Professional Issues, Ethics and Practice

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Professional Issues, Ethics and Practice


Globalization is the key reason for the implementation of sophistication in information systems and communication technologies. The use of ICTs in multinational companies has been increasing and so have the ethical dilemmas associated with decision making. In the given case scenario, the project manager is facing an ethical dilemma. The deadlock arises from the project manager’s proposed model for a revised information system. The initial estimates of the project manager regarding the costs involved in the project reflect that the costs will be quadrupled. Thus the manager is hesitant to communicate the details of the project cost to the sponsors because the sponsor can reject the proposal (Carrol & Buchholtz, 2014). However, the manager thinks that the project will facilitate additional returns despite the cost involved. The prime outcomes of project failure include the cancellation of the project manager’s appointment as well as the jobs of many IT professionals (Banks, 2012). Hence the project manager takes a risk by putting off the project cost notifications to the project sponsor for a later time. In this report, the ethical implications of the given case scenario as well as feasible ethical practice recommendations have been provided and discussed in brief.

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Ethical implications of the case:

Generally, organizations operate according to a corporate culture that promotes it along the hierarchy of the global market. The given case study highlights the ethical dilemma faced by a project manager during decision-making for the implementation of a project involving the design of a high-profile information system (Enteral, 2012). The concept of ethical dilemma has been widely reported in the media as various organizations are facing issues arising from ethical violations. The pressing issue in the given scenario is compliance with ethical practices by the employee. The decision of the manager to carry on with the project without notifying the sponsor about the higher costs of the project is the major determinant of ethical outcomes in this scenario. If the project fails to achieve the desired results, then the manager would be accountable for an explanation (Hawley, 2014). Even if the project is executed as desired by the project manager and the sponsors get to know about the project costs, then it may demean the reputation of the company as well as the manager. The major issue with the implementation of ethical practices in decision-making is the limitation of expression. The manager is under the fear of losing his job as well as jeopardizing the jobs of other IT professionals involved in the project. Hence he chooses to hide the humongous costs i.e. four times, of the project from the project sponsor. Alternatively, the manager must have strong faith in his project design for which he believes that the project will benefit the organization (Heinly et al., 2015). This motive might be one of the reasons why the manager violates ethics. If the decision of the manager to hide the project costs from the project sponsor will help the organization in gaining substantial profits then the project sponsor might be pleased with the outcomes rather than brooding over the initial project expenses (Lippa, Lange & Axelrod, 2015). The situation of the manager can be analyzed through distinct theories of ethical practices and the approaches involved in them. This report will deal with the description of some ethical analysis frameworks and their implications concerning the given scenario.

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Generic representation of the given scenario:

Organizations all over the world are consistently directing investments toward ICT systems to improve communication and effectiveness. The new systems are ideal replacements for redundant manual processes that involve manual intervention. Manual processes tended to be slow and superfluous waste of human resources. Automation offers a new perspective to an industry in the form of technical assistance for daily activities which are carried out on a recurrent basis in a general format (Lubinski & Hudson, 2012). Thus careful planning is required for accurate decision making to implement a new ICT system. The facets of an organization that are ambiguous and have a dominant effect on ethical practices include human rights, use of power, and employment conditions. The common ethical flaw noticed in the majority of organizations nowadays is the trade-off between profits and individual autonomy in an organization. An organization is comprised of several people with different ideologies and diverse ideas (Miller et al., 2012). Hence a detailed study of ethical theories that can be implemented in the concerned scenario is presented in the report as follows.

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Ethical Theories:

Ethical theories serve as prolific guidelines for analyzing ethical dilemmas and help in formulating normative judgments, differentiating right from wrong. In the context of the given case scenario, a particular theory needs to be integrated with the decision-making process of the project manager. The modern perspective of ethical theories presents two distinct categories of ethical theories, namely deontological and teleological theories. While the former deals with ethics of duty, the latter is relevant to ethics of objectives. The disparities between both theories are derived from the preferences assigned to “good” and “right” in an organizational activity (Moon, 2013). The teleological approach suggests priority to objectives rather than right actions. The deontological approach contradicts the teleological approach and emphasizes the right actions in decision-making and other activities of an organization. One of the prominent examples of the teleological approach is utilitarianism. Utilitarianism helps resolve many ethical deadlocks in the information technology domain comprising systems as well as people. Utilitarian analysis comprises research on investments and benefits (Nastasi & Naser, 2014). The analysis helps to weigh the relevance between the high costs and the greater benefits for an organization. In the given case study, the approach of the project manager reflects a utilitarian approach. The organization’s benefits outweigh the legitimacy of informing project costs to the project sponsor. This notion comprises presenting a strong case for justifying the decision.

Deontological approaches contradict the teleological approach and comprise two classifications namely pluralism and duty-based ethics. The deontological approaches have been presented by Immanuel Kant and are considered highly stringent and duty-oriented. The emphasis of the Kantian ideology on morality and rational obligations to duty is a distinct indicator of its viability. The approach emphasizes the intention of the agent in executing a particular organizational activity rather than the outcome. In the context of the given case scenario, the deontological approach of ethical analysis would require the manager to inform the details of the project to the project sponsor (Lubinski & Hudson, 2012). Apart from being honest with the project sponsor, the manager also has a moral obligation to stakeholders i.e. employees of the organization. Rejection of the manager’s proposal due to high project costs can put the jobs of different IT personnel involved in the project, at risk. Hence the manager has a moral obligation to protect the interests of employees which can create ambiguity regarding the theory to be applied to the scenario described in the case study (Lippa, Lange & Axelrod, 2015).

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Informed consent:

Another predominant ethical principle in the given case scenario is “informed consent”. Consent implies the agreement of an individual to a particular proposal. Informed consent implies consent after the acquisition of substantial information about the relevant issue. If information is withheld intentionally or due to negligence, then consent is deemed invalid. The facility of informed consent forms the basis of a greater contribution to organizational ethics (Heinly et al., 2015). However, a general framework for ethical analysis clears the doubts that are prevalent in the given case scenario. The general framework can be derived from the theories mentioned above. According to the observations in the report and indications from various academic sources, the most appropriate framework for analyzing and presenting solutions to the issue at hand is the Utilitarian approach (Lubinski & Hudson, 2012). A brief generalization of the application of utilitarianism in the given scenario has been mentioned as follows.


The project manager faces a frightening ethical dilemma regarding the implementation of a project plan for includes a sophisticated information system. The project sponsors wish the project to be completed within the limits of their budget. However, the revised estimation of the project manager shows that the costs of implementing a revised plan are four times that of the sponsor’s preferred budget. In this case, the issues that arise are threats to the jobs of the manager as well as employees, lack of informed consent, and possible disrepute for the organization (Nastasi & Naser, 2014). However, the manager is confident of the success of the proposed project plan which invokes the application of the utilitarian approach. The details of research on the project plan can provide a prediction of the potential results of implementing the project. If the execution of the project delivers adequate profits in the long run then the manager can sacrifice the ‘right’ to inform the sponsors about the project costs for the greater cause of benefit of the organization (Lippa, Lange & Axelrod, 2015). The application of ethical theories for resolving ethical deadlocks must involve a mixed approach such as the one in this case. The manager uses the utilitarian approach to safeguard the jobs of other employees in the organization, which is an example of the deontological approach. Ethics in decision-making are a flexible variant domain of research. The responsibility of managers while decision-making must be complemented by the application of ethical theories and principles in unison with one another.

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