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What are the relevant facts?
In the case study, Lillian was recently promoted to the position of a district manager of information systems technology in a certain firm. She has just learnt that a recently installed information system is faulty. William, Lillian’s supervisor, knows about the condition, and he has been misguiding the top management about the efficiency of the system. A few days ago, an unidentified employee wrote to the firm’s executive informing him about the system’s inefficiencies. As a result, the CEO has requested a reply to the letter from Lillian. In a bid to conceal the faults about the system, William has approached Lillian and informed her to draft the reply in line with his earlier report, which lied that the system was efficient. William informs Lillian that failure to abide by his directive will lead to qualms about her capabilities in her position.
Based on the above illustrations, it is apparent that William wants Lillian to defend his previous mistakes. It is with no doubt that Lillian is not responsible for the system’s faultiness. On the other hand, it was wrong for William to lie to the firm’s CEO that the system was performing as required. Instead, he could have provided the right information because in due time the CEO will learn about the issue and may form an inquiry team to investigate on the matter. In the event of such situation, William will be answerable.
What are the ethical issues?
Ethical issues are challenges that require an entity to decide between two options, which are either ethical or unethical (Beauchamp & Bowie, 2004). In the above case study, Lillian is faced with several ethical issues. She has to decide whether to obey William’s directives or to disobey them. Equally, she has to decide whether to protect his supervisor or not. Given that Lillian has worked very hard to be in her position, she has to make her decisions very carefully.
Who are the primary stakeholders?
In an organization, primary stakeholders comprise of all entities involved in business deals with the organization. In the above case, the primary stakeholders include their employees, their consumers, their creditors, their investors, and their suppliers. The failure of the system will affect the organization’s efficiencies. In return, the primary stakeholders would equally be affected.
What are the possible alternatives for Lillian?
According to the case study, Lillian has three alternatives. She either chooses to abide by her supervisor’s directive or not. Similarly, Lillian can come up with a reply indicating the system has faulty but exonerate William from being responsible. Through this, Lillian should indicate that the system had been functioning as required and only developed issues some few days ago. By doing so, Lillian will satisfy the CEO’s queries and save William from being indicted.
What are the ethics of the alternatives?
According utilitarian perspective, Lillian should abide by William’s directive to avoid putting him into trouble with the executive (Beauchamp & Bowie, 2004). If Lillian follows the approach, she would be lying to the CEO. It is a fact that the newly and expensive system does not meet the expected results. Therefore, the system will affect the efficiency of the firm. This implies that in the long-term the system will cost the firm a lot of labor and resources. Equally, if the Lillian lies to the CEO and the executive realizes she may lose her job and be prosecuted. Therefore, it would be morally wrong for her to abide by William’s directive.
On the other hand, if she declines to follow William’s directive she would have saved the company from system failures in the future. Equally, she would not be responsible for the system failure when an investigation will be carried out. However, her ability to operate as a district leader will be doubted by William. It is ethical for her to decline William’s directive and report the truth to the CEO.
According to the theory of justice, Lillian should adopt a situation that does not disadvantage anyone (Beauchamp & Bowie, 2004). This implies that he should adopt an approach that does not disadvantage William or the CEO. Though this approach is ideal, it is unethical because William will be protected from being answerable to his mistakes.
What actions should be taken?
As indicated above, Lillian will be affected more if she abides by William’s directive compared to if she rejects the directives. Equally, by rejecting the directive she would save the company from huge operational costs in the future. For these reasons, it is ethical for Lillian to reject William’s directives. The CEO has the right to know that the system is dysfunctional and that it does not meet the company’s expectations. Thereafter, the matter should be investigated to identify the reasons of the failures, and whether the persons involved in the purchase of the system duped the company. In the event that there was dishonesty in the purchase of the system, those responsible should be held answerable.
Beauchamp, T. L., & Bowie, N. E. (2004). Ethical theory and business. Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice-Hall.