Dilemma of Kelly Meyers

1. “What are the ethical issues involved in this situation?”

  1. In this scenario, the ethical issues include a breach of confidentiality as Janet Williams disclosed the bids of other parties to Kelly, who is also a contender in the contract. Biddings by various contenders should be treated as confidential information and only disclosed during bid opening day.
  2. Besides, both Kelly and Janet demonstrated some levels of untrustworthiness. Janet erroneously disclosed her company’s confidential data to Kelly; hence, she may not be trusted, even though she tried to withhold the information at the beginning of the conversation.
  3.  On the one hand, Kelly demonstrated mistrust through deceptive practices and fraud for personal gain. She tried to push Janet into revealing the company’s confidential information, which is unethical.
  4. Kelly engaged in what is called in the business world “clever” practices destined to take unjustified advantage of a system or others.
  5. There is a conflict of interest in the case as Janet seemed to have an intention to favor her friend Kelly over other bidders.
  6. Janet’s action seemed to favor one bidder over the others, which is unethical. As a purchasing officer, Janet acts as a watchdog for all the items purchased and should do everything possible to make sure that every coin used adds value to the organization.
  7. Allowing Kelly to see the bid competition could compromise the quality of the goods purchased. Why? After seeing the least bidder, Kelly will quote a considerably lower price, $500 lower than other bidders, but compromise quality to cater to huge deviation.

2. “If you were Kelly Myers, do you think Janet Williams intended for you to see the competition bids? What would you have done, given this situation? Why?”

If I were Kelly Myers, I would not think that Janet intended for me to see the competition bid, as it is a breach of confidentiality on her side. I would perceive it as a human error to let me see the bid. It may also imply that she was trying to test my level of honesty and integrity to see whether I can be trusted with the business deals in the future, that is if supposed she was not pulled out of the room by her manager, and therefore went ahead to show me the list. However, the bottom line is that Janet was unexpectedly pulled out of the room by her manager, and she was in a hurry to take the bid folder back to the drawer. I think that Janet later realized that Kelly saw the bidders’ lists and even decided to provide her with the expected bid, maybe as a friend or for being honest.


Given a similar situation as depicted in the case, I would have been straight and honest with Jane, suggesting that I have seen the summary of the bid she left on the table, though it was not intentional. After that, I will ask Janet for a clue on the bidders, and the average quotation or whatever information she feels can help my company win the bid. Failure to be honest in this situation may create an impression that Kelly is doing things behind Janet’s back, which may ruin the entire relationship as no one feels happy being played.

3. “If you were Kelly Myers, what would/could you have done in this situation? Why? Be specific.”

Faced with the same scenario as Kelly, I would have done the same thing to make sure that my company won the bid. Practically it is unethical for Kelly to ask for such a company’s sensitive and confidential information as a bid competition list. Likewise, it is not ethical for Janet, in her position as a purchasing officer, to favor one bidder over the other, which constitutes an unfair practice that can harm the organization’s businesses in the future if the favored bidder fails to deliver the expected quality.

However, as a marketer, Kelly is right to seek any information and opportunity available for her company to win the contract. One last opportunity that presented itself, in this case, is the long-standing relationship between Kelly and Janet, who is also the purchasing officer in the company where Kelly has an interest. Kelly has met with Janet on several occasions, and apparently, they have developed a good relationship. In this case, Kelly is right to ask for information such as the bidder with the least amount quoted, as this information is crucial in the pre-qualification of tenders.

The bidder with the lowest but reasonable bid amount has higher chances of getting the contracts in most purchasing environments (Alkhateeb, Hyari & Hiyassat, 2020); hence exploiting Kelly’s relationship with purchasing officer is essential to get such information. However, Kelly should maintain the relationship after winning the bid dishonestly or unfairly by delivering quality products than expected not to disappoint Janet. After all, delivering quality is the core of any purchasing function. It is better to make less profit in the first business but build her company name for future dealings.


Alkhateeb, A. M., Hyari, K. H., & Hiyassat, M. A. (2020). Analyzing bidding competitiveness and success rate of contractors competing for public construction projects. Construction Innovation.