Ethics, Sustainability and Culture

Length: 3000 words
Task
This essay has three parts. Complete all three parts – i.e. Part (a), Part (b), and Part (c).

Part (a)

Read the following case study. Explain why it can be considered to raise ethical issues.

Trouble at Mill
Robert is the Human Resources Manager for a mill in a rural town that is a part of a large foreign owned multi-national cereals company. As Human Resources Manager, Robert has been involved in discussions with the corporate senior management. At these meetings he was asked to report on all human resource aspects of the mill?s operations. Subsequent to this meeting, he was advised that the mill would be closed down within a year because it was old and surplus to the company?s needs. In order to avoid industrial action and a community backlash, he was asked not to discuss this possibility with anyone else in the mill – including other managers all of whom believe the mill is in for a period of sustained growth. Finally, he was advised that there was a vacancy for a senior HR professional coming up at the company?s head office. He was strongly encouraged to apply for this position. Shortly after these meetings, the mill store-person resigned. The store-person?s position at the mill is vital to the efficient operation of the company: the job involves checking stores in and out and maintaining a sophisticated inventory system. It is a skilled position that requires someone with long experience in the field. The job has always been full-time and union covered. Following job vacancy advertisements and culling, Robert, along with the Mill Production Manager, interviewed 5 applicants for the job. All had good credentials; however, one (James) had significantly more experience and relevant skills having worked two jobs previously with an identical inventory system. This applicant also came across confidently in the interview and was by far and away the most suitable for the job.
However, at the conclusion of the interview Robert asked the applicant whether he had any questions. James replied:
?Yes thank you. I was retrenched from my last two jobs because of company restructures. In fact, as you would know from my application, I was only in my last job for 6 months before I was retrenched: being one of the last on meant I was one of the first off. I cannot afford to be retrenched anymore. I am looking for a secure and interesting position that allows my wife and I to buy a house and remain in the local area with our children. The job you are offering certainly appears to be interesting, but can you tell me how secure it is? If I take this job is there any risk that I might be retrenched within the next 12 months or so? Are you aware of any plans to close the plant??

Adapted from: Smithers, S. (1996) Trouble at Mill: A Case Study in Business Ethics, Bendigo : Precision Pictures

Part (b)
Using the material in the text, notes, readings and other sources;
(i) Describe the main characteristics of Ethical Egoism and Utilitarianism,
(ii) Critically discuss how each of these approaches could be applied to the case referred to in Part (a).

Part (c)
Indicate which of the above two theoretical approaches you would use in the circumstances of the case referred to in Part (a) and give your reasons for preferring this approach over the other. Do not describe what actually happened in the case. Focus on what you think would be the most appropriate approach in the light of your studies of the ethical theories. Indicate your chosen approach clearly at the beginning of this section and then argue your case for it.

Rationale
Assesment Item 1 has been designed to test your understanding of two ethical theories and your ability to criticaly apply them to an ethical issue.

Marking criteria
Your assignment will be graded taking into account the extent to which you have:
? addressed the assignment tasks set, kept to the topic and covered only relevant issues;
? shown in the content of your discussion that you have collected and read relevant literature;
? expressed other people’s ideas in your own words and gone beyond what they have said on the topic by adding your own ideas, opinions and experiences;
? demonstrated that you understand the concepts, theory and debates covered by the question;
? taken a critical orientation to the literature you read, the issues you raise and the debates you discuss;
? structured your paper into a clear flow of argument or reasoning that makes sense and is persuasive;
? been clear and concise in your descriptions, analysis, discussion and expression;
? given attention to the rules of writing in relation to paragraphing, punctuation, spelling, etc.;
? appropriately cited references; and
? kept to the approximate word length.

 

 

 

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