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Questions on Ethics in Technical Communication

 Ethics in Technical Communication
Ethics in Technical Communication

Three Case Studies of Ethics in Technical Communication Directions: Read all three cases, then work with your group to determine the ethical course of action to take in each scenario. Be prepared to defend your position to the rest of the class.

Case #1

You work in the document design department of a large corporation. Traditionally, your department has made it a point of pride to produce dramatic covers for the company?s annual report. One of your coworkers finds a reproduction of a famous photograph in a popular magazine and the image would be perfect for the theme of this year?s annual report with some cutting, pasting, and a few other modifications. Since the photograph is famous, since you’re going to use only part of the image, and since you’re going to modify the image in order to produce something which is essentially a new image, should you go ahead and scan it? Or do you first need to seek permission to use it? If you need permission, who do you ask: the magazine? the publishing house that sells the reproduction? the photographer who originally took the picture?

Case #2

You’ve been hired to do some desktop publishing work for a large consulting firm. The office manager bought you a new computer system to use, but the system came with a new software package that is incompatible with the old version of the software used by the rest of the office. As a result, you can?t share files with coworkers and do your job effectively. Fortunately, however, the office still has the installation disks for the old version of the software, and the office manager tells you that, since these disks were purchased by the company, you can install the old software on your system. Should you go ahead and copy the software since the office has already paid for it?

Case #3

You?re doing research on an article about usability testing. As part of your research, you join an electronic discussion group on the Internet where people doing human factors research exchange email messages about their works-in-progress. As you?re writing your article, someone posts an email message to the group describing the results of her unpublished research project. These results are central to your article?s thesis and force you to completely revise your thinking about the subject. Since these results haven?t been published elsewhere, you wish to quote the email message in your article. Can you legally and ethically quote from an email message? Indeed, are you obligated to cite the message since it had such a profound impact on your own thinking? If so, does anyone own the copyright on the message? Do you need to seek the author’s permission? Or, since the message was electronically “published” by the discussion group, do you need to have the permission of the person(s) who created and operated the discussion group or the university or company which owns the computer that hosts the group? (Note: All cases adapted from Tharon W. Howard, “Who ‘Owns’ Electronic Texts,” 1996.)

Question 2 Strategic Goals of the Organization and Standards Used For Evaluating Individual Performance

A mandatory working outline for this research must be drafted.Deliverable: Submit an analysis of the employee selection and performance appraisal methods used in your workplace or in one with which you are familiar. If you do not have a current employer you may use the provided alternative assignment. One single organization must be used for the entire paper. Thus, whatever organization you use for the hiring analysis must also be used for the evaluation analysis. You are not permitted to use two or more organizations (e.g, one company for application analysis, one government agency for interview analysis, one company for evaluation analysis, etc.). One topic organization is required and it must be used for the entire paper. Purpose: Employee selection and assessment are important responsibilities for all managers. When done poorly, significant problems can arise for managers, those they supervise, and the organization. This assignment gives you an opportunity to:

a) complete a thorough, thoughtful, and objective analysis of the process and methods used for selection and performance assessment in an organization;

b) identify strengths and areas that may need improvement; and b) make preliminary recommendations based on your analysis. Process Steps:

1. Research: Complete the assigned readings and at least two additional relevant scholarly articles you will use and cite as references in your report. Simply selecting an "academic article" in a library database does not guarantee the work has benefited from blind review by scholarly experts. You should check the credentials of the authors whose work you are citing and see whether the articles have have been cited by others. 2. Analysis and Diagnosis:

1) Identify and evaluate the dominant methods used in your workplace, or one with which you are familiar, to select people for jobs. Examine whether:

The interviews, tests, and/or other selection procedures are reliable and valid.
The methods used pose any ethical, legal, or practical issues that could present problems for managers and/or the organization.
Methods might need to be adjusted given the increasingly diverse, multicultural, and geographical dispersed workforce.
2) Identify and analyze the performance appraisal program used in your organization. Questions to guide your analysis include:

Is the program formally or informally applied? Note that even when there is no formal appraisal system decisions are made about pay, promotions, and terminations and these are generally influenced by an assessment of performance.
Are there clearly articulated and well communicated goals for the appraisal? [Note: These may be both the formally articulated goals and those you believe will be important. Offer a brief explanation of and support for each goal, relying where appropriate on insights gleaned from seminar readings.]
Is there a relationship between the strategic goals of the organization and standards used for evaluating individual performance?
Is there evidence of criterion contamination or deficiencies?
Are there measures in place to ensure reliability?
Are there any legal issues the organization might want or need to consider? Explain your reasoning. Note that all systems have the potential to introduce ethical and sometimes even legal concerns, in design and/or in implementation.
Who is involved in conducting the appraisals (supervisors, self, subordinates, peer, team, customer, all of these) and what are the pros and cons of this approach? Cite references to support your analysis and conclusions.
Does the program meet best practice standards for appraisals including training to eliminate common rating errors and ensure sound feedback methods?
Which specific method from your research into appraisal methods most closely matches the one in use in your organization and what is your support for this conclusion?
What are the relative strengths and limitations of this method and what are the practical implications for your organization and managers? Note any differences between policy and actual practice and consider why these exist. (Note: Be sure to refer to information gleaned from the work of scholarly experts when undertaking this assessment of the method you are examining.)
Does the method used limit the organization’s ability to foster diversity and operate effectively in a multicultural global marketplace? Explain and support your reasoning.
3) Conclusions and Recommendations: Based on your critical analysis, identify changes you believe might be made to improve how your organization manages employee selection and appraisal. Each recommendation must be derived from your research and analysis and must be supported by a well reasoned argument and references to the literature. If you have observed a difference between the stated organizational goals, policies, and what happens in practice you should be sure to address this in your recommendations.

4) Reflections: Reflect on lessons you take from your analysis as a current or future manager or leader in this organization or industry. Consider the implications for your need to ensure performance and commitment of all those for whom you will be responsible.

b) Your report should address the above questions and should recognize, integrate, and cite relevant theories, concepts, and ideas from the readings and your research.

In the introduction be sure to include a succinct narrative description of your organization and position. You do not need to give the specific name of your organization if you prefer to keep that confidential but you should give sufficient information (for example, the industry and nature of the business) so the context can be understood.

You need to demonstrate that you understand the point the authors are making and can apply their ideas to the unique circumstances of the workplace practices that are the subject of your paper.

Others Similar Projects are Projects managers and Ethics leadership and technology, Organization Culture and Climate, Performance Management, Discussion paper on role of International Regulation and others

Questions on Ethics in Technical Communication

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