Table of Contents

Situations Related to Ethical Principles

1. Fulfilling the letter or the spirit of the law?

2. Ensuring diverse points of view

3. Putting a square peg in a round hole

4. Protecting an individual's right to privacy

5. Ethical decisions in instructional media selection

6. Computers: Issues of health and safety

7. Adopting and promoting new ideas

8. A clash of cultures

9. Harassment, bias, and discrimination

10. Whose views? Yours or your institutions?

11. All the facts, please

12. Competing with your employer

13. Handling gifts, gratuitites, and favors

14. Engaging in fair and equitable practices with vendors

15. Greasing the squeaky wheel

16. Influencing your colleagues

17. Exploiting professional affiliations

18. Helping one another

19. Is honesty the best answer?

20. An ethical approach to doing business

21. Fair assignment of responsibility

22. Facing new copyright challenges

23. When a colleague is wrong

An Ethical Approach to Doing Business

The Situation
Harry Archer and Paul Makosky had grown up together in the small, closely knit community of Donnerville. As teenagers, they were practically inseparable. After high school, Harry went off to college to become a teacher while Paul stayed in Donnerville with the intention of, someday, owning his own 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.


Discussion

The AECT Code of Ethics—Section 3, Principle 6
In fulfilling obligations to the profession, the member shall conduct professional business through proper channels.

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
Professor Emeritus of Education
Pennsylvania State University


Updated January 21, 2008
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