Expired expiry date
have a free point in the statement of the problem. We do not know if the
product really has expired or it is an error in the packaging expiry date. This
uncertainty generates two different problems that they appear to have different
result in the ethic behavior analysis.
the expiry date
the expanded model of ethical judgment making, we have:
gathering and analysis :
- Utility: this theory states that the best choice in an ethical dilemma
is that which produces the maximum benefit for the greater number of
people. The key factors that they should be considered in determining the
maximum benefit are: the number of people affected and the intensity and duration
of the benefit or pleasure (or, conversely, the intensity and duration of
the pain to be avoided). So, for this case, there are not pain to be
avoided because the chips are in good conditions; the issue is resumed in
a risk management (public perception) having in the market expired
products. The management accepts to take the risk because they believe it
is under control; the situation does not produce pain to any stakeholder
(for the company, shareholders, etc could produce minor according to the management
risk analysis). So, the behavior is ethical.
- Right: this theory basically states that every individual has rights
simply by virtue of his or her existence. The right to life and the right
to the maximum possible individual liberty and human dignity are
fundamental; all other rights flow out of these most basic ones. Every
individualís rights must be recognized by others, who have a duty not to
infringe on those rights. Duties are a consequence of personal rights.
Under this theory, management people have the right to conduct their own
risk in business and again; this behavior does not represent an ethical
- Justice: this theory states that the goodness of an act, object, or
person depended on the function or goal concerned. The concept of golden
mean is essential under this theory where examining the extremes of excess
or deficiency and then seeking the compromise between the extremes. Under
this theory management have evaluated that the golden mean is the
laissez-faire action. Again, no ethical concern is present.
- Caring: this theory states that every individual has a fundamental
duty to act in a correct ethical manner. This theory belief of observation
that each personís conscience imposes absolute categorical imperative on
that person to follow those courses of action which would be acceptable as
universal principles for everyone to follow. Again, this issue it is more
related with risk management than an ethical problem.
under the four ethical theories this case does not represent an ethical issue.
the expanded model of ethical judgment making (with the definition described
above), we have:
gathering and analysis:
- Utility: Applying this theory to this case, there are a true potential
pain to be produced to people, shareholders and employees. There is a
breach of the duty of care and the duty of warn; so, the management
conduct represents an unethical behavior.
- Right: Under this theory the public have the right to be warned by a
potentially dangerous product. Again, the management conduct represents an
- Justice: the golden mean is moved to the public health and safety side
and also the management conduct represent an unethical behavior according
to this theory.
- Caring: this theory maximize the duty of care in the behavior of any
person. The management people have breached this duty of care; so, the
management conduct represents an unethical behavior.
under the four ethical theories this case represents an unethical issue and the
amount of boxes does not represent an extenuating.
PCC value chain model
The PCC value chain is very broad
and it provides to PCC of many stakeholders; some of the PCC stakeholders are:
suppliers (e.g.: electricity, natural gas, fuels, machinery, fertilizer,
telephone, internet providers), employees (e.g.: farms, warehouse, factory,
transportation), investors, retailers, customers, outsourcing companies (e.g.:
transportation people (trucks, train), warehouse, retailers), local communities
(e.g.: where the factory, warehouses, farms are located), governments
(municipal, provincial, federal).
The impact of any unethical
behaviour practiced by managers of PCC will have different impact in the PCC
business in dependence of the link in the PCC value chain that it could be
affected. All unethical behaviour related with the final product could have a
higher effect in the PCC business. The PCC value chain could be seeing as a
funnel, many inputs with a dominant output, the chips. If the output is
affected, the damage could be higher (such as plug in the funnel), but is one
of the input is affected, probably it could be easier to decrease the impact in
the PCC business. We could think in many examples showing this difference, I
will mention two cases to show the different effect in the PCC business and
- Serious event affecting
the final product: the salt supplier had made a mistake and it provides to
PCC with salt with high content of sodium sulphate. Usually, the amount of
sodium sulphate is very low, but a new salt extraction and purification
process failed; PCC used this salt to produce thousands of bags that they
will be exported to third world countries with light and permeable
regulations. Although the product is not poisonous, the sodium sulphate
can cause temporary asthma or eye irritation ; PCC managers detect the
problem, but they don't take other action that to be sure that all this
production goes to specific countries. The consequences could be
disastrous for the company and all stakeholders. Minamata Bay case in
Japan with mercury poisoning it is an example of that .
- Event affecting a
specific group of stakeholders: a PCC manager has a target to reduce cost
in transportation. He develops a feasibility study including the business
case. The directory approves the project; in the tendering process he
received four proposals from different providers but the lower cost is
twice higher than the estimated. The manager does not want to appear as
inexpert, and he starts a shopping process between the four providers.
This shopping in considered unethical (but not necessary illegal ) and
it produces that the four providers withdraw the offers and start a legal
process against PCC for breach of contract to succeed. As result, PCC
could lose a lot of money in legal process, providers and reputation in
the sector without getting a solution for the initial problem.
case does not affect the whole PCC business but a group of stakeholders.
We could see the stance spectrum
definition on page 93 of our referred book.
For the case where the problem is
only with the stamped expiry date but not with the product, the PCC manager
behaviour matches between Defensive and Accommodative Stances. This event looks
not to be an ethic problem and there is not risk to the public.
For the case where the product is
expired, PCC break regulations and does not any effort so fix social problems.
This case matches with Obstructionist stance.
My recommendations to PCC are not
black or white, the recommended baseline is Defensive stance, but in dependence
of many factors it would be increase it to Accommodative stance or Proactive
stance. These factors are based in the analysis of cost-benefit for PCC in a
global, multi-stage and multi-temporal point of view. This means to find the
optimal point of work taking into consideration all possible and
 Andrews G., Canadian Professional Engineering and
Geocience: Practice and Ethics, Thomson Nelson, 2005 398 pp.
 Wikipedia. (n.d.) Sodium sulfate. Retrieved January 23, 2010, from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sodium_sulfate
 Samuel, B. et al, Practical Law of Architecture,
Engineering, and Geoscience, Person Prentice Hall, 2007, 364 pp.