MIS303: Professional Ethics – Assessment Task 2 Case Study/Scenario 1: Shawn
KSoft, a software solution provider, wishes to expand its business and open new offices in another country. The organisation anticipates the expansion strategy to be profitable. To work on the new strategy, the organisation hires Shawn, who is very familiar with the culture of the country in which the new offices are to be opened. Given his expertise, Shawn is tasked to work with the local government authorities (in the country where new offices are to be opened). A major part of his job is to get the approval required to rent and open offices. Shawn’s manager, Ian, wants Shawn to get the location of the new office approved as soon as possible so that the company can begin its operations in the new destination.
As soon as Shawn kickstarts his work, he comes across major hurdles. Due to unforeseen circumstances, Shawn is unable to obtain permissions from the local government authorities within the deadline mutually agreed on between Shawn and Ian. Shawn explains to Ian that the permit approval process would take longer than anticipated because of the local government’s policies for overseas companies. Ian is not pleased with the delay and stresses upon Shawn to do whatever it takes to accelerate the process because the management in the headquarters is not very happy with the slow progress of the expansion project.
Shawn calls Peter, his main government contact who works on approving overseas organisation’s permits and explains to him his situation. Peter asks Shawn to meet him personally so they can sit together and discuss this situation in detail. In their meeting, after listening to Shawn’s predicament, Peter tells Shawn that he can speed up the permit approval process if he is paid a fee.
Shawn is not comfortable with the idea of giving money to Peter. He calls Ian and explains the situation to him, telling him that paying the money to Peter is the only way to accelerate the permit approval process. Ian ponders over the idea for a while, then permits Shawn to pay Peter the amount he demands, because ‘it isn’t much money’. Ian further explains to Shawn that it is the company’s policy to respect the culture in which they work. Shawn, backed by Ian’s response, agrees and pays Peter the money. The permits get approved by the local authorities and the first office opens quickly in the new destination. KSoft’s business flourishes in this new location and this impels the company to expand and acquire more locations to open their offices in the region. Shawn continues to pay the local authorities to get permissions approved.
One day, Shawn gets a frantic phone call from Ian. He informs Shawn that someone found out about the payments made to Peter and an investigation is being launched. He also tells Ian that even though the amount paid was small, any type of bribery is a crime under the country’s
Bribery Act. Ian instructs Shawn to find any documentation that might be incriminating for the company and destroy it, and to deny making any payments in case he is asked as part of the inquiry.
Shawn hangs up the phone. He knows that if anyone finds out about the payments, the company can face massive fines. He and Ian could also get into serious trouble. However, he also knows covering up the bribery would make it worse for everyone if discovered. On the other hand, Shawn thinks there is a good chance that the payments would not be noticed. He knows that almost all companies have to make these payments to get work done in different countries and many have not been caught.
|ASSESSMENT 2 BRIEF|
|Subject Code and Title||MIS303 Professional Ethics|
|Assessment||Case Study Report|
|Length||1200 words (+/- 10%)|
|Learning Outcomes||The Subject Learning Outcomes demonstrated by successful completion of the task below include:|
Understand and analyse the effect of ethical and unethical practices and the legal frameworks applicable to the information systems industry. To learn this, read the case study and write a 1200- word report.
Please refer to the Task Instructions for details on how to complete this task.
In Modules 2 and 3, you learnt about the various ethical and unethical practices in the information systems (IS) industry. You learnt how these practices affect organisations and the relationship between unethical practices and legal frameworks. You now have the opportunity to analyse an ethical situation in the IS industry and its impacts. Your learning facilitator will provide you with a case study to analyse.
MIS303 PROFESSIONAL ETHICS
ASSESSMENT 2: CASE STUDY REPORT
Professional ethics relate to the relevant principles for an individual and guide his behaviour at his work. With so many advancements in our lives and the challenges, we need to follow certain norms that keep us grounded and govern our actions. People often get misled due to external factors and make mistakes that potentially impact professional and personal life. For this assessment, we have a case study to be reviewed based on understanding the learning we got from this course. The case study has three people; Shawn, Ian and Peter. A company hires Shawn to facilitate opening its branches in other countries. Ian is Shawn's manager guiding his actions, while Peter is known to help Shawn facilitate getting approvals from the Government authorities.
As per the case study, KSoft is looking to expand its business overseas and has adopted the expansionist strategy to be profitable. It is all right for a company to adopt such an attitude and is well within the ethical principles, as long as the company's actions or steps do not violate the laws and are unethical. The company hired Shawn with the idea that he would be able to manage the situation in the targeted country, having ample knowledge of the cultural scenarios. However, when Peter asks Shawn to pay him fees for getting the work done, the government authorities took a long time to approve; he was influenced by Ian, his manager, to agree to Peter's condition. Shawn did feel adamant at first. However, he agreed after Ian convinces him about the cultural conditions in the targeted company. Here, it must be realised that Ian considers 'taking money for getting things done' as a culture in the country, which is wrong to project. Giving or taking a bribe is an illegal act, enough for an ordinary person to understand.
Moreover, if the authorities take a longer time to perform work, that does not depict a culture but laxity in the workplace. These cannot be justified as a cultural norm by Ian. When we talk about Shawn, as already discussed above, he was adamant about acknowledging Peter's demand for fees; however, when Ian assures that it is customary to give a bribe, Shawn did not question him showed resistance but went ahead to follow Ian's command. Here, Shawn could have stood up against Ian's orders, followed what he felt right, and discussed the company's issues, if needed. He showed a lack of courage to acknowledge the wrongdoing. Talking about Peter, who right from the beginning has a wrong intention, lacks ethical norms and has violated the law, even when serving to the country as an official. He is not just indulging in the illegal act but also ruining the country's name. It is clear that all three people, Ian, Shawn and Peter, lack ethical behaviour, but at the same time, they are intentionally violating the law of the land; by indulging in the act of bribery. When talking about the pressures that caused such issues, it can be said that some level of pressure would have been on Ian and thus Shawn to ensure speedy approval. However, that does not mean they could get the work done by illegal means. It is expected that no reputed multi-national company would influence its employees to indulge in such acts, knowing that it can severely affect its market value and goodwill. Nevertheless, there has been some pressure on Ian and Shawn to get the work done, which shows that the department dealing with expansion policy ignores the basic principles of work ethics. If we talk about the company, there lacks synergy and a far-sighted vision; it should have considered the consequences of not having proper policies in place.
While the company hired Shawn to open up offices in a targeted company, there should have been guidelines that could have guided him to take forward the work in a systematic order. The guidelines should have included the non-permissible actions that would have no relation with the company's orders and policies if Shawn committed. It could have prevented Ian from ordering Shawn to acknowledge Peter's demand. Even if Ian had ordered Shawn to acknowledge Peter's demand, he would have declined it, knowing that he would land in danger. There is an explicit lacking in the processions of the company concerning severe such matter. The company can face serious legal charges that can spoil its goodwill earned in years or decades. As mentioned in the case study, Shawn gets aware of the investigation to be done against the acts committed by him, and they might be booked under the Bribery Act of the country. When he informs Ian about all this, Ian asks him to destroy the documents that could be potential pieces of evidence. In this way, Ian again asked Shawn to act in an illegal and unethical manner. Even Shawn is convinced it could help prevent serious repercussion on the company, him and Ian. It is quite understandable that if the authorities find out bribery, there will be legal cases enacted against the company, him and Ian. Thus, the fear experienced by Shawn is justified.
It is critical to understand that businesses must be very cautious about indulging in unfair practices. The business must follow a code of ethics and have specific guidelines that are mandatory to follow, or else, it might be counted as a violation of the law. Role of leadership plays a critical role here. As we saw, the leadership of Ian led to such serious issues. If the leader himself is not serious about its loss, it is less likely that his subordinates would care either.
If I had been in such a situation, I would have been wise enough not to get trapped in any act that could land me in big trouble later. I would have been immature to believe that taking bribe is a cultural norm, thus sticking strictly to the procedure. If I had faced any pressure from the company, I would have made them aware of the situation at hand. If they had forced me to get indulged in the act of bribery, I would have denied it straight, even if it would have had a cost on my job. It is only wiser not to end up being illegal and unethical. Even if we keep ethical values on the side for some time, the acts committed by both Ian and Shawn are illegal. However, they wanted to hide their deeds by destroying the documents and denying if asked about payment, showing the unethical behaviour that guided Ian and Shawn.
To summarize, it can be said being illegal and unethical is not a choice that we can make. It should not even be regarded as considerable, both in professional and personal lives. When it comes to businesses, they must be guided by some principles surrounding ethics. It is critical that the top leadership and managers are core believers of the policies and codes, so that they can influence the subordinates and ensure that no act of violation to policies and code takes place.