Wednesday, 19 November 2008

Homework not done

A short time ago a few students were taken to LSE for a lecture.

On the way back arrangements were made so that homework was emailed to them.

They had seven days to do it.

Sadly NOT ONE of the students did the homework.

NOT ONE.

It was homework especially chosen to make them T-H-I-N-K.

What a let-down!

Repercussions will follow........

Ethics in Business

What will it look like or what will it do?

Topic: Environmental Protection

Characters: Bethany, Manager in new product development with a large chemical company

Boris Stone, Plant Supervisor and Bethany's superior

A large chemical company to oversee the construction of production facilities to produce a new product recently hired Bethany. Lubchem developed a new industrial lubricant which it felt it could produce at a price close to those of its competitors. The plant to manufacture the lubricant was built on land adjacent to the River Don. Lubchem had already applied for and received the necessary permit to dump waste materials from the process in the river. Several other chemical plants in the near vicinity are also releasing waste materials into the river.

Bethany is concerned because the government agency which oversees the permit process has granted Lubchem a permit to release more waste in the river than previously anticipated. An additional stage in the production process which would have reduced the waste and recycled some materials became unnecessary due to the regulatory agencies decision. Because the additional process would have added capital and production costs, it was not built as part of the existing plant. Yet, Lubchem has always stated publicly that it would do all that it could to protect the environment from harmful materials.

The company has had mediocre performance for several quarters partly as a result of the anticipated recession, and everyone is anxious to see the new product do well. Tests have shown it to be a top-quality industrial lubricant that can now be produced at a cost significantly below those of their competitors. Orders have been flowing in, and the plant is selling everything it can produce. Morale in the company has increased significantly because of the success of the new product in the context of general economic turbulence and gloom. Due to the success of the new product, all employees are looking forward to sizeable bonuses from the company's profit sharing plan.

Bethany is upset that the company failed to build the additional stage of the plant and fears that the excess waste released today will cause problems for the company tomorrow. Bethany approaches Boris Stone, the Plant Supervisor, with her concerns. Boris replies, “It's up to the government agency to protect the river from excess waste, and the company only had to meet the agency's standards. The amount of waste being released poses no threat to the environment, according to the agency. The engineers and chemists who originally designed the production process must have been too conservative in their estimates. Even if the agency made a mistake, the additional recycling and waste reduction process can be added later when it becomes necessary. At this point, building the additional process would require costly interruptions in the production process and might cause customers to switch to our competitors at a time of heightened competition. The environmental groups might become suspicious if production was stopped to add the additional process‑they might see it as an admission of wrongdoing.

No one in the company wants to attract any unwarranted attention from the environmental groups. They give us enough trouble as it is. The best thing we can do is make money while the company can and deal with issues as they come up. Don't go trying to cause trouble without any proof. The company doesn't like troublemakers, so watch your step. You're new here, and you wouldn't want to have to find a new job.” Bethany perceives his advice as paternal but resents what she regards as the hidden message that she is working in a male dominated world on sufferance. If she makes waves she will put her job at risk.

Bethany is frustrated and upset. She can see all the benefits of the new product, but inside she is sure the company is making a short-sighted decision, which will hurt them in the long run. The Director of Operations will tour the plant next week, and Bethany is considering approaching him with her concerns. It is also possible to contact the government agency and request that the permit be reviewed. Bethany is unsure what to do, but she feels she should do something.

Task

Assess Bethany’s situation from a reasoned ethical perspective clearly stating her options, using three systems of ethical reasoning to evaluate her possible choices and advise her about the choice you think she should make taking into account the practical constraints.

(80 Marks)






1 comment:

Approach to teaching

Methods there are many, principles but few, methods often change, principles never do