is it ethical 1

Based on your reading for this week- see attachment, and the required multi-media, analyze and discuss all three Topics ethical scenarios PLUS one issue from your own experience. In your analysis, rather than simply stating how you feel about the situations, apply the principles and theories in the readings to create a reasonable and informed position.This week we will learn how to apply a framework to make a decision about an ethical dilemma. I’m sure you will find Professor Badaracco’s lecture enlightening, particularly if you think that ethical decisions are easy or clear cut. The point of having an ethical framework is to give you a step by step process to evaluate ethical decisions. The process of applying the framework requires us to reflect on our choices and see them from different perspectives, rather than reacting in a purely emotional or intuitive way. Intuition is a tool that we can use to make ethical decisions, but it’s not the only tool. Critical thinking is also a very important factor in making ethical decisions. As Badaracco points out, our ethical decisions don’t have to be “heroic” or dramatic, the every-day workplace issues involving co-workers and more routine situations are the ones that most of us are faced with. We probably think of them as so routine that we might not even recognize that they are ethical issues. I think all of the hypothetical decisions you are presented with this week involve very real kinds of problems that managers in organizations face.

Another approach to an ethical decision model is that of Professor Josephson in Chapter Two of the book listed at the top of your required readings (The Legal Environment and Business Law). On pages 63 and 64 of that book the author lists six core values that most people can agree on. The ethical decision model has you consider how each of these core values relate to the question at issue and the impact on stakeholders and others. .

When you are asked to respond to the question, “Is it ethical?” it is not sufficient to say, “It is unethical” or “This would not be ethical, because it is wrong.” An educated response to this question requires consideration of the following: What makes it unethical? What makes it wrong? What standards are you applying? Ethical analysis involves the application of principles, theories, and values to particular situations. The readings will help you to see this. Must use references.


Badaracco, J.L., Jr. (2002). Defining moments: A framework for moral decisions. Faculty Seminar Series. Harvard Business School. (B) PURL:


Chapter 2

Corporate Social Responsibility and Business Ethics in The Legal Environment and Business Law (v. 1.0)

Badaracco, J.L., Jr. (2002). Defining moments: A framework for moral decisions. Faculty Seminar Series. Harvard Business School. (B) PURL:… (Scan to video number 36)

Bagley, C. (2008, April). Winning legally: The value of legal astuteness. Academy of Management Review, 33(2), 378-390.(B). PURL:

*Hunt, S.D. & Hansen, J.M. (2007). Understanding ethical diversity in organizations. Organizational Dynamics, 36(2), 202-216. (Science Direct) PURL:

*Christensen, D. S. (2010). Four questions for analyzing the right-versus-right dilemmas of managers. Journal of Business Case Studies, 6(3), 53-57. Retrieved from


*Martynov, A. (2009). Agents or stewards? Linking managerial behavior and moral development. Journal of Business Ethics, 90, 239-249. (B) PURL:

Our cases this week are a mix, some are hypothetical based on fact, some are all too real. Don’t hesitate to bring your own experience to bear when you analyze the cases. You will be asked to contribute examples of your own on topic #3.

Topic #1

The Puffed Up Resume

©2009 by Professor Rosemary Hartigan, University of Maryland University College

Betty Bass was a highly respected Senior Vice President at Colossal Technology Enterprises and well known for her community service work. Betty had been at Colossal for over ten years and had risen from the ranks, starting out as an assistant project specialist and steadily progressing to a senior management position. Betty’s performance evaluations during her time at Colossal ranged from Very Good to Outstanding performance. Betty’s leadership on many Colossal projects resulted in increased revenue for the company. She was generally well respected in the company, but, as is often the case with office politics, there were some people who had competed with her for positions in the past and were envious of her success.

Shortly after Betty’s most recent promotion to Senior Vice President, Joe Johnson, who was also a candidate for the position, attended a conference. Joe was very disappointed about not getting the promotion, and, after a few too many drinks at a social gathering, he shared his disappointment with a couple he had just met that night. He was comparing his qualifications with Betty’s and he mentioned Betty’s name. As it turned out, the man he was talking with had known Betty at a previous job, and he mentioned to Joe that he was interested to hear that Betty had completed her MBA at UMUC because when he knew her, she had dropped out.

When Joe returned to work, he went to Human Resources and told Harriet Ryder, an HR representative that he had heard from a reliable source that Betty had not completed her MBA and he thought that HR should check on this.

Current Human Resources policies at Colossal require potential employees to submit transcripts from the degree-granting institutions for all degrees on their resumes, but this requirement was not in place ten years ago when Betty first began working for Colossal. After discussing this issue with her manager, Harriet contacted Betty and told her that HR needed to update her records. Harriet asked Betty to contact the educational institutions where she received her degrees to request official transcripts to be sent directly to Human Resources at Colossal.

This request made Betty’s heart sink, because, in fact, she had never received her MBA. She was 18 credits from completion when she had to drop out because of family obligations. She really needed a job at that time and had put the MBA degree on her resume to enhance her chances of getting hired. An MBA was not a requirement for the assistant project specialist job that she was hired into ten years ago, but it is a requirement for the Senior Vice President position she currently holds. However, some of the current Senior VPs, who assumed the position prior to the MBA requirement, do not have MBAs.

Be sure to apply either the Ethical Leader’s Decision Tree ( or Professor Badaracco’s method to analyze the issues before stating your recommendations.

1. What should Betty do?

2. How should Human Resources handle this situation?

Topic #2




Rosemary Hartigan and Paula O’Callaghan*

Just four years out of college, Alex Sharkey was a fast rising junior account executive at JPW, a full service advertising and public relations agency, working in the firm’s main office on Madison Avenue in New York.

Through family connections Sharkey obtained a position with JPW and went to work following graduation. As a graduation gift from Dad Sharkey received a copy of Never Eat Alone, the popular relationship building self-help book by Keith Ferazzi (2005). Sharkey deeply absorbed and applied the advice in this bestseller and over four years took the time to get to know everyone in the office, every competitor and every media contact . That investment of time seemed to pay off. Alex’s boss, Sam Cypher, the Vice President of the PR division gave Sharkey especially positive feedback on people skills on each performance review.

Over time Sharkey found that information gleaned from socializing with one person could be useful. So, Alex shared. It was easy; people would offer things – and Alex would pass along that information to those who could gain the most benefit from it. Alex experienced new-found popularity in the office as someone who was always “in the know.” Sharkey began to take a more active approach, taking the initiative to ask questions, encouraging lunch mates to share ever more specific details about the accounts they were working on, or intimate details about people with whom they worked.

One Monday, during lunch with an associate from a competitor firm, Sharkey learned that a female account executive at JPW, junior to Alex in tenure, was about to be promoted to senior account executive in the PR area. Sharkey was shocked and finished lunch with temper barely under control. Alex remarked to a companion, “I can’t understand why all his networking hasn’t paid off? I didn’t even know we had a senior exec position open. Why Sheila Sharpe, and not me?” The lunch mate told Alex to “Get over it” adding, “she’s probably sleeping with Cypher; isn’t that how these things usually happen?”

Sharkey was deeply distressed about being “passed over” for the promotion and couldn’t let it go. Sharkey began to analyze — why would Sheila Sharpe be worthy of promotion? She’d been with the firm only one year and Sharkey considered her to have inferior client development skills. Over time the informant’s remark took root. Was it possible that Sharpe could be sleeping with Cypher? The more Alex thought about it, it seemed the only logical explanation for Sharpe’s sudden rise.

The following weekend JPW held an off-site company retreat for the entire staff. Sharkey had the perfect opportunity to test the theory while alone at the breakfast buffet with Cypher’s secretary. Alex casually asked if the boss’s marital troubles had worked themselves out yet. Without missing a beat the secretary said, “Sadly, no, Sam’s still living at the Residence Inn. It’s his kids I worry about – did you know he has twins in the first grade? What must they think about him running around with that young woman?” Caught a bit off guard, Sharkey quickly recovered and replied casually, “I guess you mean Sheila Sharpe?” “Well, you didn’t hear it from me,” was the terse reply, made with a wink and a smile.

Later that day Alex tried out the theory on two peers during happy hour at the off-site. Of course, Alex had to reveal Sharpe’s impending promotion to gain their interest. One of the companions raised her eyebrows and said, “Why, yes, I have seen Cypher and Sharpe together in the office after hours. I thought they were working on the Westheimer account, but now that you mention it, Sheila wasn’t even on that team at the time.” It wasn’t quite the positive confirmation Alex was seeking, but that statement did seem to add some credibility to the theory. Sharkey sent off a quick email to the competitor who had originally revealed Sharpe’s promotion. Alex repeated the theory about Sharpe and Cypher and asked if the competitor had heard anything about such a relationship. The competitor replied, allowing that indeed he might have heard something about that; he would ask around his firm and see if he could learn anything more.

The Monday following the off-site weekend, a memo was circulated from Sam Cypher, announcing that Sheila Sharpe had been promoted from junior account executive to senior account executive in the PR division.

Bitter and displeased, Sharkey went to lunch that day with two peers from the PR department. It happened that they were the same two co-workers in whom Sharkey had confided at the off-site. Sharkey repeated the conversation with Cypher’s secretary. All three agreed that the promotion seemed suspicious and an improper relationship seemed likely. They agreed to ask around and see if anyone in the office knew more.

Be sure to apply either the Ethical Leader’s Decision Tree ( or Badaracco’s method to analyze the situation fully before you respond to the questions.

1. Is Sharkey’s behavior ethical? Does it make a difference if the allegation of the affair between his boss and Sheila Sharpe is true or false?

2. Sam Cypher finds out that Sharkey has been gossiping about him and Sheila Sharpe. Assume the gossip about Sam and Sheila is not true, and Sam wants to fire Sharkey. Should the Human Resources Office support his decision?

* Hartigan, Professor and Director; O’Callaghan, Assistant Professor, Graduate School of Management and Technology, University of Maryland University College. Copyright © 2009 by Rosemary Hartigan and Paula O’Callaghan.

Topic #3

Ethical issues arise in the workplace all the time. Describe a situation that you have encountered in the workplace that you believe raises some ethical issues. Then apply one of the assigned ethical frameworks to analyze the situation.


I was interviewed for an article in the Wall Street Journal ( regarding building relationships at work in traditional workplaces via socializing opportunities. What do you think of my real world advice? Is it ethical? Is it manipulative? Why or why not?

The article states, in part, “So you’ve been invited to after-work drinks. Should you go?

If hanging back to do other things seems like a better option, watch out. Avoiding happy hour can have a negative impact on your career, say workplace experts.

“[Even] if you’re shy or if you don’t like the people, put on a happy face, show up and don’t just stand in the back,” says workplace relationship expert Courtney Anderson.

According to Anderson, going to post-work drinks can give you more information about your coworkers, plus it enhances the emotional, social and psychological investments you make in each other.

And drinks can help you achieve career goals—like a promotion or contributing to a specific project—by giving you a strategic business advantage. People will know you better so they are more likely to pick you for collaborative work.

A lot of our choices and opportunities in life are based on who likes us, says Alexandra Levit, author of Blind Spots: The 10 Business Myths You Can’t Afford to Believe. “Developing a personal social relationship with colleagues will make them much more likely to collaborate with you.”

“Your social capital can be spun and used, you want people to remember you,” adds Anderson.”


Title: Ask At Work: Should You Say Yes to Happy Hour?

Authors: Stevenson, Chelsea

Source: The Wall Street Journal, August 3, 2012

All “bare minimum” requirements are met and in addition, work far exceeds established criteria (highest level logical analysis, critical thinking, research, posting early in the week, posting on multiple days, etc.) may earn A grade.


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