Use of the Ethical Decision Making Model

Use of the Ethical Decision Making Model




Use of the Ethical Decision Making Model


Ethical decision-making is necessitated by a considerable level of trained sensitivity to ethical issues. Ethics within organizations are guided by law and the culture that is instituted. Corporate governance provides the scope of the programs and activities for the organization. Employees act as representatives of the organization and play an important role in promoting ethics in the firm. Controversial issues affect businesses and have a long lasting impact on the organization, individuals and public acceptance. Prospects that offer short-term profits at the expense of ethical behavior should be avoided. Unethical conduct can harm the reputation of individuals and the firm. In the long-term, profit levels fall and shareholder confidence declines. JD Berensen is an IT test consultant that is faced with legal issues that originate from his job.

He has a promising career as he managed to rise through the ranks with hard work and integrity. However, his position is compromised when his boss requires him to breach his contract with a previous employer and provide valuable information. In addition, his employer wants to hire George Bromely, an employee that worked with JD and lacked competency in his managerial responsibilities. The JD Berensen case provides an essential example of the ethical dilemma that employees face in IT firms. His choices are shaped by legal, professional, social, personal and intrinsic factors. These issues are analyzed to establish a conclusive ethical decision. An ethical decision-making model will create a system that culminates into the right decision.


Some of the main forces that influence the decisions by Berensen include legal, professional, social, personal and intrinsic issues.

Legal Factors

Laws are established in order to provide a code of conduct among individuals. Legal responsibilities are instituted under various organizational and constitutional laws (Wines, 2006). Failure to follow the due course of law results in punishment among offenders. Breach of agreement is the main issue that JD faces if he provides his boss with information from Vendor A. JD had signed a contract with vendor A, which protects the information and intellectual property applied in the organization. Vendor B requires an insider report on the acquisition and pricing strategy, which is against the law. Breach of contract may result in lawsuits for JD and the firm. Privacy legislation is an important factor in JD’s situation. He is offered a similar managerial position in his new organization. If JD discloses the strategies of his previous company, privacy is compromised. Legal issues related to the Code of Ethical conduct are also highlighted. Providing the crucial information is against the Code of Ethical conduct.

Professional Factors

Providing the information is equivalent to breach of contract, which is unprofessional. The professional code of conduct requires members not to involve themselves in dishonest and fraudulent practices. Professionalism in computing also requires members to exercise utmost integrity in their positions. Offering insider information will compromise the integrity of JD. The managers in the organization were interested in his previous duties at Vendor A in order to apply them for competition in the bidding process. This establishes the intention to use dishonest mechanisms to improve the sales of the organization. Professionalism dictates that organizations should not engage in activities that are dishonest in order to increase profitability (Butterfield, 2011). The boss also signifies dishonest behavior when he asks JD to provide insider information. JD’s position on the consideration of hiring George would require professionalism, as he knew of his poor performance.

Employment and Social Factors

JD was highly experienced and valuable as he joined vendor A. He established himself as a well-respected IT consultant. He had worked under difficult circumstances as he replaced George, the test manager. Limited finance, poor and inexperienced testing teams such as Jerry would undermine the outcome of the eCommerce project, which later failed. He declined to succumb to pressure from George to retract the need for a performance contract for Jerry. He lost an opportunity to work on another project because of a bad review from George.

He worked at Vendor A afterwards and improved his management skills and experience. His competence was awarded over time to become a member of the senior management. After the company was sold and restructured, he became unemployed. He got a new position at Vendor B who was interested in his previous position at their competitor Vendor A. He also has the opportunity for social mobility because his employer assures him a promising career.

Personal Factors

            He became “team-lead” for the eCommerce project in order to make it a success. Pressure form his boss to provide the detailed report from his previous firm may undermine his integrity. This is a personal matter because he is an honest and transparent individual. The consideration by his boss to employ George is a personal issue for JD because his bad review undermined his opportunity for the new job. JD was determined to make his first project a success in order to further his career in a senior role. He forwarded himself to replace George as the testing manager. His determination to rise in the corporate ladder is evident in the subsequent organizations he works. JD has ethical standards as he seeks to ask Vendor A to conduct a performance review on Jerry. However, George pressured him to withhold this request because of the future projects. JD did not retract from his position because he was unsatisfied with Jerry’s performance. This becomes a personal issue for JD because George issued a bad review about his performance.


Factor Related issue
Legal Factors

Breach of agreement

Privacy legislation


Code of ethical conduct




Providing insider information from Vendor A

If JD offers insider reports on acquisition and pricing

Using insider information is a dishonest method of competition

JD should not disclose the information from Vendor A.

Professional Factors

Manger signifies deceitful behavior


Organizational dishonesty


Consideration of George




Encourages JD to provide vital information from previous employer

Use of a competitor’s information to gain an advantage

Has poor professional performance and lacks competency. .


Employment and Social Factors

Poor working conditions



Work experience


Senior manger


His eCommerce project had job constraints.

JD was jobless for sometime because of a bad review from George.

JD has worked for over four years work experience in IT.

Rose through ranks to become Senior Manager at Vendor B

Personal Factors

Promising career


“Team-lead” for eCommerce project


Peer pressure


George’s employment


His boss promises a promising career if he provides information

JD advances his job portfolio by positioning himself as lead for the eCommerce project.

His boss encourages him to provide vital information with attractive proposals.

He wrote a bad review for JD.


Intrinsic Factors



Social status




He offered to become team head to boost his career.

He has the chance of nomination to the exclusive Gentleman’s club.

He advances his career with integrity


JD must consider the implications of his final decision for the situations. He should undertake systematic analysis of the choices he should make. In addition, a review of the available options will result in a rational decision. Integrity is the main consideration of the ultimate choice (Stalcup, 2000). As an IT professional, he must follow the ethical code of conduct. Legal issues involved are the main priority because they affect both him and the organization. Failure to comply with the law has negative implications such as lawsuits. Refusal to provide the strategic information is the best option. He should also be honest about George’s level of performance without including the personal issue of the bad review.

Evaluation and Discussion

Ethical dilemmas provide for situations that have multiple alternatives. However, the choice of undertaking the morally right alternative is the responsibility of the individual. Legal, professional, social, employment, personal and intrinsic factors provide for a system of evaluation. These factors are prioritized in order of their importance to aid in the selection of the best choice. Significant issues that are interrelated are considered in their prioritization. These factors are evident in JD’s situation, which ultimately result in the final decision.

Issues in Factor Prioritization

Legal issues are the main priority in JD’s situation. JD has multiple legal matters to address in his situation. Legal affairs are the most influential aspects of ethical decisions. This is because ethics follow particular guidelines that are established by law. Behavior judgment is based on specific ethical theory or moral philosophy. Ethical theories also create a system of reference for moral approaches and principles (Singer, 2010). Ethics and law are related as they are based on the morals of society. They are both involved in the regulation of individual conduct in an organization and society in general. The system of regulation involves courts and functional judgments.

The legal issues would ultimately affect all other aspects of JD’s life. Breaching the contract would affect the organization, professionalism, social and personal issues. The general awareness of the legal implications is also necessary. His level of obedience to the law depends on the active support of moral sentiments among other people. In JD’s situation, his boss encourages him to act against the law. This mounts pressure on the selection of the best choice for the situation. His assurance of a promising career and exclusive club membership compromise the legal choice by JD.

The legal aspects of the case are also prioritized because organizations have instituted a legal system to promote ethical conduct. Organizational honesty, confidentiality and privacy are also affected through a system of laws. Failure of compliance leads to legal redress. The request from the boss undermines these legal issues. The lack of honesty is an integral issue in JD’s case and takes precedence as a professional factor. Professionals are distinguished from other individuals at the marketplace because of their ethical conduct. The code of ethical conduct defines the duties and responsibilities of employees and employers in organizations (Fryer, 2011).

Professional issues involved in JD’s situation are of prime importance because he has the determination to advance his career. They determine the lifestyle he lives. These issues influence his social and personal position in society. This is clear when his boss offers him the opportunity for nomination to an exclusive member’s club. The club has a reputation of accommodating high level organizational and government officials. Social status is determined through the individual level of employment and position in an organization. This affects his final choice whether to produce the detailed report or not.

JD seeks to advance his career in order to improve his social and personal life throughout the case study. This affects the decision that he will make whether to promote personal interests or not. The dilemma presents several prospects for JD to boost himself towards a better lifestyle. This is because he has worked in lower positions to rise to the position of Senior Manager. He also has personal values such as integrity that promote social good. Personal factors such as the peer pressure form his boss are of less importance because he would ultimately have to make an individual assessment of the choices that are available. These areas of interest finally lead to the intrinsic factors. These are not influenced by external forces but rather influenced by the individual (Eigo, 2000).

Ethical Decision-making

Ethical issues are identified and decided through the application of several methods. Decision-making is referred to as a cognitive process that results in the selection of an action that exists among multiple alternatives. However, the ethical decision making model provides a system of ensuring that the final decision is ethical. This criterion integrates ethics as a guideline for the procedure. Awareness of the obstacles and opportunities is essential. The value of the potential outcome is of primary importance for individuals. The application of this model to JD’s situation provides the best framework. A reflection on the outcome of the final choice is important.

Ethical theories are the foundation of analysis. This includes principles such as justice, utilitarianism, deontology and rights. Utilitarianism functions beyond the self-interests of the individual to emphasize on the consequences of a course of action. The impartiality of the interests of all participants is essential (Broad, 2009). The decisions maximize on the net benefits of the outcome. For JD’s case, the main parties Vendor A, his company and himself are involved. The greatest good for the greatest number is the final component. The principle based on virtue places emphasis on the qualities that individuals possess. This theory does not create criteria for evaluation of the consequences. The right action forms the focus of this approach. Rights-based ethical theory is centralized on respect of rights and liberties of individuals. Theories based on justice focus on issues such as impartiality, fairness and equity. These approaches determine the process of decision-making.

Decision-making Process

Problem Recognition

JD’s situation begins by determining if his boss’s request violates important ethical principles. If ethical principles are compromised, organizational and standard policies are also likely to be undermined. The request to provide the acquisition and pricing strategy is assessed in order to establish the principles that have been violated. Legal and professional issues associated with the situation are also considered. JB will enable the company to have an advantage over the competitors if he provides the information. An opportunity to advance his career in IT management is also available after he decides. In addition, JD is requested to acknowledge the intention to hire George. The approach by JD must consider his previous relations with George as his employer. However, the fact that he had been disadvantaged in the job market because of his poor review presents a problem for JD. He should consider the interest of the company because George has a poor performance record. His opinion should be in consideration of the guidelines on ethical conduct.

Problem Definition

A standard assessment is undertaken to evaluate JD’s case. Giving into the request of his boss is a breach of contract of employment and confidentiality. Ethical theories on justice and rights are also an essential consideration. Breach of contract refers to failure of a party, with a legal excuse to perform any obligation that is part or whole of the contract. The terms of contract are agreeable for all parties involved. Employees such as JD have a legal obligation to comply with the tenets of the contract. He will be legally liable if he braches the contract with Vendor A. The damages of the contract breach will be assessed and JD will be held responsible for the breach. This occurs despite the fact that his boss was responsible for introducing the issue. The damages may result in financial loss through lawsuits.

Failure to comply with employee confidentiality is also a highlight of JD’s case. The strategic information required by Vendor B undermines the terms of privacy for Vendor A. Crucial knowledge of organizational information are kept confidential. Employees such as JD agree to the confidentiality conditions when working for their employers. This information is subject to non-disclosure to competitors such as Vendor B. The IT Code of Ethical Conduct also defines such approaches as unethical.

Disclosing the information also results in the application of poor competitive techniques (Johnson, 2000). This is because Vendor B will take advantage of illegally acquired information to advance its competitiveness. The boss also displays a level of dishonesty that compromises the decisions of his member of staff. The code of conduct for employers obligates them to promote ethical conduct in their organizations. In addition, he should not create a situation that positions the company and staff at risk with respect to ethical issues. The lack of accountability and competence by George is also an issue of consideration for the organization. It is JD’s responsibility to caution his boss.

Alternatives and Solutions

With consideration of the situation, JD has a variety of solutions and alternative course of action. JD has the choice of providing the information to his boss. A utilitarian approach will promote the best interest of the company and increase profitability. This approach considers the best interest and happiness of the majority. However, he can also decide to retain the information in order to maintain his integrity. This virtue approach is consistent with the moral principles that are instituted among organizations. He also has the option of allowing his personal issues with George undermine his professional judgment and offer a poor review. However, with the virtue approach, he will caution his boss professionally with an approach on his performance record.

Consequences of the Available Solutions

Evaluation of the available options seeks to address the option that produces the least harm. These solutions will affect JD, his company, Vendor A and other members of society. If JD follows the instructions of his boss and provides the important information, he has a higher chance of promotion. During their meeting at an exclusive club, his boss gives him a feel of the good life. From the onset, JD had ambition to develop his career to the highest level. His career dreams have the chance of being fulfilled if he coordinates with his boss. He also has the opportunity to become an exclusive member of the club. Previous experiences in poor working conditions and unemployment had curtailed his career. However, the opportunity that his boss presents will establish him as a significant figure in his company.

Vendor B will also benefit from the information. This is because the report would have crucial details on the acquisition process of their competitor. The bidding process would be easier because of the strategic knowledge of the techniques employed by Vendor A. His company would have a lead on the tendering process. Short-term profit growth will be experienced by the firm. However, if JD is identified responsible for compromising the tender process of Vendor A, a lawsuit may be issued. This is because JD breached the privacy and confidentiality of his employee contract at Vendor A.

JD’s failure to comply with the terms and conditions to maintain confidentiality will have a negative impact on him and the organization. Lawsuits against him and his company may result in court battles that may lead to financial losses. The legal conflict may ensue over months and sometimes years in order to be resolved by the courts or arbitrators. This is time-consuming and may lead to loss of time that would otherwise be spent on increasing the productivity of the firm. Out-of-court settlements may lead to loss of finances to appease the complainants (MacIntyre, 2012). The public and clients are also influenced by the court cases and the reputation it creates. Vendor B may also have to counter the negative reputation that arise form the court process and public domain. This limits their future prospect for tenders. JD may lose his job at the expense of promoting short-term profits.

The choice of refusal give in to pressure from his boss also has consequences. His position to maintain integrity emanates from the virtue approach. This theory follows particular ideals that shape individual decision-making. Virtues refer to attitudes that enable people to pursue certain ideals such as compassion, honesty, self-control, prudence and integrity. This approach may not be supported by the boss. JD’s efforts to uphold integrity may lead job loss. In addition, the opportunities that he is assured may be lost. His promising career and nomination to the exclusive club are dependent on the information. However, he avoids a lawsuit form his former employer and competitor. The lasting effects of the lawsuit are riskier than the limited opportunity to conform to his boss (George, 2010).

If JD cautions his boss about George, he may limit his chances of joining the organization. However, he must either take a professional or personal approach. A personal approach will depict JD as a bitter individual because George is responsible for his loss of an opportunity. This may cause the boss to hire George anyway without considering the input of JD. However, a professional approach will highlight the lack of job competency by George. The boss may retract his consideration and opt for another candidate.

Choice of the Best Course of Action

The decision to be honest and avoid providing strategic information presents the best solution. In addition, a professional caution with respect to George will also save the company from poor performance. He personally risks job loss because of his choice. However, he may sue the company for unethical conduct of unemployment procedure. In addition, the company is involved in attempting to use dishonest means to increase competitiveness. JD will protect himself from the negative outcome of breach of contract and confidentiality. He may also offer suitable mechanisms to boost competition in the tender process. However, this approach does not involve the insider report.


JD completes the decision making process with the implementation of his best choice. He should approach his boss with the refusal provide the detailed report. In addition, he will also caution him on the choice to hire George. At this stage, he is aware of the possible outcomes of his decision as the boss has the final say. He will review his decision against the other alternatives. JD will evaluate the outcome of his decision and its impact on his personal and professional life. The lessons he will learn form his situation will be essential for the future.


The JD case study is a fundamental resource towards understanding ethical situations in the field of IT. Prioritizing the important factors that influence his decisions is also a significant aspect for consideration. These factors are real life examples that set the basis towards rational decision-making. The ethical theories are also applied in order to reach a conclusive solution. Ethical decision-making model makes it easier to establish a system of problem identification, verification of the ethical codes, problem definition and identification of alternatives, suitable solution, implementation and evaluation. Through, this system an informed and rational decision is reached. However, individuals must develop ethical principles that are suitable towards advancing the appropriate course of action.
















Broad, C. (2009). Five types of Ethical Theory. London: Rutledge.

Butterfield, J. (2011). Professionalism. Boston, MA: Course Technology Cengage Learning.

Eigo, F. (2000). Ethical Dilemmas in the New Millennium. Villanova, Pa: Villanova University Press.

Fryer, M. (2011). Ethics and Organizational Leadership: Developing a Normative Model. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

George, R. (2010). Business Ethics. Upper Saddle River: Pearson Prentice Hall.

Johnson, C. (2012). Organizational Ethics: A Practical Approach. Thousand Oaks, California: SAGE Publications.

MacIntyre, E. (2012). Business Law. Harlow, England: Pearson Education.

Singer, P. (2010). Ethics. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Stalcup, B. (2000). Ethics. San Diego, CA: Greenhaven Press.

Wines, W. A. (2006). Ethics, Law, and Business. Mahwah, N.J: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

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