Utility Ethics in Organizations

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Week 1

John is a warehouse supervisor who works for a national company that
sells high-quality (and very expensive) electronics – e.g., HD
television sets, business and home computers, and business and personal
laptops. John has a high school education, and has been employed by the
company for 10 years. Recently, John was promoted to an exempt
(salaried) low-level management position; his present annual salary is
$60,000. Over the past two months, John has been stealing HD television
sets from his employer – and reselling them. To date, he has stolen
$15,000 in merchandise. When John’s wife – Jane – takes note of the
rapid growth in the family’s savings account, she asks John about the
source of the money. John’s astonished response is: “Jane! Are you kidding?
Consider the extra money as a company bonus — well, it’s sort of a
bonus anyway….Look, Jane, while I make better money than I used to, it’s
not enough compensation for all the stuff I do. This company can afford
to pay me far more than what they pay – and they choose not to. The way
I look at it, I’ve earned this extra money! It’s a well-deserved
and hard-earned bonus, Jane. You know that we can barely pay our bills.
I’m doing what is best for our family! I have to do what I think is
best for my family, even if I know it might be wrong!”

What are the utility ethics raised in this situation? Be specific!

Week 2

Suppose that a jet mechanic working for a major airline – we’ll call
the airline “AirXYZ” – finds a serious instrument wiring problem while
inspecting one of the airline’s newest jets. The mechanic alerts
management that the wiring problem is serious enough that it would cause
the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to ground the entire fleet of

Discuss the ethics of this situation in the context
of utility ethics. What are the benefits and the costs to AirXYZ in
choosing to notify the FAA and in opting to voluntarily ground its fleet
of planes?


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