Anonymous Industrial Engineering Ethics Cases 201
ago. After an investigation was conducted, it turned out he changed the
student evaluation data before turning them in! He was put on probation
for a while, but is now back in department good graces.
L
OOKING BACK, WHAT WOULD YOU HAVE DONE
DIFFERENTLY
?
If I had known that I would eventually become a full-time teacher,
I would have gotten my PhD after my MS. I’m too old to do this now.
WHAT ARE YOU DOING NOW?
I continue to teach in an underpaid system and enjoy working with my
students. Recently, they competed in an international competition with
300 other groups of students. Our project made it to the finalist level of
30 projects.
CASE 10: ELECTRICAL ENGINEER
Ethics Dilemma Scorecard
Public Safety & Welfare
Data Integrity & Representation
Trade Secrets & Industrial Espionage
Gift Giving & Bribery
Principle of Informed Consent
Conflict of Interest
Accountability to Clients & Customers
Fair Treatment
TELL US YOUR STORY
I applied for two jobs, and was offered both. On the surface, I did not
think of the two companies as competitors. But during my first week at the
job I accepted, I was one of several people called to a special meeting on
what to do about one of our other products, which was not directly related
to my new job. While this product, being a “first, had originally held the
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202 Engineering Ethics: An Industrial Perspective
majority of market share, it had recently suffered from lack of innovation.
Another company, coincidentally the other company offering me a job, had
come along and improved a key feature of the product. The source of the
technical improvement was unknown to everyone in the room except me.
Because I had been offered the job of taking over development of this prod-
uct line at the competing company, I knew the source of the improvement.
It was strange hearing people speculate as to how the other company
had managed to “one-up” us, especially because we were trying to play
catch up on the improvement, but our version of the improvement was not
working. I did not volunteer the source of the competitive improvement,
but immediately after the meeting walked into the Vice President of
Engineering’s office. I let him know that I had been offered a job by the
competitive company, and knew their trade secret. Although I had never
signed a nondisclosure agreement with the competitive company, I did not
believe I could ethically divulge their trade secret. The Vice President
agreed. During the 2 years I worked at my job, no one ever pressured me
to divulge the trade secret. My company was never able to recapture lost
market share of this product.
WHY DID YOUR COMPANY DO THE RIGHT THING?
I have no idea. Thinking back on the situation, I am surprised, first of
all, that I immediately told the VP, and, second of all, that he agreed with
me! However, this company was a wholly owned subsidiary of a very large
public company, so perhaps it was the company culture to do the right
thing when confronted with an ethical dilemma.
WHAT ARE YOU DOING NOW?
I’ve moved on to other work, but this was probably the most ethical
company for which I ever worked. But I didn’t realize this until years later.
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