Project 3: Culture, Climate, and Ethical Decisions
Before we begin with Project 3, think back on your challenges and achievements in this course so far.
Now that you have reflected on your progress in this course, begin your work on Project 3 by reading the scenario below. Then proceed to Step 1.
The day after you hand in your situation audit, you notice the following headline in the business section of the newspaper: Employees Accused of Stealing from Company. Apparently, a group of employees who worked for a company similar to yours was routinely lying on their expense reports, claiming—and getting reimbursed for—personal expenditures, including Caribbean trips and four-star restaurants.
You nearly spit out your coffee when you read this. You work in the same sector! After completing your situation audit, you feel like you have a good grasp on the mission and values of your company, and you’d be very surprised if such behavior were tolerated. However, this article still makes you wonder about your industry as whole.
Once you get to your office, you discover that you aren’t the only one interested in this story; everyone is buzzing about it. You soon receive a message from the COO’s assistant stating that the COO, Kate Lindsay, wants to see you this afternoon. Why does Kate want to see you?
As you sit down in Kate’s office, Kate lives up to her reputation for being focused and direct and immediately launches into what she has to say. “You must have heard about the expense report scandal at our competitor’s organization. We need to ensure that the same thing is not happening here.” She continues, “I came to this organization because I considered it to be among the best—are we?” She begins reciting a list of questions: “How can we be sure what we believe and say matches what we actually do? How can we be sure we don’t have a culture and climate that are viewed as unethical and unhealthy? Do we put enough emphasis on ethical and caring behavior in our decisions and our actions?”
She pauses before going on. “I’m new to this position and to this sector in general. I’m clearly responsible and accountable for the climate, culture, and ethical behavior in this organization. We need to be concerned about these issues, and I need your help figuring out where we stand and what, if anything, we should be doing differently.” Your help? What does she need? You look at her expectantly.
She answers your implied question, “I read your organizational analysis last night, and given your impressive work on that, think you could handle this particular task. I’m an engineer by training and I’m methodical, thorough, and detailed,” Kate says. “This report needs to reflect my—and, more importantly, this organization’s—careful and thoughtful approach to these issues. So even though organizational culture, climate, and ethics may seem like soft issues, I expect strong critical thinking and an evidence-based report. I don’t just want opinions. It might help to imagine yourself as an independent consultant we are counting on for both expertise and objectivity.”
She glances at her phone. “I have a meeting in two minutes.” She stands up. “I really need your best thinking and good advice on this in three weeks. Talk to my assistant about making an appointment to see me then, and have a 15-minute PowerPoint presentation ready along with a brief memo summarizing your points,” she says. “Also, I trust you understand this is a matter that needs to be kept between us.” She looks at you squarely. “I don’t want to learn my questions and concerns have become the subject of general discussions in the office.”
“Absolutely!” you say as Kate heads out of her office. “Oh,” she says, turning around, “and I want to see some of your work in progress as you do this project. Talk to my assistant about that as well.”
You return to your desk thrilled that the COO has shared her concerns and asked you for your input. You have so many ideas and lots of questions—but you also realize you are going to need to proceed without all the information you would ideally have. You know you will need to rely only on publicly available information and not poke around in confidential work files or ask others in your office for input or advice.
How will you tackle this project? What evidence will you use to inform your understanding and strengthen your analysis? What will you tell Kate when you meet with her?
When you submit your project, your work will be evaluated using the competencies listed below. You can use the list below to self-check your work before submission.
• 1.3: Provide sufficient, correctly cited support that substantiates the writer’s ideas.
• 1.6: Follow conventions of Standard Written English.
• 2.1: Identify and clearly explain the issue, question, or problem under critical consideration.
• 2.2: Locate and access sufficient information to investigate the issue or problem.
• 2.3: Evaluate the information in a logical and organized manner to determine its value and relevance to the problem.
• 2.4: Consider and analyze information in context to the issue or problem.
• 2.5: Develop well-reasoned ideas, conclusions or decisions, checking them against relevant criteria and benchmarks.
• 5.1: Develop constructive resolutions for ethical dilemmas based on application of ethical theories, principles and models.
• 9.3: Apply the principles of employment law for ethical practices and risk mitigation.
Step 1: Organize Your Work
First, review the following resources:
• description of the final deliverable
• instructions on how to create a narrated PowerPoint presentation
• remaining steps to completion for this project
After you have a good idea of the scope of work for this project, consider how you will approach an analysis of your own organization:
• First, review these brief guidelines about conducting research on your organization.
• Discuss with your instructor any limiting factors you may encounter as you write this report. After you’ve discussed these issues with your instructor, if you believe it’s best for you to research an organization other than your own, please read the guidelines about using an outside organization.
As you plan to complete this project, consider the following aspects of the work:
• the information you need
• how to get that information
• allocating appropriate time to each step
• other project management factors that may seem relevant
Keep the final deliverable (see link above) in mind as you complete the project. After you have organized your work, proceed to Step 2, collect and analyze resources for your presentation.
Step 2: Collect and Analyze Resources
Before beginning your research in business and management journals, there are some preliminary readings you should complete to help you develop a broad understanding of the key theories, concepts, and ideas that are relevant for this project:
• organizational culture
• organizational climate
• business ethics
As you read about each of the key concepts for this project—organizational culture, organizational climate, and organizational ethics—think about the implications for industries and organizations like yours and for their leaders. Jot down ideas and questions you will need to research further to develop the expertise required to successfully complete this project. As previously suggested readings on ethics have highlighted, ethics includes many human resource focus areas: discrimination, hiring, promoting, diversity, and enforcement of a variety of federal statutes.
When researching for your presentation, recall what you learned about good graduate-level research practices in PRO 600 and prior coursework. Be sure to consult with your professor if you have questions about the strategy and process you plan on using to find good resources for this project.
Once you have completed your reading and library research for this project, apply what you have learned to your organization, looking for these useful resources:
• any publicly available policies and procedures that provide helpful insights into how ethical conduct and desired organizational behaviors are managed
• any nonconfidential sources where your CEO or other leaders may have written or spoken about these topics
Next, proceed to Step 3, where you will conduct independent research.
Step 3: Conduct Independent Research
As you did for the situation audit, adopt the perspective of an outside consultant when working on this report. This will increase your objectivity as you examine your own company. The COO, Kate Lindsay, needs absolute objectivity with this subject. Complete the following tasks:
• Independently research (as a consultant would) the concepts of organizational culture, climate, and ethics.
• Determine the consequences of organizational culture, climate, and ethics to your organization’s operations. Would legal measures (employment laws) need to be used to reshape the culture, climate, or ethics of the organization? If so, what impact would that have on the workforce?
When you have completed this step, proceed to Step 4 to create an annotated resource list.
Step 4: Create an Annotated Resource List
Next, create an annotated resource list of four key articles or sources dealing with culture, climate, and ethics that will be used in your memo and presentation. Consult creating an annotated bibliography for help. One of the four annotated resources can deal with the impact of employment laws on organizational culture, climate, and ethics.
Keep in mind that the quality of the resources matters in determining the quality of the memo and the quality of the presentation. A well-researched study or article by an acknowledged authority published in a peer-reviewed academic journal is considered primary research. The use of primary research is preferred over using an interpretation of the same academic content that is published in a newspaper column or summarized in a magazine, trade journal, or internet source—even where such secondary sources contain quotes from the original author’s work or attribute their interpretation to that material.
When you have completed Step 4, submit your annotated resources list in the dropbox located in the last step of this project for review and feedback. The annotated resource list is considered with the other graded deliverables in determining the overall grade for Project 3. Then proceed to Step 5 to present your final narrated presentation and final memo.