Selling Donkeys

by Ghani Kunto

Sometimes, the issue of business ethics come up in one of my classes.  When it does, the following is my response.  It’s always interesting to note the students’ responses.  I’d love to get your response on it too.

Bob’s buying a donkey from Jack.  Bob was willing to pay full price after the donkey, after delivery.  At the delivery date, Bob gets a call from Jack.

“I’m sorry, but the donkey’s dead.” Jack said.

There was a pause, then Bob answered, “Nevermind.  Just bring it here.”

While perplexed, Jack delivered the dead donkey nonetheless.

“What are you going to do with it?” asked Jack.

“I’m going to sell it.”

“What? Who’s going to buy a dead donkey?”

Bob didn’t bother answering him.  He instead said, “It being dead and everything, give me half price for it, and give me a day to pay for it.”

Jack accepted the deal.

The next day, Bob came to Jack bringing the payment.

“Here’s your share.”

“You actually sold a dead donkey?  How did you do that?

“I held a raffle and made a healthy profit too,” Bob answered.

“A raffle? Wouldn’t people complain about getting a dead donkey?

“The winner did.  I gave him his money back, and everybody’s happy.


Now, the question is, did Bob do something that is considered wrong?  Why?  Can you think of the other side of the argument?

How about Jack?  Did he do anything morally wrong?

What if you were in Bob’s shoes? What if you were in Jack’s shoes?  What if you were the winner of the raffle?  What if you bought a raffle ticket and didn’t win?

Is right/wrong really dependent on who’s looking?  Is nothing absolute?