Case Study: Alexander Gavin’s Dilemma “Cultural Relativism and Business As Usual”


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This case is from stnoer's 'Management' 6th edition Book.

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Case Study: Alexander Gavin’s Dilemma “Cultural Relativism and Business As Usual”

  1. 1. Case Study: Alexander Gavin’s Dilemma “Cultural Relativismand Business As Usual”Synopsis of this caseThis case presented by a letter form, where Alexander Gavin wrote to a Professor called Hennesseyabout an ethical dilemma he faced in his work. Alexander Gavin is a Senior Project Manager for theEL Sahd Construction Company in Kuwait. The company is rich, renowned, well-organized and costeffective. Two month back the company bid a $30 million on a project in Iran to be the principlesubcontractor. They had built a huge profit in it and they also expected to bargain with Ajax Ltd, theBritish based company asking for the bid. However when Alexander Gavin met up with the managerof Ajax, the manager told him they were get the job if they make the bid $33 million; giving thereason that $1 million would go straight to the pocket of Ajax Ltd’s Managing Director in Londonand another $1 million in to his and rest of $1 million to Alexander’s account. The reason forAlexander Gavin receiving a share; he doesn’t talk about this transaction with nobody else. If he doso; he will get physically punish. However this share of money didn’t make him happy; inconsequence this went against his ethics.Identification of the problemFrom this case study it is cleared that Alexander Gavin faced an ethical problem. He is put in to asituation where his ethics is on the line. This project is very profitable and company wouldn’t lose thisopportunity. On the other hand he was heard of cases like this in which if a bidder fails to cooperatethen he might face some threats of physical harm. Alexander Gavin is very well aware of this typebribe existing in the Middle East. For this reason this situation has left him mixed with the commonmorality and he doesn’t know what to do.SolutionFrom my point of view, there were four possible solutions in this case; 1. He can stick with his ethics and reject the proposal and wait for its consequences. 2. He can talk to his superiors about the case and take the decision. 3. He can try to contact with other manager or executive from the Ajax Ltd to make them aware of the corruption existing in their company and take legal action against the manager. 4. He can sacrifice his ethics and accept the offer given by the manager of Ajax Ltd.
  2. 2. EvaluationI think the best solution would be the number four for the Alexander Gavin. I highly recommend thisoption because it creates a win-win situation for both Alexander and the manager. I think this extra $3million will not affect company’s huge profit margin that they expected. On the other hand EI SahdCompany will make an intimate relation with Ajax Ltd as also Alexander save himself from physicalharm.If Alexander refuses this offer then he might keep his ethical beliefs and gain some mentalsatisfaction. He would have deprived his company from a deal worth $3 million. Incidentally here hemight face other ethical dilemmas, if he reject the deal, he could have been spoiled a source of incomefor the employees of the EL Sahd Construction Company. Only for his selfish ethical reason he hasno right to deprive the overall interest of the whole employees.On the other hand if he rejects the deal some other construction company might make the deal and dothe task and El Sahd Construction Company unreasonably lose their opportunity.DecisionFrom this case study we can come to the decision that Cultural relativism tells us to understand themoral codes and customs of a given society and not to judge the morality of a particular culture. Ifcultural relativists are right, the search for common morality is over. So Alexander has to maintainedallegiances to a different nations, culture, codes and laws. As the problem refers to cultural relativism,Alexander should understand this carefully rather than made judgments.Since literally no harm will be done if the deal is made and since it concerns the source of income fora lot of people and finally keeping the fact of utilitarianism in mind; I come to the conclusion thataccepting the offer and going ahead with the deal will be the perfect solution to the problem. =0=