Example of Ethics Assignment – Case: “Family Business”
Instructions: Use the following ethical framework to analyze the case that you choose. Please select a case from
the list of cases at http://ba.tepper.cmu.edu/ethics/AA/mgtmini.htm
THE SIX STEP METHOD FOR ANALYZING AN ETHICAL DILEMMA
1). First, describe the factual situation.
2). Identify the possible alternative courses of action (at least 2).
3). What are the ethical impacts of each alternative at different levels of analysis (i.e. Macro level, Firm or
Company level, and the Individual level – not all levels will always be involved). Be sure to include the
key stakeholders who will be affected by the alternatives. (Note: you will need to analyze each of your
alternatives at the macro level, firm level and individual level.)
Ethical issues can be examined on three different levels; some will be more important than others
depending on the situation:
A). The Macro Level (The national economic system itself)
Questions to answer: What if all companies did this; what would be the impact on our society,
on our national economy? Would this practice result in a “better” or “worse” society?
B). The Firm or Company Level
Questions to answer: How will the decision generated by the firm affect its competitors? The
firm’s customers, suppliers or foreign partners? The firm’s labor force or community? The
industry in which the firm operates. What will be the impact of the decision on the corporate
“ethical culture” of the firm – will it help it or hurt it (will the company be viewed as more or
C). The Individual Level
Questions to answer: Whom will the decision benefit and who will it harm? Is the decision fair
to the stakeholders involved?
4). Indicate which alternative course of action (identified in #2 above) that each of the following 4 approaches
to ethical behavior would favor. Explain.
- The Utilitarian Approach
Goal: to produce the greatest good for the greatest number of people – a quantitative concept.
Summary of Utilitarian approach: An action is morally correct if it maximizes net benefits
and minimizes overall harms for all stakeholders.
(e.g., would alternative 1 or alternative 2 produce the greatest good for the greatest number
- The Justice Approach
This approach is based on the belief that people should be treated fairly and equitably,
according to the legal rules and standards.
- The Human-Rights Approach (Moral-Rights Approach)
There are individual and societal fundamental rights or values which deserve to be protected
regardless of cost or economic efficiency, such as freedom of conscience, free speech, the
right of consent to actions that affect the individual, and rights of due process.
Summary: a moral action should minimize the harm to the fundamental rights of the
stakeholders affected by it.
- The Individualism Approach
This approach is based on the belief that one’s primary commitment is long-term
advancement of self-interests.
5). Are there any practical constraints that limit our choice of alternatives? (i.e. it costs too much – the firm
would go out of business; the government would not permit it.)
6). In light of the preceding analysis, what is the best alternative?
The following rubric will be used to grade your assignment: Ethics Rubric
|Identifies Dilemma||Describes the dilemma in detail having gathered pertinent facts. Ascertains exactly what must be decided.||Describes the dilemma in detail having gathered most pertinent facts. Ascertains what must be decided.||Identifies the dilemma including pertinent facts, and ascertains what must be decided||Identifies the dilemma, but is uncertain what must be decided||Has a vague idea of what the dilemma is and is uncertain what must be decided|
|Consider Stakeholders||Determines who should be involved in the decision making process and thoroughly reflects on the viewpoint of all stakeholders||Determines who should be involved in the decision making process and thoroughly reflects on the viewpoint of most stakeholders||Determines who should be involved in the decision making process and accurately identifies all the stakeholders.||Includes one or more persons who should not be involved in the decision making process||Is unsure as to who should be involved in the decision making process|
|Analyzes Alternatives and Consequences||Clarifies a number of alternatives and evaluates each on the basis of whether there is interest and concern over the welfare of all stakeholders||Clarifies two alternatives and evaluates each on the basis of whether there is interest and concern over the welfare of most stakeholders||Clarifies at one alternatives and predicts its associated consequences in detail||Begins to appraise the relevant facts and assumptions and identifies some alternatives||Begins to appraise the relevant facts and assumptions and identifies one alternative|
|Chooses an Action||Formulates an implementation plan that delineates the execution of the decision and that evidences a thoughtful reflection on the benefits and risks of action||Formulates an implementation plan that delineates the execution of the decision and that evidences a thoughtful reflection on the benefits||Formulates an implementation plan that delineates the execution of the decision||Has difficulty identifying an ethical course of action from the alternatives||Does not identify an ethical course of action|