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Leadership, ethics and bribery in Multinational Co.

Managerial decision making case: leadership, ethics and bribery

A large multinational company is launching a new product line in several countries. Your department, corporate marketing, has set up a series of training sessions for the company's sales teams in several major cities around the world and has shipped in advance, training materials to those locations. On the day before the training was scheduled to begin, the in-country manager at one of the largest locations called to inform you the training materials were being held up by Customs at the local airport pending an investigation of their intended use. She tells you the delay could possibly take several days unless a "permit fee" (or gratuity) is paid to the Customs officials to expedite the release of the materials. The in-country manager is recommending the company pay the fee or risk not having the materials in time for the training class. An unconfirmed rumor has surfaced that the in-country manager is related to one of the Customs officials.

As the newly promoted director of corporate marketing, you are eager to make a good impression, since the person you replaced was promoted to vice president of international operations. While the company has a policy forbidding the payment of bribes to foreign officials, it is also counting on the sales team, with the assistance of the marketing organization, to meet some very ambitious objectives for the new international product line. Meeting these objectives is critical if the company is going to achieve its annual revenue goals.

Please respond to the following questions.
1. What are the managerial and ethical issues presented in this scenario?
2. What options are available to you as the director of corporate marketing? State the pros and cons of each option you identify.
3. Based upon the options you identified above, describe, fully and succinctly, your course of action.
4. Also address what action(s) you would take so that all in-country managers would know how to respond should they encounter a similar situation at their location.
5. Identify the leadership style you would utilize to bring about a professional resolution to this situation.
6. With the understanding that leadership involves influencing others, give your personal definition of Leadership, and share some personal perspectives that have shaped your leadership style.
7. How can you use your prior leadership experience(s) to make a meaningful contribution to the MSOL program and to enhance the learning of others?


Solution Preview

1. What are the managerial and ethical issues presented in this scenario?

Managerially, this is an issue that tests the structure of the business. Should the director of corporate marketing choose to pay the "permit fee" the power of the department will switch from the director, to the in-country manager. Another issue that it brings up, managerially, is if the sales and marketing team will be able to meet the objectives without the training materials in hand. Certainly one of the first questions a supervisor might ask about would be the process of delivering the materials so close to actual use and need. This might look bad for the director of corporate marketing, if he/she does not have an acceptable reason. And, this issue brings up whether or not the director of corporate marketing is sufficiently able to handle crises and conflicts, as well as manage staff.

Ethically the issue is whether or not it is right for the company to pay a bribe to custom officials to release the materials. This issue must be factored by the conditions that the company has a policy forbidding bribes, yet at the same time, there are ambitious objectives that must be met by the company to achieve its annual revenue goals. Furthermore, the director must decide if it is personally ethically right to go against the company policy. In other words, does the end justify the means?

2. What options are available to you as the director of corporate marketing? State the pros and cons of each option you identify.
Here are possible options:

1. Pay the permit fee and get release of the materials

Pros: materials are released, training can proceed as planned, and director will demonstrate commitment to corporate objectives
Cons: Paying bribes is against company and federal law (Foreign Corrupt Practice Act), training will need to be delayed, adapted or changed, customs will most likely continue to demand permit fees

2. Not pay the fee, wait on customs release

Pros: Not participating in illegal activity, not bowing to pressure of subordinate
Cons: No training materials, failure to take action, will have to adapt ...

Solution Summary

This detailed solution evaluates a scenario involving a multinational company and an ethical crisis. It evaluates different options and addresses the possible recourse of the options. It explores managerial and ethical issues as well. A formatted copy of the essay is included.