An Ethical Approach to Doing Business
After 16 years of teaching in another part of the state and completing a master's degree in educational technology Harry accepted the position of Technology Coordinator for the Donnerville School District. He was delighted to have the opportunity to return home and renew old friendships. He was particularly pleased to become reacquainted with his old friend, Paul, who, true to his youthful ambition, was now one of the community's leading citizens and owner of a successful electronics retail and wholesale business. It was not long before the friendship between Harry and Paul was rekindled and their families became very close.
One Wednesday morning, as was their weekly custom, Paul and Harry met at a local diner for breakfast. Harry looked tired. He soon revealed that he had been up half the night preparing orders for new video and computer equipment to be purchased by the school district. His budget was limited so he wanted to be sure that he did everything possible to enable the children in the district to have access to the maximum amount of equipment that the school district's resources would allow.
Paul listened carefully as Harry poured forth his dilemma. There was a long pause before he responded. "Harry," Paul ventured. "I might be able to help you. You probably have a pretty good idea from talking to different vendors as to what prices they are likely to bid on this type of equipment. If we could get together and go over the list of things that you want to order and the prices that you expect to pay, I could probably submit a bid to get everything through my company at a lower price. I might even lose money on the deal but, what the heck, the kids would be getting what they need. It's the least that I can do to help this community that has been so good to me. What do you think? It looks to me like a win-win situation"
At first, Harry was excited. The ones who would profit from such an arrangement would be the kids. Indeed, Paul appeared to be willing to even lose money in order to benefit the schools. However, gradually, as he thought more about Paul's suggestion, doubts began to enter his mind.
The AECT Code of Ethics—Section 3, Principle 6
Harry soon realized that Paul meant well but his offer could not be accepted. After all, the school district had well-defined rules for how the bidding process is to be carried out. If Paul wanted to respond independently to the request for bids and submit prices that might even lose money, he was free to do so. However, for him to collaborate with Paul in establishing these prices would be violating established channels and procedures.
As they discussed the matter, Paul realized that he had spoken out of turn. "Bad idea!" he exclaimed. He then added with a smile and a wink to his old friend across the table, "But just you wait! When the bids are opened, you guys are in for one heck of a good deal!"
Paul W. Welliver