Share
Explore BrainMass

HP's Patricia Dunn- Ethics, Information Privacy, Pretexting

Former HP CEO Patricia Dunn resigned in 2006 due to her actions to secure corporate secrets for HP. She hired private investigators that posed as journalists and infiltrated the company's intranet in order to find the HP personnel responsible for the very public leaks. This sanctioned use of pretexting cost Ms. Dunn her job.

The 2,000 word, MLA style case study uses utilitarian and Deontological ethical considerations with varying levels of perspective to conclude Ms. Dunn's resignation was ethical.

References are included to expand the research on general business ethics, informational privacy rights, United Nation's Universal Declaration of Human Rights and US Bill of Rights, as well as the Hewlett-Packard Patricia Dunn example itself.

Attachments

Solution Preview

INTRODUCTION
The Hewlett-Packard Board of Directors acted ethically in its decision to force Patricia Dunn to resign as Chairman of the Board in September 2006. In a company press release, the board reasoned, "to move forward, we believe it is in the company's best interest that she now step aside given the distraction her presence on our board continues to create ." Her eventual removal closed the chapter on her participation in the pre-texting and privacy violation scandal that has blackened HP's public image.

BACKGROUND
Dunn hired private investigators in order to discover the source of media leaks regarding Board of Directors information. These investigators then engaged in "pretexting-calling up phone companies and impersonating [HP] directors seeking their own records ." Whether or not the pretexting scheme itself was ethical is not in question. Aside from the general breech of privacy, pretexting specifically is illegal. The Federal Trade Commission recognized the dangers of pretexting early on. The Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act of 1999 bans "the act of assuming a false identity in order to gain access to financial data ." We'll see that the legality of pretexting has further been restricted due, in large part, to the HP scandal.

UTILITARIAN ETHICS
Background information aside, Dunn's resignation holds a wealth of ethical considerations. Consider first the smallest perspective-that of an HP shareholder. Filtering the signal of HP's stock, from the noise of the overall market turmoil, is all but impossible over the past three years. It may never be possible to connect Dunn-scandal-cause to stock-price-effect. Generally, a high-profile resignation can have significant short-term detrimental effect on an organization, or "roil entire sectors of the economy ." What is of clear long-term utility to a HP stockholder, however, is a strong company- focused on their business model. So at the cost of short-term turmoil among the Board of Directors, the shareholder enjoys the benefit of refocused leadership.
Beyond simple utilitarian perspective, a stockholder assumes a contractual right to a profit-margin focused Board of Directors. The shareholder surrenders cash for the contractual right to future profits. This, in turn, places a corresponding duty on company leadership. Non-profit organization aside, corporate leadership must operate clearly within this duty if it is to be successful. Ms. Dunn acknowledged the gravity of the distraction in her parting statement as HP Chairman of the Board. She states, "I continue to have the best interests of HP at heart and thus I have accepted the board's request to resign. I look forward to appearing before Congress next week to answer their questions and ...

Solution Summary

Former HP CEO Patricia Dunn resigned in 2006 due to her actions to secure corporate secrets for HP. She hired private investigators that posed as journalists and infiltrated the company's intranet in order to find the HP personnel responsible for the very public leaks. This sanctioned use of pretexting cost Ms. Dunn her job.

The 2,000 word, MLA style case study uses utilitarian and Deontological ethical considerations with varying levels of perspective to conclude Ms. Dunn's resignation was ethical.

$2.19