One of the assignments in my Management class at Hope International University is to discuss an ethical, business, or other dilemma with my classmates. This is a great, “real life”, test of sharing ideas and dealing with people’s reactions to your opinions and/or comments. Maybe even implementing concepts like Plan/Organize/Lead/Control. And true to form, the first week of these discussions has got my mind whirling. (Yes, for a large portion of my 2.78 readers, I DO have a mind!)
This week’s dilemma goes like this:
When [the previous professor] was working in Ecuador with HCJB World Radio (now known as HCJB Global) he encountered an interesting ethical situation. The mission organization had developed the capability of producing television programs. They wanted to get an on-air license and begin broadcasting Christian television shows. But they could not get a license.
They had set up a separate organization called ASOMA. This organization was run by missionaries and staffed by Ecuadorians. They tried for two years to get a license and while it always appeared that they would get the license, they were always denied. They found out that in the Ecuadorian culture the government officials in charge wanted them to pay a bribe to get the license. The missionaries felt this was unethical and refused to pay. The government, in turn, refused to grant the license. The missionaries tried every other means – they used their influential Christian Ecuadorian friends, they used other forms of relationship – to no avail.
After two years they turned the management of the organization over to the trained Ecuadorians. There was very little happening anyway. There was a change in government and after only two months amazingly ASOMA was granted a license. Everyone rejoiced. Later the missionaries found out that the new Ecuadorian management had simply paid a $25,000 bribe and they got the license.
We were asked : What are your feelings about what transpired? What would you recommend to the mission leaders regarding the actions of the Ecuadorian workers?
I thought about this carefully. Maybe it is because I’ve been fortunate enough to see other parts of the world, to understand America is unique, and that it’s not reliable to think the rest of the world should function like America…..but I basically responded like this:
Post #1: In our culture, the monies required to obtain a license would be illegal and immoral. If this business at hand were on American soil, I would suggest that those involved should adamantly refuse to partake in such activities and stick to their moral guns. However, as described in the situation, the culture in Ecuador appears to be very different than that of America. The “bribe”, as it were, appears to be an accepted and important aspect of business interactions in the country. While this concept fights against all that we Americans think of when business is done, that does not seem to be the case in Ecuador. Conversely, NOT giving the monies would be an anomaly. It does not seem appropriate for the mission leaders to take an ethnocentric view on the subject, especially when they are attempting to share Christ in a way that is accepted by the culture. Therefore, I would recommend that the mission leaders accept the actions of the Ecuadorian workers.
I was not surprised to learn that not everyone in the class held my view. One student responded to my post, indicating an unethical act is just that, no matter the cultural context in which we find ourselves.
What are your thoughts? I am curious to know. I have more to share on this topic, but I seriously don’t want to add more at this point because I’d love to hear others’ view on the subject. Maybe you will agree with me and that’s great. But maybe you don’t – help me see the error of my ways….at least try! So please, if you have time, leave a comment!
I will NOT be debating with anyone who responds. I will seriously contemplate your responses and then I will share what I posted to my class, in response to the student who disagreed with me. MAYBE I will respond to specific comments, but I will not debate them.
Hope that makes sense!