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Written Analysis of the Case: The Dilemma of AutoCorps Manager

By: Adjarani, Andalahao, Chua and Dasmarias


Case background: The manager of AutoCorps marketing intelligence and product
development department knows that her decisions can either resolve or worsen the
existing lapses of the company in terms of market performance. In one of her
flights, she accidentally came across a document that outlined confidential
information about a competitors new product. The document also provided answers
to the questions she forwarded to an external research firm that was hired by her
for this very purpose. However, based on AutoCorps new Business Conduct
Guidelines, failure to return the document would mean dismissal.
Problem: AutoCorp is in need of new and effective strategies to improve its market
positioning and innovate its product offerings. This is deemed to be best achieved
through business research and competitor analysis.
Objectives: To recommend an effective and timely course of action for the
manager that would serve the best interests of AutoCorp and in line with ethical
business conduct. The recommendation should be for the ultimate purpose of:
a. Gathering information that would answer the research questions of the
Manager, and
b. Formulation of a strategy from the gathered information that will address the
problems of AutoCorp as mentioned in the case (i.e. market shrinkage and
delayed product announcements)
Alternative courses of action:
1. Keep the confidential report and withdraw the outsourced research
proposal.
Pros: As stated in the case, most, if not all, of the research questions she
outsourced will be answered by the document. Using it and retaining it will be
beneficial for their department and will give them the competitive advantage
since the competitor is unaware of the leak of information, which by itself is a
product of the competitors negligence. This may also save their department
from the cost of hiring an external research firm since the proposal may be
withdrawn, as stated in the case.
Cons: This act is a violation of the Business Conduct Guidelines of the
managers company and may lead to her dismissal if discovered.
2. Pattern solutions to research problems from the confidential report
yet return the report to the competitor as indicated in the Business
Conduct Guidelines. Also, withdraw the outsourced research
proposal.
Pros: With the assumption that she already read the report (whether
intentionally or unintentionally), patterning the solutions in accordance with
the information contained in it but returning the same will indirectly answer
her research needs without directly violating the Business Conduct Guidelines

of the company. This will also safeguard her from possible dismissal and save
their department from research costs.
Cons: Once returned, the competitor might modify its strategy of introducing
its new product or modify the product itself, considering the contents of the
confidential document was already exposed. There is also a possibility that
legal action may be done by the competitor against AutoCorp since it is likely
that the former will see it as an intentional breach of company information
even if such is not the case.
3. Return the confidential report to the competitor without patterning
the solutions to her research problems. Continue on with the
research proposal.
Pros: There is no assurance that the competitor will employ the plan
contained in the report considering that it is still a draft. There is also the
possibility that the document was intentionally left by its holder for some
reason or the document is not legitimate. It is safer to proceed with the
research and formulate resolutions that are not influenced by the confidential
document since it is based on the parameters initially set by the Company.
Cons: The information contained in the report may be ultimately useful to
gain competitive advantage.
4. Create an outline of the key information contained in the report and
use it as a starting point for the research proposal. Leave the report
where it was discovered.
Pros: From the very start, it is due to the negligence of the competitor that
the confidential report was discovered. The ethical concern is not relevant in
this case. Assuming the report was already examined by the Manager, it is
already inevitable for her to not be influenced by the information, so there is
no need to retain it. Using the information as the starting point of the
research would not only give more direction to the research process, it will
also lessen costs since first-hand information is already available. The focus
of the research will be for verification of the information in the report and
exploring complementary strategies, instead of answering the original
research questions. Decisions may be patterned based on the information in
the document or not, depending on the outcome of the research.
Cons: Research costs is not avoided. There is also the possibility that the
competitor will have knowledge that the document was used by AutoCorp.

Recommendation:
Retain the report and use the information contained in it as a starting
point for the research proposal.