On one hand, there's "corruption". On the other hand, there's its ugly step-sister, "bad ethics".
Nothing wastes company time more in this country (or anywhere, perhaps), than bad ethics. "Corruption" is finite, after all. It's clear to most people what is corrupt behaviour. Ethical lapses, however, seem to be entirely subjective.
I've been thinking a lot about this recently and it's been a recurring topic of discussion in our offices too. It seems to be stemming from the number of ethically questionable people we've had the displeasure of working with over the course of Oceanic's existence. As a growing service provider, we have very little choice but to work with these people. Or do we?
One stinging situation we've been going through lately deals with a client who we built a web strategy for some time ago. The first phase of the project was some pretty straight forward web development and the project went fine, with no real problems or issues. The client was happy. The second phase of development focused on a few specific customer support applications. Our initial proposal provided an outline of these applications, how we would build and implement them into their existing website and at what cost. Again, everyone seemed happy with the strategic approach we suggested.
Some time has gone by since this proposal was put forth but it has recently come up again and the client appears ready to move ahead. Unfortunately, we're being told that they must tender for this service because it's their policy to get three quotes. My argument, not surprisingly to me, is based on the fact that their very tender is built upon a strategic approach and implementation plan WE HAVE GIVEN THEM. Why should any other company get the opportunity to bid for work on a strategy we've proposed? At least, that's my view.
The client stands firm. "It's our policy."
So we now have to waste time following some outdated tender process where we'll most certainly not be the lowest tenderer (since we rarely are). Is this a corrupt practice on the side of the client? No, of course not since they're just following "their policy". Is it ethical? Well...this is the grey area.