Imagine that you are part of a bargaining team that has been engaged in negotiations for 6 long months. One night, as you are getting ready to leave and are gathering your things, you notice a piece of green paper on the ground near where Devin, a member of the opposite negotiation team, was sitting just a few minutes earlier. When you pick it up, you realize that it is a list of the ideal outcome for the other team.
At first you are ecstatic—this is the information you need to end these negotiations! Then you begin to recall your organizational behavior course and all those ethical dilemmas that seemed so easy back then. What should you do? Should you use the information for your team? I mean, why not, they were careless enough to leave it behind? On the other hand, would that be ethical?
Thinking back to that OB course, you recall some key questions you should ask yourself during negotiations:
• Would this be honest?
• Would this involve keeping my promises?
• Would I be following the Platinum Rule and be “treating people the way they want to be treated?”
As you are pondering these questions, you also realize that this is a key decision. There are some additional questions you should ask yourself around making ethical decisions if you plan on using this information to help your team:
• Is this decision fair?
• Will I feel better or worse about myself after I make this decision?
• Does this decision break any organizational rules?
• Does this decision break any laws?
• How would I feel if this decision were broadcast on the news?
Just as you think you’ve made your decision, Devin from the opposing team walks back in and asks you if you’ve seen a green piece of paper.
• What would you do?
• What are the ethical dilemmas involved?
• How would you justify your choice?
• What would be the consequences of your choice?