Human Resource Management and Social Ethics

| May 21, 2015

Based upon your background and experience in multi-national organizations, outsourcing, and competing in the global marketplace, ABM Inc. hires you to be lead project-manager for its new electrical hand-tool manufacturing facility (factory) in San Jose City, Guatemala. Guatemala is a poor country with a GDP roughly half those of Brazil, Argentina, or Chile. The agricultural sector accounts for about one-fourth of GDP, two-thirds of exports, and half of the labor force. Coffee, sugar, and bananas are the main products. The signing of peace accords with rebels in 1998 ended 36 years of civil war although there is still some political violence at times. Corruption also continues to be a problem and dampens investor confidence. 70% of the population lives below the poverty line. Other challenges include increasing government revenues, upgrading government and private financial operations (banking), curtailing drug trafficking, and narrowing the trade deficit with developed nations. The President of ABM Inc. already knows you are fully capable of building and managing a start-up manufacturing facility, but she wants you to explain to the Board of Directors you are going to ensure ABM Inc. will be viewed as a “good neighbor and business partner” by the people in San Jose City and by the government of Guatemala. Draft a reasonably detailed memorandum to the president of ABQ Inc. outlining your short and long-range planning to accomplish her specific ethical goals. Make sure you discuss specific standards and outcomes you hope to achieve.
Consider the “Myth of Amoral Capitalism” in the context of the recent OCCUPY WALLSTREET MOVEMENT. What do you think mark the ethical boundaries between greed and/or legitimate self-interest and free market(s)/capitalism? What is the role of government/regulation in regulating the moral responsibilities of corporations? Is free market-capitalism in need of revolutionary change/overhaul, a minor ‘tune-up,’ or, alternatively, should we focus instead on deregulation and a “return to TRUE free markets? Please discuss BRIEFLY at least three relevant examples in your analysis.

ESSAY #3 (has two parts)
Yahoo and Google recently came under intense public criticism for management decisions made regarding business operations in China. These controversial decisions involved freedom of speech and censorship. As the CEO of a mid-size technology company (ACME Telecom), you are scheduled to brief the board of directors next week regarding your vision of expanding operations into China. You feel strongly that it is essential for ACME to capture new market share before competitors ‘beat ACME to the waterhole.’ Two members of the board have expressed concerns to you about the ethics of your plan. They don’t feel comfortable with the fact that ACME must agree in advance to comply with all Chinese domestic laws to obtain a permit to operate. This includes two areas of concern. The first is a demand that ACME incorporate non-removable (“green dam”) web-filters technology. The second is a contractual requirement to provide “full assistance” to Chinese law-enforcement authorities in tracking down and identifying “cyber-criminals.” Unfortunately, when China refers to “cyber-criminals,” they are often referring to free-speech activists and other political dissidents posting information critical or embarrassing to the Chinese government. Just recently, Google and Yahoo were severely criticized in the Western press for cooperating with Chinese authorities to reveal the true identities of two “free-speech” advocates who were posting anonymously on web-blogs. Both of these dissidents are now serving lengthy prison sentences for “counter-revolutionary tendencies” and “embarrassing the Chinese state.”

Part I: Using what you know about Yahoo and Google as background, write an informal memorandum to your board members convincing them to vote for your proposed course of action (i.e. a subsidiary company, “ACME-China Inc.”). In the memo, incorporate one (or more) of the following theories of ethics in your persuasive reasoning (Utilitarian, Duty-Based, Justice, Virtue).

Part II: Using the facts as stated in Essay #4 (see above), draft both a corporate Ethics Code and “Vision Statement” for ACME-China Inc. The code and vision statement will apply to both American managers/executives living and working for ACME in China and all domestic Chinese employees/managers. Make sure you incorporate both compliance-based and integrity-based principles and/or mechanisms in ACME-China’s Ethics Code. Ensure the ethics code conforms to the vision statement and vice-versa.

In just the last few months, there have been an alarming amount of arrests in the NFL (National Football League). Since only the start of 2013, twenty-seven (27) active players have been arrested, most notably star New England Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez for murder (and possibly multiple murders). Since the Super Bowl on February 3, 2012, sixty-four (yes, SIX-FOUR) NFL players have been arrested for common crimes like DUI and public intoxication, but also for things like street racing, child abuse, and trying to solicit a prostitute.

Of course, there are many angles to this story. Some people point out that for the age group in question (i.e. young men 19-25), the arrest percentage is actually not excessive. Others point out that these are (almost exclusively) well-educated young men, working for millions of dollars per year in a multi-billion dollar industry. These players have almost instant access to extensive support and/or counseling systems put in place to deal with their specific personal problems and needs. This includes an army of coaches, former coaches, trainers, agents, union representatives, doctors, therapists, and other counselors. A few commentators point to cultural and/or racial issues as part of the underlying problem. Finally, some others note this is probably just a “cyclical” phenomenon and that similar problems occurred during 2006.

Aaron Hernandez made the following statement to the press last fall when he signed a $41M dollar contract extension with his team. “You can’t come here and act reckless and do your own stuff. I might have acted the way I wanted to act, but you get changed by Bill Belichick’s way (the Patriot’s Head Coach). You get changed by the Patriots’ way. Now that I’m a Patriot, I have to start living like one, and making the right decisions for them.”

Congratulations, Roger Goodell, Commissioner of the National Football League, knows you are a well-respected business-ethicist (as well as human-resources expert). Goodell calls you in and hires you for big bucks to formulate a plan that accomplishes THREE-GOALS (3):

1. What IMMEDIATE steps (i.e. publicity, etc.) should the NFL take to restore current public confidence in the NFL?
2. DRAFT a (short) PLAYER-based (employee) Ethics Code to propose to players, the Players’ Union, team-owners, and coaches.
3. Summarize an EDUCATION and/or TRAINING program for players/coaches that can lead to establishing a better ethical/conduct environment and/or inculcation of your new code of ethical/conduct.

At this point, all the Commissioner needs from you TODAY is a reasonably brief (one page or less) PRESS RELEASE that summarizes the above steps.


Most business ethics philosophies center on one of three principles: the Golden Rule, Enlightened Self-Interest (in some form), and Utilitarianism. All three are based upon normal social and/or contractual interactions between business persons (people) and/or other business interests (i.e. corporations, governments, as well as other stake-holders). The most important business social exchanges are usually among and between stockholders, managers, employees, and (then) consumers. Governments also experience consequences from what businesses do (or do not do) and may react to interest groups, voters, and other political entities.

Pick any major and/or dominate multinational corporation such as Wal-Mart, Nike, or Nestle (you can pick any major global corporation). Within the SUPPLY CHAIN (process) how does/has your selected company (historically) respond(ed) to inappopriate or illegal conduct? Integrating the three ethical principles described above, briefly, but SPECIFCALLY discuss the moral/ethical responsibility of your company for inappropriate behavior when it occurs in the supply chain (i.e. overseas factories, suppliers, child-labor, etc.).

For the following problem, you will need to outline/describe the specific ethical analytical process/methodology you used in arriving at your answer.

An American executive visiting a subsidiary in India notices a 12-year-old girl cleaning the factory floor. She is appalled at this violation of Indian labor law and company’s ethics code and instructs local manager to replace the child worker with an adult. The girl is an orphan and sole breadwinner for herself and 6-year-old brother.

The 12 year old girl is unable to find another job. So in desperation she turns to prostitution. Two years later she dies of AIDS. Meanwhile, her brother takes up begging. The brother encounters the same American executive while begging outside the local McDonald’s. She walks rapidly past his outstretched hand into McDonald’s, where she orders her lunch with fries and cold milk shake. A year later the boy contracts tuberculosis and dies.

QUESTIONS (Essay 9): If the visiting American executive had been told of the situation up front:

1. What would be the ethical thing to do?
2. What moral responsibility, if any, rests upon the American executive?
3. What is the moral responsibility, if any, of the local (Indian) factory manager?
4. What role should cultural factors play in this situation?
5. Propose at least three (3) broad-based corporate-level ethics/compliance measures that would help prevent these scenarios in the future.




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