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Ethical dilemmas: Silently watching

In this series we confront readers with ethical dilemmas and ask: what would you have done?

We introduced the series with The Case of the Foreign Dictator in which a management consultant, Antonia, was asked to develop a programme for management change in a large, international company. (If you missed it, you can read Case 1 here https://www.cmce.org.uk/knowledge-bank/ethical-dilemmas-case-foreign-dictator.)

In Case 2, our versatile consultant Antonia is an expert in computer applications software.  She has been trying to persuade a client with a nationwide business that she has the experience and skill to guide the company in its choice of new hardware and software. With its specialised tooling, customers flock to the door and the company has grown swiftly but has now outgrown its present computer systems. The board has approved a budget to upgrade the systems and bring them into line with current and planned management needs.

Find out what ethical dilemma she faces this time and let us know what you think she should do.

Background

Our versatile consultant Antonia is an expert in computer applications software.

She has been trying to persuade a client with a nationwide business that she has the experience and skill to guide the company in its choice of new hardware and software. With its specialised tooling, customers flock to the door and the company has grown swiftly but has now outgrown its present computer systems. The board has approved a budget to upgrade the systems and bring them into line with current and planned management needs.

Antonia is in contact with the IT manager, Kenny, and has visited him from time to time. During these visits, she has impressed Kenny with her understanding of the challenges he and his company face.

Kenny has now phoned to ask her to an urgent meeting with his managing director. She is please that the development time devoted to Kenny’s company is going to pay off at last with the prospect of winning work with a new client.

Proposed Assistance

When she arrives she is greeted warmly by Kenny who introduces her to Mike, the managing director. Mike is a direct person, who soon establishes how capable Antonia is. He goes on to outline his company’s need to define clearly what systems are needed to support the business’s growth. Antonia is happy with the way the discussion is going, until Mike discloses that he has already engaged a large accountancy-based consultancy to do the work.

“I want you to advise me, in detail, on how well the consultancy practice is doing the work,” Mike states, “and I don’t want them to know about what I have asked you to do!”, he adds.

Dilemma

Antonia thinks about this proposition for a moment. On one hand she has made the breakthrough and would be working for a prestigious client. On the other hand, it doesn’t seem right to be secretly critiquing another consultancy’s work.

What should she do?

Date
Wednesday 20th May 2020
The Thinker statue