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John Snow is the senior accountant of a local manufacturing business, Venus Ltd. This is John’s first job and he is coming to the end of his probationary year, upon the completion of which John will have greater job security at Venus.
Venus manufactures chocolate bars and other confectionery products. There is strong demand for Venus’s products and they are now negotiating a loan with the bank in order to overhaul its factory equipment. Overhauling the factory equipment is an expensive process and management want to minimise the impact on operations.
John and a team of engineers are responsible for recommending one of three potential contractors to conduct the overhaul. Factors taken into consideration include the impact on the short term production and the cost and quality of the overhaul. John’s team produce costings of the three alternatives and ultimately decide to recommend a company called Thermatic to perform the overhaul.
When the Managing Director of Venus, Sophie, is informed of their choice, she is surprised as she believed that the process was a forgone conclusion and that another company, Zirconium, would win the contract. Zirconium is a business with which Sophie has a material interest through her family business, NTSC.
Sophie questions a number of assumptions in the costings and recommends several amounts be changed. John agrees that some of the assumptions are open to interpretation, but also suggests to Sophie that her judgement is clouded due to her conflict of interest. Sophie responds by telling John that that there is no conflict as she has more shares in Venus than she has in Zirconium, and that her interest is for Venus to get the loan, conduct the overhaul and expand the output of its factory. She then tells John that if he wants to secure his future with Venus, he should change the costings and recommendation to Zirconium.
a) Which ethical theory do you think leads to the most appropriate course of action for John ? Justify your position
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