FEATURED CASE: SHIELD FINANCIAL: OVERHEARD TRADE SECRETS
Ken Rowland, a salesperson for Shield Financial in Des Moines, was leaning comfortably back in his airplane seat. He was returning from an industry conference. His head was full of new sales strategies, so instead of napping, he pulled out his laptop and started jotting notes to himself. A short while later there was a break from the hum of the airplane. I think its time for a price cut, the man in front of him said to his seatmate. Rowland paused; he listened for what would come next.
As it turns out, the two men seated in front of Rowland were the vice president of sales and the president of Shields largest competitor, AllSafe. They were flying from the conference to a customer meeting in Rowlands territory. They spent an hour discussing an upcoming pricing strategy, with Rowland feverishly taking notes the entire time. Rowland couldnt believe his luck. Not only did he make a significant number of contacts at the show, he now had at his fingertips the competitions entire pricing strategy for the second quarter of the year. This is too good to be true, he thought.
The next morning in his Des Moines office, Rowland wrote a memo outlining all of the key points of the competitions pricing strategy. He sent the memo via e-mail to all of Shields sales managers and regional managers, the vice president of sales, and the company president. Bloom, Rowlands manager, was dumb-struck when he read the e-mail. He was shocked that Rowland would send the e-mail without first consulting him on the appropriate action. Rowlands decision to e-mail sensitive information without checking with him first could have any number of repercussions.
What are the ethical issues involved in this case?
What are the possible actions Bloom could take?
What are the possible reactions from the field (i.e., customers) to Rowlands information?
What is an ideal course of action given all of the issues involved?
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