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January 27, 2015

A Case Study in Business Ethics

Read the below case study of a CEO of a small IT start up and consider the questions below. Share your ideas or thoughts in the comments section below.  

Walter Crump is a CEO of an IT startup with 100 employees. He is preparing to work with his offshore sales team to coach them on securing clients.  

Before starting this entrepreneurial venture Walter worked for a major IT consultancy in the US. While he worked there, he amassed much information about their business practices. In that experience, he learned a lot of best practices, some of which he wants continue in his own start up and other practices he thinks he can do better in his start up. Much of the “other practices” includes confidential and sensitive information about his previous company's business practices, protocols and client interactions. Interestingly, his start up will be trying to work with similar clients as those who worked with his previous company. In preparing his strategy to convince major players to work with his company, he wants to pick out some major issues had by his previous company and convince prospective clients that his start up will not pose the same problems (managerial, financial and project management) for them. 

Whether Walter mentions the previous company name or not is inconsequential as that company is well known as one of the top players in that niche market. 


  1. Do you think it’s ethical for him to use the previous company information to convince prospective clients to work with his start up? 
  2. What makes it ethical or unethical? 
  3. How would you handle such a situation if you had information you could leverage in your start up that could be considered confidential or damaging information, but it could help you to convince someone else to work with you?  
For more insight on the topic of business ethics, read this post on basing ethical decisions.

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