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George is a recent MBA who just joined a manufacturing firm'

I have read about critcal thinking and ethics and I need help with understanding a solution to this problem.

George is a recent MBA who just joined a manufacturing firm's Cedar Valley plant as its only cost accountant. Cedar Valley is a town of 20,000 people, and the plant is one of several owned by the firm. George's boss, Arthur, tells him that management wants to automate this particular plant with robots as a pilot project, to help judge whether the other plants should be automated. Arthur admits that the community will be in an uproar due to the loss of jobs. However, the firm can save some of the jobs through retraining. Once George releases accounting information showing that the upgrade is necessary, the community will be less likely to resist.

George points out that the report he sent to headquarters last year found that automation would not benefit the plant. But Arthur responds that the report was based on cost assumptions and that these can be adjusted as necessary to make the bottom line come out differently. After all, market prices fluctuate, and there is no solid proof that one cost estimate is better than another.

How would you deal with this situation?
What factors would you consider?
Is any of our reading helpful in analyzing the issues?
How, if at all, do virtue ethics bear on this case?
Are there other ethical approaches that might be helpful?

Solution Preview

You could take any one of several ethical approaches to solve this problem. The utilitarian view would say that the correct solution is the one that produces the greatest good for the greatest number of people, which in this case would be to keep the people on staff, so that they do not lose their jobs. Our consequentialism view also agrees with this, because it supports the best possible consequences in which happiness is maximized. A deontologist would say that the solution must be based on a sound moral principal, and that in ethical decision-making, one should adhere to their personal morals and values. Now let's look at what is going on here.

Arthur responds that the report George is referring to is based on cost assumptions that can be adjusted as necessary to make the bottom line come out differently. The strongest argument here is this - in business, when a ...

Solution Summary

George is a recent MBA who just joined a manufacturing firm's Cedar Valley plant as its only cost accountant. Cedar Valley is a town of 20,000 people, and the plant is one of several owned by the firm. George's boss, Arthur, tells him that management wants to automate this particular plant with robots as a pilot project, to help judge whether the other plants should be automated. Arthur admits that the community will be in an uproar due to the loss of jobs. However, the firm can save some of the jobs through retraining. Once George releases accounting information showing that the upgrade is necessary, the community will be less likely to resist.

George points out that the report he sent to headquarters last year found that automation would not benefit the plant. But Arthur responds that the report was based on cost assumptions and that these can be adjusted as necessary to make the bottom line come out differently. After all, market prices fluctuate, and there is no solid proof that one cost estimate is better than another.

How would you deal with this situation?
What factors would you consider?
Is any of our reading helpful in analyzing the issues?
How, if at all, do virtue ethics bear on this case?
Are there other ethical approaches that might be helpful?

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