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Writing and Analyzing Ethics Cases in Business. William Frey ADMI 6005. The Key Points. A Case Taxonomy How to choose your case A template for writing and analyzing your case Poster Presentations: a proposal. Examples. onlineethics.org Killer Robot Case

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Writing and Analyzing Ethics Cases in Business

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the key points
The Key Points
  • A Case Taxonomy
  • How to choose your case
  • A template for writing and analyzing your case
  • Poster Presentations: a proposal
  • onlineethics.org
    • Killer Robot Case
    • APPE cases in graduate research ethics
  • computingcases.org
    • Therac-25
    • Hughes Aircraft
    • Machado
  • uprm.edu/etica
five kinds of cases
Five Kinds of Cases
  • Thick vs. Thin
    • Thin cases are useful for abstracting a single point and focusing work on that point.
    • Thick cases can give the student practice in making ethical decisions in the full context of the messy real world.
  • Historical vs. Hypothetical
    • Based in actual experience in the field.
    • These provide excitement and immediate relevance.
    • Cases that are hypothetical, fictional, or abstract remove much of the impact of the historical case, but allow freedom to structure the discussion on specific issues.
five kinds of cases1
Five Kinds of Cases
  • Good vs. Bad News cases
    • Tendency in ethics is focus on bad news
      • Questionable choices cause bad outcomes.
    • Grabs the imagination and motivates attention
      • but can give the false impression that business and research ethics is primarily about staying out of trouble.
    • Balance bad news with good news
      • Morally exemplary scientists and engineers overcome obstacles and realize moral value
five kinds of cases2
Five Kinds of Cases
  • Big vs. Small News cases
    • Disasters and corruption are in the media.
      • Like Denathor looking through the palentir controlled by Sauron
      • What he sees is true but one-sidedly bad
    • Disasters are rare
      • Focusing on avoiding disasters leaves out important issues.
    • Small news cases are more likely because they portray everyday problems confronting scientists and engineers
      • Collecting data, integrating specifications, responding to constraints, making timely decisions, etc.
    • Students gain insight and practice in managing the issues that they are most likely to encounter
five kinds of cases3
Five Kinds of Cases



Case approached from standpoint of judge

Case introduces ethical principles and concepts

Case helps to distinguish ethical principles and rules and decide which is best for which situation

  • Case approached from standpoint of participant
  • Participant integrates ethical considerations into solutions designed and implemented in real world
  • Case poses real world constraints such as uncertainty and shortage of time
example aquaculture case nsf sbr 9810253
Example: Aquaculture Case(NSF SBR-9810253)
  • Original version: A local aquaculture facility near Ponce was closed by the EPA for violating environmental standards. The EPA claimed they shot birds from endangered species (because the birds were eating the crop, e.g., lobster fingerlings) and also that they dumped untreated waste water into the local river.
  • Question: Was the EPA just or unjust in closing the facility?
the students rewrote this case
The students rewrote this case…
  • The EPA has informed an aquaculture facility that they are in violation of environmental regulations (shooting endangered birds; improper disposal of waste water).
  • This facility has two months to submit a compliance report. To write this report, they have hired a group of engineers as consultants.
  • You are one of the consultants. Describe several possible compliance responses. Compare these in terms of the ethical implications and feasibility.
what does student version add
What does student version add?
  • Case approached from perspective of participant rather than judge
  • Requires a response that integrates technical and ethical components
    • it is interdisciplinary
  • Business/ engineering skill/knowledge required to specify the ethical problem.
  • Elicits a proactive rather than a reactive, judgmental response.
what you are going to do
What you are going to do
  • Write several scenarios /Brainstorm different topics
  • Choose one
  • Identify paths for developing your theme into a case (track 1) or a case (track 2) that involves business, government, and society issues (emphasizing their ethical import)
  • Develop either a Social Impact Statement or a Case Study Analysis
    • See template used in Toysmart case (m14789)
    • Prepare a poster presentation for end of semester
choosing your topic
Choosing Your Topic
  • Tie to your areas of interest and research
  • Look for an ethical issue such as…
    • Avoiding harm
    • Integrating ethical and financial value
    • Balancing and respecting stakeholder rights
    • Transforming a dysfunctional corporate environment
  • Topic should be supported with reliable, accessible information
    • Look for information on its socio-technical system
  • Topic should be interesting and engaging. The time you spend preparing it should be time well spent.
track one case study
Track One: Case Study
  • Write out the case narrative
    • Accompany with a chronology table to help sum up and relate the different events
    • A narrative is a story with a beginning, middle (with some kind of obstacle), and an end (a resolution of the obstacle?)
  • Design a table portraying the Socio-technical System of your case
    • Provide a short paragraph length description of each component of the STS: hardware, software, physical surroundings, people/groups/roles, procedures, laws, information and Information systems
    • Use the STS analysis to specify your problem as an impending harm or a value vulnerability
  • Develop a Decision Point
    • This is a crucial point in the narrative where the participants are called upon to solve a problem with social and ethical implications
  • Work through the four steps to problem solving
    • Specify the problem
    • Generate solutions and refine to 3 or 4
    • Construct a Solution Evaluation Matrix to compare the solutions in terms of their ethics
    • Carry out a feasibility analysis to anticipate obstacles to solution implementation
  • Write out a short dialogue and act it out during your presentation (optional)
  • Recommend a course of action
  • Finance students develop a case that examines using financial instruments to produce deceptive end of year audit
  • Group examines the causes the Oil Storage Tank Explosions in Catano
  • Groups examines a drinking at the workplace problem from the perspective of a supervisor
  • Student group adopts an orphan: Laminating Press Case
  • Student group develops a scenario where programmer inserts a backdoor through which government officials can conduct secret surveilance
track two a socio impact statement
Track Two: A Socio Impact Statement
  • Executive Summary
    • Outlines problem, describes method used, lays out solutions, and summarizes report’s final recommendations
  • Construct Socio Technical System
    • Triangulate surveys, interviews, participatory observation
  • Identify Value Vulnerabilities in STS
  • Design and Compare Solutions using a Solution Evaluation Matrix
  • Compare Feasibility using Feasibility table
  • Conclusion
    • Restate conclusion and summarize its grounds.
  • Students assess the Windmar Windmill Project
  • Students identify recycling problem with the conversion of televisions from analogical to digital
  • Students examine evidence of harmful impacts of microwave towers
  • Student group identifies and resolves a value vulnerability in the layout of a UPRM computer lab.
track three responsible technological choice
Track Three: Responsible Technological Choice
  • Provide an executive summary of your case
  • Zoom-in: Describe the technical artifact in your case
    • Physical description (components and structure)
    • Describe it’s functioning: what it does when it functions as designed
    • User Manual: what a user has to do to get the artifact “working”
  • Zoom-out: Describe the underlying socio-technical system in terms of
    • Hardware, software, physical surroundings, stakeholders, procedures, laws/statutes/regulations, information systems
  • Examine the appropriateness of your technical artifact
  • Examine whether your technical artifact helps turn key capabilities into active functionings.
  • Amish Technological Choice
  • Biosand Filters
  • Bamboo as construction material for Puerto Rico
  • Fora do Eixo
  • Caribbean Speleothems as Climate Archives
  • Hydro-ecological Modeling Tools: A Socio-technical approach
1 provide an executive summary
1. Provide an Executive Summary
  • Acquaint the reader with highlights of your appropriate technology, the socio-technical system in which it functions, whether it is appropriate, and how it stands with human capabilities
2 zoom in on your case s main technical artifact
2. Zoom in on your case’s main technical artifact
  • Classify the artifact
    • Social
    • Artistic
    • Technical
  • Describe its physical characteristics and how its parts fit together
  • Outline what the artifact is doing when it is functioning as it was designed to function
    • Are there any “work arounds” that is functionings that were discovered after the product left the designer’s laboratory?
  • Provide user instructions that help users deploy the technical artifact or release it for its proper functioning
3 zoom out by describing the socio technical system
3. Zoom out by describing the socio-technical system
  • Identify the key sub-environments like…
    • Hardware, software, physical surroundings, people/groups/roles, procedures, laws, information systems
      • How do these constrain the functioning of the artifact?
      • How do these enable the functioning of the artifact?
  • Prepare a socio-technical system to summarize the results of your STS description
  • What is the trajectory of the STS? Is it value positive or negative?
4 discuss your technology and case using criteria of appropriate technology such as
4. Discuss your technology and case using criteria of appropriate technology such as…
  • Ecologically sound
  • Low-cost
  • Low-maintenance
  • Labor intensive
  • Energy efficient
  • Simple, efficient, non-violent
  • Oosterlaken et al on Appropriate Technology
  • Conducive to decentralization
  • Compatible with laws of ecology
  • Makes use of modern knowledge
  • Gentle in the use of resources
  • Serves the human person
  • Production by the masses
5 evaluate your technology using the capability approach
5. Evaluate your technology using the Capability Approach
  • Does your technical artifact serve as a conversion factor that helps individuals turn capabilities into functionings?
  • What environmental/STS features stand in the way of the realization of the capabilities you have chosen?
  • Is your technical artifact a personal, social, or environmental conversion factor?
  • Your will develop a poster presentation for May 6.
    • Presentation will be graded using a rubric.
    • Class and instructor will make suggestions for improvement
  • You will also will prepare a written report summarizing presentation and incorporating class feedback
    • Due May 13