SOLUTION: BHR 3551 Columbia Southern University Week 4 Interpersonal Relations Case Study

Running head: Case Study
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Unit 4: Case Study
Columbia Southern University
Case Study
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Unit 4: Case Study
This is a case study of “The One Cent Ethical Dilemma” from Dubrin’s Human
Relations. To review, Rajah has worked hard to achieve his degree in business administration
and marketing and obtained a retail management job at the age of 23. After a few months of
working for this company, his regional manager instructs him that if a customer is owed one
penny, then his cashiers are not to give back the penny unless the customer insists on it. The
reason to do this is to increase the profits for the year. Rajah does not agree with the new policy
but encourages his cashiers to follow it anyway. After a week though, he feels as though he is
forcing his cashiers to do something unethical and possibly illegal. He does not want to lose his
job by complaining or not complying with the new company policy.
Rajah has a real dilemma with the new policy. As explained by Trevino and Brown in
the article “Managing to Be Ethical: Debunking Five Business Ethics Myths,” being ethical is
not easy for the following reasons.
1.
2.
3.
4.
5.
6.
7.
Complexity of ethical decisions.
Predisposition to be unethical.
Self-interest.
Levels of moral development.
Moral disengagement.
Goals that reward unethical behavior.
Motivated blindness
The complexity of the one-cent dilemma is that it can be considered stealing, but the customers
do not care about the penny collected which may help the company stay in business and keep
everyone working. We do not know enough about Rajah to know if he has a predisposition to be
unethical, but it does not seem that way due to his guilt of following the orders. Rajah is
motivated by his self-interest; He does not want to lose his job. His level of moral development
is also an issue because he does not want to upset his employer. Also, given his age, he probably
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does not have much experience dealing with issues like this. He is obviously distressed about
the situation, so moral disengagement does not apply here. It can be implied that being rewarded
for this behavior may play a part, as well. As a manager of a store, he most likely qualifies for a
year end bonus, if the store does well. Lastly, I do not think motivated blindness plays a part for
Rajah because he is aware that there a question of ethics with this policy.
Questions
What Actions do You Recommend Rajah Take About His Concerns with Respect to the New Policy?
I would recommend Rajah follow the eight steps to sound ethical decision making found
below (Treviño & Nelson, 1995).
1. Gather the facts: Some facts that I would want to gather in this situation are: Who
has requested this policy change? Is it the regional manager or the CEO? Are
there legal issues involved? Do I have the authority to not comply with the new
policy? How do my employees feel about the policy?
2. Define the ethical issue: At first glance it may look like the company is stealing
from their customers, but Rajah may want to talk to one of his past business
professors or a family member to assist him in defining the issue.
3. Identify the affected parties: In this case, the customers, Rajah, his cashiers,
company stakeholders and the surrounding community are a few of the possible
parties effected by this policy.
4. Predict the consequences: Raja will need to predict the possible consequences for
each of the affected parties.
a.
b.
c.
d.
Customers can lose money and trust in the company.
Rajah could be criminally liable.
Cashiers could be criminally liable.
The stakeholders could lose money when people realize what is going on
through word of mouth or bad press and take their business elsewhere.
e. The community could suffer if the company goes out of business – losing
jobs, ratables, a place to shop, etc.
5. Identify the obligations and the reasons for each obligation when making a
complex decision: Rajah, as manager, is obligated to protect his employees from
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possible criminal charges and/or from having to do something that is against their
personal code of ethics.
6. Consider your character and integrity: Rajah has made obvious that he is does not
believe it is ethical.
7. Think creatively about potential actions: Rajah should try thinking past just
complying or whistleblowing. He should come up with ideas that achieve what
the company is looking for and that he feels is ethically suitable. For example,
keep the penny, but then quarterly, donate the money to a charity, then the
company can use it as a deduction – the company gets a money boost, looks good
to the community, and the customers will not mind giving up the penny.
8. Check your intuition: Rajah’s immediate feeling or intuition is that it is wrong.
Explain whether you think Rajah should blow the whistle on his employer?
I believe that Rajah must exert upward ethical leadership. He should try to resolve the
issue with his regional manager first. If that does not solve his moral issue, then go above the
regional manager and try to resolve it higher up. If this does not work, then I would suggest
whistleblowing to a government agency like Bureau of Consumer Protection.
What is your opinion of the ethics of the new policy about withholding one cent in change?
I agree with Rajah. Taking a penny or not offering to give the customer their change is
stealing. Of course, I am ethically opposed to stealing anything.
Is there a need for ethics training? If so, why?
Yes, there should be company-wide ethics training from the intern to the CEO. An ethics
training program assists in developing a worker’s ethical skills. As they develop these skills,
workers will become more comfortable in asking about ethical issues, turning in ethical
violations, recognizing ethical dilemmas, making ethical decisions and avoiding unethical
situations.
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How often should ethics training take place? Why?
Ethics training should happen immediately at the time of hire and refreshed annually.
The facilitator can utilize ethical issues from the past year as examples and teach the employees
how each example was handled. If they were handled correctly, they will understand, but if not,
then they can be taught how to handle the situation should it arise in the future. The employees
should not need to be lectured monthly on ethics, if the company is trying to hire good, ethical
people in the first place.
By having ethics training, what can the employer and employees learn?
Dubrin (2014) states that no amount of ethical training will guarantee that employees will
act ethically in every situation. In my experience, though, much can be learned from ethics
training. Managers learn how to make clear, ethical decisions. These decisions can keep their
employees out of ethical dilemmas, avoid bad press and lawsuits, and reduce any other liabilities
that stem from poor ethical decision making. Watching their managers and taking the training
also, employees can deal with ethical dilemmas, if they arise, and learn how to behave ethically
in a diverse workplace.
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References
DuBrin, A. J. (2014). Human Relations. [VitalSource Bookshelf]. Retrieved
from https://online.vitalsource.com/#/books/9780133932751/
Treviño, L.K.& Brown, M.E., “Managing to Be Ethical: Debunking Five
Business Ethics Myths,” Academy of Management Executive, May 2004, pp. 69–72.
Treviño, L. K., & Nelson, K. A. (1995). Managing business ethics: Straight talk about how to do
it right. New York: J. Wiley & Sons., pp. 71-75

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