CASE 23 Starnes-Brenner Machine Tool Company:
To Bribe or Not to Bribe?
The Starnes-Brenner Machine Tool Company of Iowa City, Iowa, has a small one-man sales office headed by Frank Rothe in Latino, a major Latin American country. Frank has been in Latino for about 10 years and is retiring this year; his replacement is Bill
Hunsaker, one of Starnes-Brenner’s top salespeople. Both will be in Latino for about eight months, during which time Frank will show Bill the ropes, introduce him to their principal customers, and, in general, prepare him to take over.
Frank has been very successful as a foreign representative in spite of his unique style and, at times, complete refusal to follow company policy when it doesn’t suit him. The company…show more content… Was there something out of whack when they arrived?”
“No, I couldn’t see any problem—I suspect this is the best piece of sophisticated bribe taking I’ve come across yet. Most of the time the Latinos are more ‘honest’ about their mordidas than this.”
“What’s a mordida?” Bill asks.
“You know, kumshaw, dash, bustarella, mordida; they are all the same: a little grease to expedite the action. Mordida is the local word for a slight offering or, if you prefer, bribe,” says Frank.
Bill quizzically responds, “Do we pay bribes to get sales?”
“Oh, it depends on the situation, but it’s certainly something you have to be prepared to deal with.” Boy, what a greenhorn,
Frank thinks to himself, as he continues, “Here’s the story. When the S-27s arrived last January, we began uncrating them and right away the jefe engineer (a government official)—jefe, that’s the head man in charge—began extra-careful examination and declared there was a vital defect in the machines; he claimed the machinery would be dangerous and thus unacceptable if it wasn’t corrected. I looked it over but couldn’t see anything wrong, so
I agreed to have our staff engineer check all the machines and correct any flaws that might exist. Well, the jefe said there wasn’t enough time to wait for an engineer to come from the States, that the machines could be adjusted locally, and we could pay him and he would make all the