Brilliant Madness – A case studyZoe Fieldis an immigrant and a single parent who is getting her first break intocorporate America in the early nineties. She is hired by a CEO of a smallstart-up hi-tech company as the director of HR. Zoerecruits and builds the HR infrastructure of the company, which is growing veryfast. The company goes public within a year, and begins to raise a lot of moneyfrom the public. Zoe is given stock options and told that these options willone day pay for her son’s college. She gets promoted and becomes a VP. She isthrilled to learn about the stock market and how to raise money from thepublic.
Like many other employees in the company, she starts trading in thestock market – including the company’s stock – and discovers the joy of makingfast money. A yearlater, while attending an investment conference in Chicago, Zoe calls to checkin with her staff and finds out that her company has been written up in thenewspapers on suspicion of violating stock exchange regulations – a charge thatthe executive management strongly denies. The stock price drops, and thecompany begins getting a lot of calls from irate investors. Zoe and otheremployees with whom she is friendly are increasingly aware that the executiveteam has been overselling the company products in an attempt to push the stockprice higher and raise more money from the public. Although Zoe does not knowto what extent the executive management is misrepresenting the companyfinances, she begins to feel uneasy about what is happening. She has developeda strong bond with her boss, the CEO, and finds it hard to think about him as adishonest man. Thecompany, which has grown to 500 people, is beginning to lose some of itstalented employees and to downsize. Zoe finds herself with less work and startsgetting involved in volunteer activities within her immigrant community.
Theextent of her outside involvement becomes apparent and brought to her boss’sattention. After a heart-to-heart talk, they agree that she will work part-timein the company as long as she meets her responsibilities. Zoe explores other opportunities and decidesto build her own consulting firm while continuing to work part-time for thecompany.
A yearlater, Zoe gets her big break. She findsan important client and decides to leave the company. Her boss asks her torecruit and train her own replacement before she leaves. Zoe feels uncomfortable about bringingsomeone to a company which is on a downturn and possibly engaged in illegal andunethical practices. However, out ofloyalty to the company and her boss, she undertakes to find her own replacementand train him/her. She manages to find a replacement with whom she shares someof the issues without fully disclosing the company’s situation; but a fewmonths later, this person leaves. Zoefinds another replacement and moves on before the second person quits. Five years later, the company is sued forstock exchange violations and the whole senior management is replaced.
Pleaserespond to the following questions: State your gut reaction without any explanation and/or rationalization Describe the types of ethical issues that Zoe and the company faced from the perspectives of all the stakeholders. Please explain your choices. (for example: Conflict of interest – be specific among what stakeholders; discrimination, sexual harassment, confidentiality, cheating/stealing, transparency, etc.) State the goals in solving the ethical dilemma form the perspectives of all the stake holders Identify what information is clear and what is the missing; what questions to ask and/or assumptions to make 5. Whatare the core ethical questions to ask and which philosophical model may help tounderstand and solve the dilemma and why Identify the cognitive biases to ethical decisions that have been demonstrated in Zoe’s and the company’s behavior and explain why. Please focus on the four congnitive biases described in lesson three.