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    Ethical Decision Making in Difficult Situations

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    1. On the issue of overseas bribes, Terris asks the questions, "Who was hurt by the [overseas bribes to secure sales of aircraft]? The competitors, of course, but what was unethical about beating out the competition that was playing by the same rules?" (p.59). What do you think about a situation where underhanded and back door deals are the way the game is played if everybody is on the same playing field? That is to say, if everybody is playing by the same shady rules, is it unethical to compete?

    In your reading you will note that defense contractors continued to find themselves in hot water well into the 1970s as a result of overpricing and additional charges of bribery. In the late 70s Lockheed established its first code of ethics and later the major defense contractors came to the table to level the playing field with the Defense Industry Initiative (DII), by agreeing on a set of ethical principles. This was an important turning point as was bringing Norman Augustine on board.
    2. Why was the DII so important to the eventual success of Lockheed Martin's ethics program?
    3. Why was Norman Augustine's and Dilbert's contribution in helping Lockheed Martin turn the corner with its ethics program.
    Jerry Stevens heads up an excavation crew for the municipal utilities district in a city in Nebraska. A sewer line needs to be replaced and it has been excavated with a back-hoe. The trench is 7 feet deep. The municipality's safety rules indicate that employees should not go into the trench without a trench box. This rule is to prevent employees from being buried if the trench walls collapse. People die every year from trench cave-ins.
    Scenario:
    The trench box won't arrive on site for another 6 hours and the city promised residents that the sewer would be fixed by the end of the day, which now seems impossible. The City Administrator called Jerry on his cell phone and indicated that it was imperative that the sewer be fixed as soon as conceivably possible because a City Council member is served by that sewer line and will raise a fuss if it's not fixed by the promised time.
    One of the more experienced workers states, "It's only going to take 30 minutes to dig under the pipe and loosen the fittings. We don't need the trench box. We used to do this all the time before we were required to use one of those darn things."
    Jerry knows he's right. He used to do it himself before the rule was put in place. Also, the soil is clearly a cohesive soil and it's highly unlikely that it will collapse. And although there is an organizational policy to use a trench box for trenches deeper than 5 feet, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) does not have

    Jurisdiction over municipalities in Nebraska because municipalities are political subdivisions of the State. The only entity regulating safety policies is the City's Safety Director and he took the day off.

    4. In this scenario, to what extent do you think allowing the crew into the trench without a trench box would be pushing (or exceeding) the limit?
    5. Discuss any ethical grey areas in this scenario?
    6. What in your mind is the right thing to do?
    7. What is the value of having an ethics program (and related programs like safety programs) and what are the responsibilities of front line leaders/supervisors and the workers when they face dilemmas such as the one described?

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    Solution Preview

    https://www.washingtonpost.com/archive/business/1997/04/13/when-dilbert-speaks-on-ethics-lockheed-martin-listens/e49eac5a-b5d5-46ce-9830-abe2e4fce081/

    http://training.itcilo.it/actrav_cdrom1/english/global/guide/defence.htm

    1. On the issue of overseas bribes, Terris asks the questions, "Who was hurt by the [overseas bribes to secure sales of aircraft]? The competitors, of course, but what was unethical about beating out the competition that was playing by the same rules?" (p.59). What do you think about a situation where underhanded and back door deals are the way the game is played if everybody is on the same playing field? That is to say, if everybody is playing by the same shady rules, is it unethical to compete?

    The issue of bribes overseas is a serious issue because many companies have to "pay to play" or be left behind. In regard to the underhanded backdoor deals that are the norm in many countries that are plagued by corruption and graft, companies must adhere to the global and U.S. standards of business, which means refraining from engaging in any illegal activities even if this results in loss of business. The company would be subjected to the same penalties that they are subjected to at home even if they were engaging in behavior that is accepted by corrupt governments and foreign actors.

    2. Why ...

    Solution Summary

    Ethical decision making in difficult situations are examined.

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