Do you have a contract with them that expressly states 1) who the ideas belong to, 2) establish the timeline or expectations of the project, 3) when the working relationship is concluded?
It is not unethical to work with one firm to produce one part of a project, and another to implement or take action on the plan.
It *is* unethical to go behind the back of the first firm if the intention or contract states that you will continue working with them.
Consider their position. If you were them, how would you interpret the actions you're proposing?
Happy to help more if I know more details.
It all depends on the scope of service that both parties agreed to.
For example, when we are hired to produce an IT evaluation or process improvement, etc... we will get the report done in an unbiased way.
At the end of the engagement, if there is a second phase or implementation, we will automatically produce a proposal. The assumption is the client will likely ask for other proposals and we can be in the mix.
So depending on the scope of the work, I would assume that the contracted firm expects they would need to earn future work.
But you want to be open and fair with them. If they have not done it, you may want to suggest they provide a proposal as well.
Well, it may not be the nicest thing but I believe it's far from unethical. I own an application development agency, Launchpeer.com, and I understand it's the nature of the business. If we one day decided we didn't want to do 'free' work anymore we could charge for the type of service. In short, we agree to do free work so we as the agency have to understand this could happen.
All depends on the understanding with which they provided their proposal and what level of 'work' they delivered to you.
If the work is just what they would consider to be part of their sales process then you should be okay but if they went above and beyond with the expectation of winning the final project then there are ethical questions for you to consider.
Having said that, this is how many larger firms operate. They send out RFIs and then based on the information they get back they refine and re-issue a more detailed specification in their RFP.
If you know what you're doing and are clear at the start then there shouldn't be a problem