Jorge Nunez and Jaqueline Kerry are members of a young account sales team for AgroLaunch Enterprises, Inc. (ALE), a new firm of high tech agro-farmers. The business provides beverage manufacturers with plant products designed with unique specifications (e.g., herbs, spices, corn, wheat, yeast, etc.). Using high tech processes, ALE can produce the plant products without the use of traditional farmland to provide the client their own cheap ingredient source. Nunez and Kerry, who are in their late twenties, are both trained in the sciences. They are very well versed in their chosen field. They are salaried employees of ALE who each receive a 1% bonus of the total value on every contract for every client account they bring to the company worth over $500,000. ALE holds their talent in great esteem.
Wanting the star team to field a big client, ALE recently sent Nunez and Kerry on a trip from Boston to Manila to meet with a new client who could potentially bring a million-dollar contract to the firm. There was a long delay at the Boston airport due to a snowstorm. Nunez and Kerry took a different flight than originally planned to avoid the risk of not leaving Boston for several days. They had to take economy seats apart from each other to get on the plane. The new flight was full and the seating uncomfortable.
Grumpy from the delay and uncomfortable seating, Nunez, still had to work with Kerry to prep for the meeting. He decided to employ the plane’s new in-flight networking technology to carry on a video chat with Kerry who was sitting towards the back of the plane. Nunez was simultaneously using the plane’s Internet connectivity to engage in over a dozen “chats” with friends, a marathon chess game, and a Tweet conversation with the Manila client on the ground – all the while sipping tequila. After 8 hours on the plane and a stop at the Azores, Kerry signed off to get some sleep. Nunez relaxed by the drink and in a “social” mood from conversations with friends, shared ALE proprietary information about growing methods with the potential Manila client via Twitter before signing off to get some sleep as well. Nunez was sure sharing information would help clinch the sale but was forgetting that the information would go to all of the contacts on his ALE Twitter account. Nunez knew disseminating proprietary information to persons not under contract or not members of the firm was against company policy.
Kerry and Joshua Hellman, the team’s boss, are both contacts in Nunez’s account. They both recognized the infraction upon receipt of the text messages.
Immediately upon landing, Kerry confronts Nunez with the problem. Nunez replied, “Well I can’t do anything now but I am sure it will seal the deal. That is why I tweeted the information. They won’t care at home if we come back with a signed contract.” Worried, but thinking about her bonus on a million dollars, Kerry says, “You’re probably right. I won’t say anything for now.” Nunez never told Kerry that Hellman probably received the texts as well.
After two days of negotiation, the team lands the contract and returns to Boston feeling great. Meanwhile, Hellman is furious and worried about Nunez’s actions and is thinking; “How can I not report Nunez and Kerry for their infractions? Does getting the contract make a difference? Leaking proprietary information to non-clients to get the sale is forbidden. It can bring the company down financially if such actions continue because eventually it is likely that the information will be utilized to our competitors. Why didn’t Kerry stop him?”