Cost Information and Ethical Behavior, Service Organization Jean Erickson, manager and owner of an advertising company in Charlotte, North Carolina, arranged a meeting with Leroy Gee, the chief accountant of a large, local competitor. The two are lifelong friends. They grew up together in a small town and attended the same university. Leroy is a competent, successful accountant but is having some personal financial difficulties after some of his investments turned sour, leaving him with a $15,000 personal loan to pay off—just when his oldest son is starting college. Jean, on the other hand, is struggling to establish a successful advertising business. She had recently acquired the rights to open a branch office of a large regional advertising firm headquartered in Atlanta, Georgia. During her first two years, she was able to build a small, profitable practice. However, the chance to gain a significant foothold in Charlotte hinged on the success of winning a bid to represent the state of North Carolina in a major campaign to attract new industry and tourism. The meeting she had scheduled with Leroy concerned the bid she planned to submit. Jean: Leroy, I’m at a critical point in my business venture. If I can win the bid for the state’s advertising dollars, I’ll be set. Winning the bid will bring $600,000 to $700,000 of revenues into the firm. On top of that, I estimate that the publicity will bring another $200,000 to $300,000 of new business. Leroy: I understand. My boss is anxious to win that business as well. It would mean a huge increase in profits for my firm. It’s a competitive business, though. As new as you are, I doubt that you’ll have much chance of winning. Jean: You’re forgetting two very important considerations. First, I have the backing of all the resources and talent of a regional firm. Second, I have some political connections. Last year, I was hired to run the publicity side of the governor’s campaign. He was impressed with my work and would like me to have this business. I am confident that the proposals I submit will be very competitive. My only concern is to submit a bid that beats your firm. If I come in with a lower bid and good proposals, the governor can see to it that I get the work. Leroy: Sounds promising. If you do win, however, there will be a lot of upset people. After all, they are going to claim that the business should have been given to local advertisers, not to some out-of-state firm. Given the size of your office, you’ll have to get support from Atlanta. You could take a lot of heat. Jean: True. But I am the owner of the branch office. That fact alone should blunt most of the criticism. Who can argue that I’m not a local? Listen, with your help, I think I can win this bid. Furthermore, if I do win it, you can reap some direct benefits. With that kind of business, I can afford to hire an accountant, and I’ll make it worthwhile for you to transfer jobs. I can offer you an up-front bonus of $15,000. On top of that, I’ll increase your annual salary by 20 percent. That should solve most of your financial difficulties. After all, we have been friends since day one—and what are friends for? Leroy: Jean, my wife would be ecstatic if I were able to improve our financial position as quickly as this opportunity affords. I certainly hope that you win the bid. What kind of help can I provide? Jean: Simple. To win, all I have to do is beat the bid of your firm. Before I submit my bid, I would like you to review it. With the financial skills you have, it should be easy for you to spot any excessive costs that I may have included. Or perhaps I included the wrong kind of costs. By cutting excessive costs and eliminating costs that may not be directly related to the project, my bid should be competitive enough to meet or beat your firm’s bid. Required:
1. What would you do if you were Leroy? Fully explain the reasons for your choice. What do you suppose the code of conduct for Leroy’s company would say about this situation?
2. What is the likely outcome if Leroy agrees to review the bid? Is there much risk to him personally if he reviews the bid? Should the degree of risk have any bearing on his decision?
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