Fraud, Corruption and Bribery - 17-01

At the same time tony is concerned about falling

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recent webcast to employees around the globe. At the same time Tony is concerned about falling revenues. James is a sales director in Multinat and for the moment he also is concerned about falling revenues. In recent months he has been under a lot of pressure from top management, including Tony, to branch out into new territories and markets. At last James has an opportunity to enter into a new contract with a new customer that promises long term and stable revenues - if it is secured. During the initial negotiations, however, it becomes clear that the opportunity is the result of an introduction by a consultant. The consultant says he will ensure that James and others in Multinat are given the right levels of access to the client, which will offer the greatest chance of success. The consultant’s terms are a retainer of UK£1800 per month and a success fee of 3% of the net value of the contract should Multinat be successful. The consultant tells James that there is no need for concern as he is honest and ethical, having willingly signed up to Multinat’s Code of Conduct. Dialogue between consultant, customer and James occurs without any involvement of the top management in Multinat. James hopes that winning the contract will take some of the pressure off him and put a smile back on Tony’s face. Ideally, he would like to know more about some of the consultant’s methods but the signature on the code of ethics gives him comfort, as do the regular invoices he submits on headed paper of a legally registered company. James feels he could not do more under the circumstances. In the above story, the sales director, James, could easily be party to corruption and bribery if he pays the consultant to help him secure the contract for Multinat. However to what extent, if this is true, could he be held morally responsible? British philosopher Peter Strawson, in his work on “freedom and resentment”, related moral responsibility to our reactions and attitudes towards other people and their conduct, reactions like gratitude, forgiveness, resentment, and hurt feelings. A person perceived to have done something morally right or wrong often meets with these reactions. Their conduct is seen as an expression of goodwill, contempt or some other moral attitude and this makes a difference to our moral judgment: “If someone treads on my hand accidentally, while trying to help me, the pain may be no less acute than if he treads on it in contemptuous disregard of my existence or with a malevolent wish to injure me. But I shall generally feel in the second case a kind and degree of resentment that I shall not feel in the first.” (Strawson, 1974) People who deny moral responsibility for corruption will try to claim they had no other choice, whether due to an unhappy set of circumstances or forces beyond their control; they identify with the person who accidentally steps on Strawson’s hand while trying to help him, and reject any suggestion that they could be a reasonable target for moral resentment or criticism.
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  • Spring '12
  • Ahmed
  • Ethics , moral dissonance

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