Electropic LLC’s Case: Introduction
At times, such as in the Electropic LLC’s Case, there are competing rights to a problem, implying that there is more than one right to solving a problem. However, there are varying consequences from choosing any one of the rights and this creates a dilemma, where a person is supposed to choose between right versus right choices. These right versus right problems are ethical dilemmas as opposed by moral, where a person has to make a choice between right versus wrong choices.
In a business context, managers and leaders often face tough choices where professional responsibilities conflict with personal values. When faced with such difficult problems, it is essential for the leader to employ an ethical framework to help analyze the questions that must be addressed in order to get a solution. This is especially so since an ethical dilemma is a defining moment for a leader as the choices they make are closely watched by other employees and stakeholders. The Electropic LLC’s case is one such instance involving a right versus right problem that requires a defined framework for establishing a perfect choice and course of action. The report will present an ethical and legal analysis of the case and present recommendations, plan of action, and conclusions.
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Badaracco’s Right vs. Right Framework in Electropic LLC’s Case
There are many ethical frameworks that managers and leaders can use to solve ethical dilemmas. One such framework is Badaracco’s right vs. right framework proposed by Professor Joseph Badaracco (Badaracco, 2002). The Badaracco’s framework is ideal in addressing the right versus right problems where an ethical dilemma raises more than one right that are based on ethical values that conflict and cannot be possibly fulfilled at the same time (Badaracco, 2002). To decide on the best choice based on conflicting responsibilities and leadership, ethical dilemmas, Badaracco proposes that people use a set of four questions and three tests that have stood the test of time.
The first question, when encountered with a right versus right problem, is to ask “which method of proceeding will raise the most ideal net-net consequences? (Badaracco, 2002). This question needs a leader to make a list of create a list of all possible winners, losers, costs, benefits, and risks, and net, net, net, net, net. After that is accomplished, then, pick a plan of action that creates most good and least harm. The ideology behind the first question of Badaracco’s right vs. right framework is grounded in utilitarianism ethical theory by John Stuart Mill. That is, responsible behavior is one that promotes the greatest happiness to the majority of the people. Ethical leaders should, thus, use a cost-benefit approach when faced with competing responsibilities, which is what most practical and serious people would do given the same ethical dilemma.
Applying the first question to the Electropic LLC’s case, it is important to list all the winners, losers, costs, benefits, risks, and then net all these and move forward with the choice that does more good than harm. The first right to this dilemma is that the HR could decide to recall the promotion of senior project manager at the company that was awarded to June Pyle due to the misrepresentation of qualifications on her resume, which is against Electropic LLC’s policy manual. By doing so, the winner of this decision would be Melissa Aldredge, who reported this finding to the HR and is also a potential replacement for the position that June is currently holding.
However, June was promoted not by her MBA, but her exemplary performance that increased the revenue and positive press for the company under her leadership. Thus, recalling her promotion and possibly instituting disciplinary action would potentially have negative effects on the revenues and performance of the company in general. This would then lead to reduced dividends to shareholders and other stakeholders including the employees. In addition, her superiors would not want to lose her due to her performance, and losing her would be against their wish. June, the shareholders, employees, and senior executives of the company will thus be losers if the HR goes with this right. In addition, this would have the potential of creating additional costs for the company pertaining to recruitment and risks of not getting a person that meets the requirements of the position.
The second right in Electropic LLC’s case would be to listen to June’s case and due to her exemplary performance and dedicated service to the company, let her keep the position of senior project manager and require her to provide a plan on how she will complete the remaining part of her MBA, which is a requirement for the position she now holds. This would see Melissa lose, but have many winners including June, shareholders, stakeholders, employees, and senior executives who would not want to lose June. It would also save the company of potential risks of not getting a right fit for the position and decreased revenues and company press. Based on the analysis of the competing right choices using the first question, the second choice maximizes the net-net consequences.
The second question faced with the right versus right problem is whose rights that we have to respect, no matter what. This is a matter of why a leader, faced with an ethical dilemma of a right versus right scenario, will not sacrifice the rights of one individual or party for those of the majority (Badaracco, 2002). There are many different kinds of rights such as human, political, economic and so forth. With the second question, it is not simply a matter of maximizing the net-net benefit by applying some kind of mathematical formula, for instance.
In Electropic LLC’s case June has a right to be accorded fairness, justice, respect, and job safety by the employer. The employer has a right of enforcing the policy manual through the Human Resources director and employ disciplinary actions to those contravening it. The shareholders have the right to earn high risk-adjusted returns for their investments. In addition, they have a right to have people in leadership positions that maximize their interests and minimize potential risks to their investment. It would be in the best interest of the company to respect the rights of June such as fairness, justice, respect, and job tenure.
Besides, she has earned the position as she was not promoted because of the MBA, but because of her stellar performance. It is through her contribution that the company has posted good returns and gained a positive press; this has also enhanced the enjoyment of rights by the employer and the shareholders. It can, thus, be deemed that it is the rights of June that must be respected, no matter what in this situation.
The third question is about character; it is not about maximizing the net-net benefits and neither is it about whose rights needs to be respected, but “what messages do I want to send about what I stand for, what we stand for, about our ideals and our principles going forward?” (Badaracco, 2002). It is what defines the character of a leader, and will be a defining moment as people will be referring to the decision you made.
It, thus, forces the leader to make considerations of long-term consequences of the choices made on their character when faced with a right versus right problem. The HR director could decide to fire June due to committing resume fraud which is against the policy manual of the organization. Such an action is a strong indicator of the character of the HR director in that s/he makes consideration of ethical values over performance. It could also send a message that s/he does not condone any form of fraud irrespective of the status of the person involved.
On the other hand, choosing to retain June and institute lesser disciplinary actions such as demotion or requiring her to plan how to finish her MBA could show that the HR could compromise their ethical values to save the organization in terms of performance and good reputation (the end justifies the means). This decision could potentially lead to future cases of fraud as it shows the leader lacks strong ethical values in the face of a high performer or any other desirable quality.
The fourth question is based on pragmatism and asks ‘what will work in the world as it is?” (Badaracco, 2002). Basically what this entails is based on Machiavelli’s notion of what works in the face of creativity, imagination, initiative, and willingness to take risks. Decision makers need to employ a Machiavelli’s approach to decision making and embark on choices that produce a definite difference and that are practical; not necessarily have to be based on utilitarianism, consequences, and character.
In Electropic LLC’s case, June is a high performer and it is through her achievements that the company has gained substantial revenue growth and a positive press. Furthermore, she was not promoted on the basis of her educational achievements, but rather due to her strong performance. It would, thus, be more practical to retain June in her current position, despite the fact that she has committed a resume fraud by misrepresenting her academic attainments.
The Badaracco’s framework also has three tests, in addition to the four questions, that decision makers need to apply to determine which plan of action to take when dealing with right versus right problems. These summarize the four questions when making decisions. The first test is the newspaper test, which is very pragmatic in the sense that a leader must take into consideration the plan that would work best if published in tomorrow’s newspaper (Badaracco, 2002). It takes a Machiavellian approach of what works in the world as it is, especially taking the consequences that come with viral news.
Considering the Electropic LLC’s case, there are two choices that would apply in the world as it is. First choice is letting June still continue working in her current position based on her track record, while working out a plan to get her MBA completed. The second choice is making her step down until such a time that she has the full qualifications for the position of senior project manager. However, the first choice is more practical as she was not promoted on the basis of her MBA, but rather performance.
The second test concerns the rights owed to people that must be respected. It pertains walking a mile in the other person’s shoes, the golden rule of doing unto others, and the notion of taking the decision in a manner that it would be ideal if it were affecting your kids (Badaracco, 2002). Considering the Electropic LLC’s case, the rights that must be respected are those of June of being accorded fairness, justice, and respect.
June gave a justification of why she lied on her resume and the reason of not completing her MBA. Based on her pleas, it would only be fair to let her keep her job so that she can continue supporting her family. If the HR was in the same shoes, s/he would not have wanted to be demoted or fired, especially based on the performance, and thus it is just to apply the same principles to June. It is also prudent to respect the job that June has at the company as that is what sustains her family.
The third test is the obituary test or the best friends test and basically concerns the character of the decision maker and that of the organization (Badaracco, 2002). The HR manager in Electropic LLC’s case must consider the best approach of dealing with the case from the long-term in perspective of someone they care about and whose admiration and respect they care about.
In June’s case, the HR should consider her as a friend and make the decision based on her stellar performance and sincerity in the face of the allegations facing her. Thus, dismissing her would not be the best course of action, but rather retaining her at the current position with conditions or reducing her responsibility for the period until she completes her MBA.
In the case of Electropic LLC, June was hired 10 years ago as an assistant project specialist. However, she had indicated that she had an MBA, which could be one of the reasons she was hired. That is, the employer could have relied on the MBA qualifications to consider her for the position and drop the competitors. This is a case of resume fraud, which is a specific type of civil fraud which involves the intentional misrepresentation of material facts made in an applicant’s resume, that could be justifiably relied upon during the hiring of that individual (“Résumé Fraud,”2020).
Specifically, June committed a positive resume misrepresentation by falsifying her credentials when she said she has an MBA. This was proven to be a lie when she was summoned by the HR director and she confessed she was 12 credits away from getting the MBA.
In the U.S., many states have sanctions imposed against resume fraud, mostly in the form of monetary compensation (damages) and jail time (“Résumé Fraud,”2020). States, however, differ on how they treat resume fraud, with some treating it as a civil violation while others treat it as a criminal violation. Depending on the state, an employee accused of resume fraud could face fines, sentencing, or both. However, it is not always the case that resume fraud attracts legal complications because resumes are not binding agreements between the employer and the applicant as they are protected by free-speech guidelines.
The case of June’s resume fraud falls under the falsifying of credentials which is a misrepresentation of material facts that could be relied upon by an employer in the hiring of the applicant and this could be a justifiable reason to fire her. Employment at will employees, such as June, can potentially be fired without any recourse in law as pertains the exceptions to the employment at will doctrine, if they are found to have committed resume fraud (“Résumé Fraud,”2020).
Therefore, the HR is at will to terminate the employment of June for reasons of committing resume fraud. June will not have any recourse as per the exceptions to the employment at will doctrine so long as the employer reasonably justifies that she committed the fraud, which they relied during her hiring (“Employment at Will,” 2020). In addition, the company could be at pains getting any damages since the positions she was in the company before her promotion did not require an MBA qualification; also, her promotion was based on performance and so the employer relied on performance rather than the credentials for the promotion.
The ethical analysis using Badaracco’s right versus right framework presented a variety of viewpoints based on the four questions that analyzed the ethical dilemma in terms of consequences, rights, character, and pragmatism. Badaracco offers an ethical framework which is meant to balance the choice or action plan taken by a decision maker by relying on all the four questions and the three ethical tests. These questions need to be used together to prevent a scenario where the manager makes self-interested judgments, those that do not follow a formal framework.
In addition, the legal analysis presents a legal lens of what could or should be done in the circumstances surrounding a case. In consideration of the analysis of Electropic LLC’s case using Badaracco’s framework and the legal analysis, the most feasible action would be to look at the most practical course of action in the word as it is, and though a tough choice, it is best to retain June at her current position and offer her a plan to complete her MBA.
Goal: June Pyle is to retain the position of senior project manager.
Strategy: Develop a structured plan for June to complete her MBA while not affecting her job performance. Essentially, she should be in an acting position until the successful completion of the program.
Objective: Placing her in an acting position will act as a motivator to complete the remaining 12 credits soonest so that she can be fully confirmed in the position.
Responsibility: The HR manager will be responsible for regular follow-ups on the plan for the completion of the remaining credits and will also help June device a practical plan on how to complete her MBA program and fulfill her job duties.
Timeline: A timeline of 24 months will be given to June upon whom she should ensure all the remaining credits are successfully completed.
Right versus right problems have multiple rights, and where the alternative choices have conflicting responsibilities and virtues. Thus, decision makers need consistent tools for analyzing the ethical landscape of such problems and move forward. In the end, tough decisions must be made and it is not a must that such decisions yield a win-win scenario. One such consistent method of analyzing ethical dilemmas is the Badaracco’s right versus right framework which uses a set of four questions and three tests to balance conflicting courses of action.
These questions and tests analyze the ethical dilemma in terms of consequences, rights, character, and pragmatism. It is also necessary to examine the legal aspects of a case to determine the possible consequences for the decisions taken. The Electropic LLC case is one such problem that presents as a right versus right problem. The decision taken after using Badaracco’s framework and legal considerations is that June needs to remain in her current position as the senior project manager, but in an acting position until such a time that she completes her MBA, all this while under the supervision of the HR team.
Badaracco, J. L. (2002, January 1). Harvard FSS: Defining moments: A framework for moral decisions. Lecture Text. https://web-b-ebscohost-com.ezproxy.umuc.edu/ehost/pdfviewer/pdfviewer?vid=1&sid=54aaf68a-2eda-41ee-8545-34b4bfeb1225%40pdc-v-sessmgr02
Employment at Will. (2020). Document posted in University of Maryland University College MBA 630 1131 online classroom, archived at: https://leocontent.umgc.edu/content/umuc/tgs/mba/mba630/2202/learning-topic-list/employment-at-will.html?ou=457579
Résumé Fraud. (2020). Document posted in University of Maryland University College MBA 630 1131 online classroom, archived at: https://leocontent.umgc.edu/content/umuc/tgs/mba/mba630/2202/learning-topic-list/resume-fraud.html?ou=457579