Ethical Decision Making

Group Exercise: Ethical Decision Making
1. To apply the rational model of decision making.
2. To examine the ethical implications of a managerial decision.
In this chapter we learned there are four steps in the rational model of decision making. The third stage involves
evaluating alternatives and selecting a solution. Part of this evaluation entails deciding whether or not a solution is
ethical. The purpose of this exercise is to examine the steps in decision making and to consider the issue of ethical
decision making. You may want to examine Learning Module A on ethics and organizational behavior.
Break into groups of five or six people and read the following case. As a group, discuss the decision made by the
company and answer the questions for discussion at the end of the case. Before answering questions 4 and 5, however,
brainstorm alternative decisions the managers at TELECOMPROS could have made. Finally, the entire class can
reconvene and discuss the alternative solutions that were generated.
For large cellular service providers, maintaining their own customer service call center can be very expensive. Many
have found they can save money by outsourcing their customer service calls to outside companies.
TELECOMPROS is one such company. It specializes in cellular phone customer service. TELECOMPROS saves large
cellular companies money by eliminating overhead costs associated with building a call center, installing additional
telephone lines, and so forth. Once TELECOMPROS is hired by large cellular service providers, TELECOMPROS
employees are trained on the cellular service providers’ systems, policies, and procedures. TELECOMPROS’ income is
derived from charging a per hour fee for each employee.
Six months ago, TELECOMPROS acquired a contract with Cell2u, a large cellular service provider serving
the western United States. In the beginning of the contract, Cell2U was very pleased. As a call center,
TELECOMPROS has a computer system in place that monitors the number of calls the center receives and how
quickly the calls are answered. When Cell2U received its first report, the system showed that TELECOMPROS was a
very productive call center and it handled the call volume very well. A month later however, Cell2U launched a
nationwide marketing campaign. Suddenly, the call volume increased and TELECOMPROS’ customer service reps
were unable to keep up. The phone monitoring system showed that some customers were on hold for 45 minutes or
longer, and at any given time throughout the day there were as many as 50 customers on hold. It was clear to Cell2U
that the original number of customer service reps it had contracted for was not enough. It renegotiated with upper
management at TELECOMPROS and hired additional customer service reps. TELECOMPROS was pleased because it
was now receiving more money from Cell2U for the extra employees, and Cell2U was happy because the call center
volume was no longer overwhelming and its customers were happy with the attentive customer service.
Three months later though, TELECOMPROS’ customer service supervisors noticed a decrease in the number
of customer service calls. It seemed that the reps had done such a good job that Cell2U customers had fewer problems.
There were too many people and not enough calls. With little to do, some reps were playing computer games or surfing
the Internet while waiting for calls to come in.
Knowing that if Cell2U analyzed its customer service needs, it would want to decrease the reps to save
money, TELECOMPROS’ upper management made a decision. Rather than decrease its staff and lose the hourly pay
from Cell2U, the upper management told customer service supervisors to call the customer service line. Supervisors
called in and spent enough time on the phone with reps to ensure that the computer registered the call and the time it
took to “resolve” the call. Then they would hang up and call the call center again. TELECOMPROS did not have to
decrease its customer service reps, and Cell2U continued to pay for the allotted reps until the end of the contract.
Questions for Discussion
1. Was the decision made by TELECOMPROS an ethical one? Why or why not?
2. If you were a manager at TELECOMPROS, what would you have done when your manager asked you to call the
customer service line? What are the ramifications of your decision? Discuss.
3. Where did the decision-making process at TELECOMPROS break down? Explain.
4. What alternative solutions to the problem at hand can you identify? What is your recommended solution? Explain
why you selected this alternative.
5. How would you implement your preferred solution? Describe in detail.