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What is Ethical Covert Research

Ethical Covert Research

Paul Spicker
The Robert Gordon University, UK

The president of your company, a 500-employee manufacturer of specialized medical instruments, is concerned with rumors about unionization of the company's manufacturing personnel. She has heard that employees are considering cooperating with a union to conduct a drive to organize. She has called you in to talk because he wants your help to learn more.

You are currently in the middle of a four-month management training program for entry-level management employees. In this program, trainees rotate through a wide variety of positions, to learn about the company. Since you are about to spend a period on the assembly line, she wants you to observe and learn what you can about any plans to try to unionize, who is leading the effort, and why they are doing so.

Given what you have read in Spicker's "Ethical Covert Research" article, do you think this is something you would be willing to do? Why or why not?

Solution Preview

According to the article, covert reaearch is research that is not disclosed to the subject. In terms of if this is something that I would be willing to do is relative to how my non-participation in the effort would impact my continued employment with the organization. Such research is dishonest in a sense, as the purpose of the investigation is to infiltrate the inner circle of the workforce in order to identify those involved in organizing unionization efforts. If ...