Group Discussion: Ethical Dilemma Narratives & Rational Decision Making
Almost every day in our life, we encounter ethical dilemmas. You may have seen a friend cheating on an exam, a woman groped by a stranger on the way to work, or been tempted to plagiarize school essays. As working either part-time or full time, you must have experienced or observed more complicated ethical dilemmas such as bribery, thefts, lies, and bullying. Recalling your own experience or your coworkers’ experience, write ethical dilemma that challenged your understanding of business ethics. There is no limit on the length of a narrative but try to make it concise.
Three ways that might help you arrive at an issue are:
1. Describe an incident at work that challenged your conscience.
2. Describe an incident at work that challenged the company’s code of ethics.
3. Describe an incident that seemed disrespectful toward owners, customers, managers, employees, suppliers, community or the natural environment.
In order to preserve anonymity,
change references to specific people and places
1. Begin the first sentence with: “You are the (state the job title of the key person facing the ethical dilemma, i.e. accounting manager)”.
1. Describe the dilemma (context, concerns, conflict) and clarify both sides of the issue (we need to understand why the unethical option was a reasonable thing for the decision-maker to pursue).
1. Reach the key decision point, and then ask “What would you do?”
You must bring your narrative to group discussion (11/30
. Students in a group will discuss narratives in turn. For each narrative, group members discuss possible options and assess their weaknesses and strengths applying each of the seven ethical questions. After reviewing both weaknesses and strengths, choose the best option for the case through group discussion. All members should reach unanimity. If you had disagreement, write which option was the next alternative. You are responsible for writing the result of group discussion for your own case and submitting it to the professor (
Due by 12/2
After discussion, please choose one case that group members find most controversial. A student whose case is chosen will give a presentation on 12/2. For presentation format, you can be creative but 2-3 PPT slides will be helpful. Just like I used ethical dilemma cases in class, introduce your case first, ask class what kind of options are possible, and choose the best option by a show of hands. Become a facilitator! After class discussion, present what options your group members suggested and how you reached a consensus, and compare results. Presenters will earn extra credit.
You supervise ten employees. Kim, the best performer, called in sick today. You learn from a very trustworthy subordinate whom Kim is meeting for lunch that Kim is not actually sick. Instead, Kim is taking a “mental health” day and just wanted some unscheduled time off from work. The company’s sick leave policy does not allow for mental health days. You suspect that Kim might do this once or twice a year, within the allowable sick day allocation. Allowing Kim to take a “mental health” day off when not sick can damage employee morale by creating a double-standard, one for Kim and one for everyone else.
What would you do?
1. Possible Options (There is NO limit on the number of options):
1. Who are all the people affected by the action?
1. What option benefits me the most?
1. What option does my social group (NOT your group members! A social group in the case) support?
1. What option is legal?
1. What option is the greatest good for the greatest number of people affected?
1. What option is based on truthfulness and respect/integrity toward each stakeholder?
1. What option would a virtuous person do?
3. Strengths and Weaknesses:
4. Option Choice and Reason (Try to choose the option all students agree with):
You work as a server at a restaurant. In a shift, there is one host and 2 bussers. The host’s main job is to seat and welcome customers, take orders, refill water glasses, hand out bills, set up tables and help bussers when the work is not busy. The busser’s main job is to bring out food, clear plates, and segregate them in the kitchen to make it easier for the dishwasher person, clean tables and help the hostess whenever necessary. On some days, you are a busser and on some days you are a host. And so, you understand the need for good teamwork and coordination. In general, you and your coworkers work well together, even doing each other’s jobs with no problem. However, you notice that Sarah, who has been in the restaurant longer than most of you and your coworkers, avoids the “dirty work.” You notice that as host, she takes too much time seating customers and taking orders to avoid cleaning tables and doing the rest of her job. Even if she brings in plates, she leaves it on the table for you to segregate, when it is her responsibility. So you end up doing mostly everything. Coworkers also similarly complain. A bigger problem is that when the manager is around, she works really well and beyond her duties. What would you do?
You are an assistant manager at a retail watch store. A customer has just decided to purchase a watch from Jim, one of your salesmen. This watch is the only one of this particular model currently in stock. Before Jim rings up the customer, he needs to get a box from the stockroom. On his way back Dwight, another salesman, asks Jim if he can look at the watch. Jim tells Dwight that he has already sold the watch to the customer but says he can look at it while he gets the box. When Jim returns, he finds Dwight says his customer wants to buy it. Jim tells him that it was already sold, takes the watch and rings up his customer. This angers Dwight’s customers and they demand to see a manager. You come out to find Dwight’s very angry customers who say that they want the contact information for Corporate so that Jim will be punished. What would you do?
You are a pizza delivery driver for a local pizza place. You only work the evening shift and due to high volumes of business the manager almost always denies you your 1 ten minute break. You understand the reason behind the denial, but at the same time in all the chaos of the night you could really use a 10 minute break to help make sure you perform to best of your ability and to make sure mentally you are in the right place to drive safely. Being that you are a driver you leave the pizza to deliver the pizzas with no supervision and it would be very easy to just pull over somewhere on the side of the road and take a 10 min break without telling anyone. So you do so a couple of times but feel bad and are also worried that one of the other drivers could see or somehow you could be caught. You don’t want to lose your job but really enjoy have that 10 minutes of rest in the middle of your shift. What would you do?