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Approaches to understanding possible ethical delimmas

Marcia Sanchez is a cost accountant for Bearings Inc. Ted Crowe, vice-president of marketing, has asked Marcia to meet with representatives of Bearings' major competitor to discuss product cost data. Crowe indicates that the sharing of these data will enable Bearings to determine a fair and equitable price for its products. Would it be ethical for Sanchez to attend the meeting and share the relevant cost data?

Solution Preview

In this problem, it appears there could be two issues: business ethical behavior and possible anti-trust issues. First, some ideas about ethics: The subject is not 'cut and dried' by any stretch, but trying to dissect the concepts might help.

In one view, ethical questions could be resolved by considering one of four approaches:

1. The utilitarian approach considers an action that will result in the greatest good for the greatest number of people.
2. The moral rights approach concerns itself with what is right and what is wrong, regardless of consequences.
3. The Universalist approach mirrors the Golden Rule. Will it work as well for you as for them?
4. The cost-benefit approach suggests weighing the good and the bad of a decision. The cost or benefit could be non-monetary.

Now to the problem: if I understand the situation correctly, the sales manager has asked Marcia to reveal cost data from her company to a competitor in order to learn and understand more about setting selling prices for her company. Why would Bearings do ...

Solution Summary

The 720 word, cited solution discusses how ethical questions could be resolved by considering one of four approaches. The four are explained with simple examples. The solution then questions the motives of the sales manager but provides several courses of action for Sanchez. A side note raises the question of possible anti-trust violations.