A manager for a company A, a company that deals with developing software for the medical services industry has been approached by a company B to provide consultancy. Company B specializes in providing medical training services for nurses and other medical technicians operating various medical equipments. The managers' basic responsibilities in company A include managing the company's sale of software to companies located in Texas. The manager is doing well in Company A and his career position, and remuneration is satisfying. However, he has been to some extent detached with work and has been contemplating pursuing his dreams of to develop software applications for educational purposes. The manager is thrilled about the chance to take up this consulting job; however, he is hesitant. He is aware of the potential conflict of interest here.
The major issue, in this case, is a conflict of interest and competition with the employer.
Consulting job is an opportunity that employees could take up as commercial recreation even as they still stay in full-time employment. Other workers have expert skills and talents that are in demand in the market. Therefore, this gives them opportunity to offer consultation services where they can earn extra money. A thin line, however, separates the interests of the employer and those of the employee. In most cases, acting in ones self-interest will contradict the interest of the employer. In the end, employees will always have to face up to the big issue of allegiance; value majorities of employers expect their staff to uphold.
The fact that the manager is working for a company that develops software for medical service could possibly corrupt the motivation for his advice to company B to the advantage of company A. To complicate the issue further, he is also interested in developing software for educational purposes. This too could potentially corrupt his advice to company B to his own advantage. The conflict of interest here will be both professional and personal. Another issue in this case is that by taking up the consulting job, the manager will be in essence competing with his employer, company A. If the manager chooses to consult in the same business with his employer or in the business in which he has a interest in, could result from lawsuits from both the employer and the company he is contracted to as a consultant. It is a dangerous path to trend. One of the tenets of most employment contracts is not competing with the employer. Employee code of conduct in most companies is in most cases explicitly against engaging in activities that are likely to be in competition with the company or those that bring about conflicts of interests.
It is important to note that conflict of interest lawsuit can be successfully lodged even when no improper practices have happened. The manager in question aim is to find something to distract him from his apparently mundane job. He indicates that he is comfortable with how much his job pays and with his progress. Immanuel Kant (1724-1804) posited that the moral quality of an action is dependent exclusively on the principle it is based on and not upon the outcome it generates. According to Kant, ethical responsibilities are "higher truths," which we have to obey in spite of the outcome.
For cant, ethical are fixed, and there are no exceptions or mitigating conditions. Kant's posits that it does not need one to mull over or calculate cost of a particular choice. When analyzed in the light of Emanuel Kant categorical imperative, the manager should go ahead and take up the consulting opportunity. This is because, from the analysis of the facts, he is not interested in gaining advantage for his employer neither is he interested in taking advantage from the contract. However, both company A and B. could still see this action as conflict of interest and company A could claim he is competing against them. As such, several recommendations can be offered to the manager.
The first thing he should do is contact the legal or HR department of his employer and find out the legal implications. The manager should expect to answer questions on the kind of consulting they are offering, the working hours, and their client's method of corresponding to them. The second thing he should do is seek to give full disclosure of his intentions. It is important to disclose to the new company about his full time job and his employer specialty alongside his duties and responsibilities in his job. He should also disclose to his employer that he intends to do consulting with company B. Full disclosure includes his motives and that he realizes the potential problems that could arise. This will help him to maintain full credibility. Finally, of course, the manager could choose to avoid the situation all together by focusing his idea about middle-high school teaching software or do consulting in a very different expertise field.