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Cooper’s Ethical Decision-Making Model Explicatory Essay


The ethical decision-making model as advanced by Cooper (2009) offered a way through which sequences of questions can be formulated to provide guidance to the public administrators in a systematic evaluation of identical and challenging moral predicaments. The model has varied features that involve various levels of views concerning ethical apprehensions ranging from expressive to moral reflections.

In between the levels of perspectives are the moral rules and the ethical analysis. The Coopers decision-making model also includes sequences of steps that are iterative and back-looping (Cooper, 2012). The steps range from the description of the dilemma to finding the fit or ethical resolution.

Within the continuum of the series of steps are the definitions of the ethical issues involved, ascertaining the unconventional method as well as having a forecast of the conceivable consequences (Cooper, 2012). The varied features and consequences remain critical in the analysis of the Corcoran case.

Description of the Situation and Ethical Issues Involved in the Case

The case of Corcoran State Prison presents ethical situations that involve public administrators as well as the civil servants. The case revolves around the two prison guards Rigg and Caruso who were discontented with the manner in which the inmates were being treated.

Rigg and Caruso were particularly not happy with the way the inmate, Preston Tate, was treated and finally murdered by fellow prison guards and how the guards manipulated the reports in order to justify their actions (Dryburgh, 2009). According to Rigg and Caruso, the actions of the fellow prison guards were unwarranted and amounts to unethical behavior as well as contrary to the mission and values of the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDOCR).

The core values of the department are based on integrity, justice and accountability, which were constantly being violated by the prison guards either by their conducts or their correctional strategies.

Description of the Possible Course of Action the Guards Could Have Taken

Exposing the unethical behaviors was not been the only action Caruso and Rigg could have taken. In fact, there were various options which included creating change within the organization through inventing new strategies of dealing with inmates’ violent behaviors (Cooper, 2012).

Besides, Rigg and Caruso could have opted to use ethical procedures by involving the authorities within the prison ranks not only within the Corcoran correction department but also from the major corrections departments within the state and at the federal levels. Moreover, Caruso and Rigg could have retrained the other prison guards on the moral issues and values of the organization as well as the consequences.

The Reasons Why They Chose to be Whistle Blowers

Rigg and Caruso decided to go public after all the alternative strategies failed. In fact, the attempts made by Caruso and Rigg to create change within the department failed before turning to the FBI for help (Dryburgh, 2009). Caruso and Rigg attempted to create awareness by citing deficiency in the laws that regulated the use of firearms and the conduct of the prison guards.

Rigg and Caruso argued that even though the prison guards were authorized to use the firearms, there were no clear rules on how the firearms should be used. Besides, Caruso and Rigg were loyal to the mission of the department that was aimed at guiding all employees’ leadership and behavior (Dryburgh, 2009).

Positive and Negative Consequences of Each Possible Course of Action

Each action by Rigg and Caruso had both positive and negative consequences. The action of whistle blowing or going public, which Caruso and Rigg resolved to take finally resulted into the two guards losing their jobs either by resigning or being fired from the organization.

Besides, whistle blowing resulted in the continuous suffering from the fear of retaliation even after leaving the public services and being offered the court protections. However, the action satisfied the individuals’ ego of being ethical and the need to uphold moral behaviors and conducts within the public service (Cooper, 2012).

On the part of the organization, the Corcoran prison department suffered the reputational damage particularly, in the public perspective. Besides, the department suffered a financial loss through the compensations made into one of the whistle blowers.

Even though the actions of creating change within the prison department did not result in the positive outcome, it was one of the best ways of creating and instilling ethical conducts within the organization. However, the organization did not recognize the importance of such ethical actions. As a result, Caruso and Rigg were perceived as going against the wishes of the organization and the fellow guards.

An Explanation of How the Ethical dilemma Was Resolved and Its Impacts

The ethical dilemma in this case is whether to disclose the immoral behavior in the part of prison officers or face the consequences of being fired from the civil services. The ethical issues presented in the case are one of the moral predicaments facing public servants (Cooper, 2012).

In the case, Caruso and Rigg used both internal and external channels to express their concern about the manner in which the inmates were being treated (Dryburgh, 2009). The environmental changes in both the workplace practices and legal system enabled the two guards to take action even though they were fully aware of the consequences.

However, the whole issue was settled in court and even though the prison department did not admit any wrongdoing, it suffered the consequence of financial loss through compensations made to the guards.


Cooper, T. L. (2012). The responsible administrator: An approach to ethics for the administrative roles. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons

Dryburgh, M. M. (2009). Personal and policy implications of whistle-blowing: The case of Corcoran State Prison. Public Integrity, 11(2), 155–170.

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"Cooper’s Ethical Decision-Making Model." IvyPanda, 22 June 2019, ivypanda.com/essays/coopers-ethical-decision-making-model-2/.

1. IvyPanda. "Cooper’s Ethical Decision-Making Model." June 22, 2019. https://ivypanda.com/essays/coopers-ethical-decision-making-model-2/.


IvyPanda. "Cooper’s Ethical Decision-Making Model." June 22, 2019. https://ivypanda.com/essays/coopers-ethical-decision-making-model-2/.


IvyPanda. 2019. "Cooper’s Ethical Decision-Making Model." June 22, 2019. https://ivypanda.com/essays/coopers-ethical-decision-making-model-2/.


IvyPanda. (2019) 'Cooper’s Ethical Decision-Making Model'. 22 June.

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