Starnes-Brenner Machine Tool Company: To Bribe or Not to Bribe?


The Starnes-Brenner Machine Tool Company is making significant progress to establish its brand in the market spec. Besides taking up local tasks, the company is expanding its work sphere to global participation. The company is changing its profile getting ready to take shape as an international player. With these changes, Frank a leading sales agent is set to retire at the end of the year. The company has identified a suitable replacement, Bill a 36-year-old American salesperson. The two will spend at least eight months for Bill to learn from Frank about the Company’s operation. The two persons are well-groomed sales agent but Frank has seen the company develop its operation for the last ten years. He has massive experience in international dealing which has seen the company’s fortune grow by 25 percent during his tenure

The growth of the company has been massively due to the ability to penetrate the Latino market. Starnes-Brenner has identified its brand with quality services at affordable rates. The company has migrated from only export to international trade. The company, however, is not comfortable with the dimension Frank adopts in his transaction. The company only puts up with him for his ability to secure big opportunities for the company. With Bill, the company will have an established salesperson and an administrator. Frank is known to be a loner and often does not abide by the company’s policy when it does not suit him. The company is keen to see him in retirement before he institutes major changes in the mode of operation.

Issue at Hand

The issue at hand is the way Frank conducts business. On his first day at work, Bill learns that Frank paid two lubrication deals for the shipment. The first payment was to the border officer to facilitate the transfer. This payment falls within the legal provisions of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Acts. The second payment was an unnecessary expense. Frank was aware of the opportunities for the shipment. However, the voyage had stalled and needed urgent fixing. Frank bypassed the procedure and put a slip for the machines for service. The services proceeded without having an engineer check it out.

Bill is critical of Frank’s approach in doing business. Frank explains to him that he tries as much as possible not to institute bribes. However, the system in play in Latino goes by slipping and lubrication. While the company is aware of Frank’s behavior, Bill maintains it is a bad trend. frank slams him and tells him to be patient with his judgement until he has covered the entire Latinos. Bill has his record as a straight-dealing person who loathes bribes. His stance is that it was a bad initiative to begin offering bribes to lubricate transactions. Frank in his defense claims that it is the norm in the business sphere in the Latinos. From his experience in the region, it is impossible to keep up with the competition if you do not lubricate some proceedings.

Frank points out that just like in the mainland America, bribes play a role in influencing business. He compares the lubrication process to the dinner appointments and hanky punky meetings between parties. The only difference in the bribe practice is just the hypocrisy among Americans. In the Latinos, bribes are open and not much to conceal the process. This argument is still not convincing to Bill who maintains that such unethical behavior will lead to the ultimate decline of the company. Frank on his defense says that adhering to the company’s policy will only see the opportunities decline. Bill is convinced that upholding ethical behavior and transparency in a transaction is crucial to company’s development.


Coming into a new industry and environment, Bill is keen to drive positive change to the company. He must institute major changes from the current system to develop company’s brand in the international space. Frank model of operation may have been his luck but is no guarantee for Bill’s success. The two sales agents have contrasting approaches to business in the region. While Bill’s perception may be an influence of Americas design, the Latinos has forced Frank to adapt to the Latinos way of life. Frank success has is due to his ability to influence deals. Frank’s approach is not the most suitable as it will create a tendency of demanding lubrication to secure deals.

Bill’s success hangs on the decision to adopt the trend to issues bribe or not. The society has approved the design of doing business not only for foreigners but also among local Latinos. For the foreign international dealer to succeed in the new environment, they must choose their pathway keenly. The appointment of Bill as Frank’s replacement is his impressive record as an administrator as a team player and his ethical behavior and approach to management and transactions.

While everyone else in the Latinos has adopted the lubrication process to facilitate quicker services, Starnes-Brenner success may be the decision to stand out in their management. Frank advice to Bill is that his desire to change the environment should not be by antagonism rather by driving change from within the community. Bill can successfully institute change within the company easily but will have to brace up for a challenging task in changing the way of doing business in the Latinos. His focus should be entirely the company’s prosperity.