Len Quill has been a buyer for Artifacts, Ltd., an importer of ethnic art, for four years. He majored in marketing and cultural anthropology in college and is faced with an ethical decision concerning the demand for a basket made by the Puna Native American tribe. The tribe is a major source of artifacts for Len and his interest in the tribe has inspired him to learn their native language, making him the only person from Artifacts who directly works with the Puna.
Bob is an art gallery owner who is interested in placing a large order for the Puna baskets. However, he wants them within a short time frame and only if he can redesign the baskets with his customers in mind. Each basket’s shape, pattern and color represent important historical events and symbols of the tribe and are only made by the women. Len would have to market this design change to the Punas, as well as the idea of men making the baskets too, in order to meet the short deadline. The Punas will receive a good price for their baskets, which could improve their standard of living. Len’s boss, Mary, is very enthusiastic about this opportunity, for Artifacts, Ltd. will prosper from the large order.
Coming from an anthropological viewpoint, Len isn’t sure he wants to persuade the Punas to alter their artwork or encourage the men to make the baskets. He has learned that these kinds of changes have weakened other cultures and is concerned the Punas are not aware of the negative effects such changes could have on their society. Len needs an agreement from the Puna tribal council before a contract can be signed with Bob, but is conflicted over how to handle the deal.
1. What are the ethical issues Len is faced with?
2. Do you think Len has a moral duty to protect the Puna tribe? If so, why?
Author: Judy Cohen, Assistant Professor of Marketing, Rider College
posted by Wende