Ethical dilemma bob Hopkins was facing
The ethical dilemma, in this case, centers about the scaffold planks. Scaffold planks are generally used in the construction industry especially in high storey buildings where they are suspended between metal supports and normally used by painters and window washers. This then means that the planks need to have higher strength than the normal timber. It is noted that scaffold plank grading standards are very different from the normal standards. Bob notes that after having a conversation with Stan about an order for 3x12 Doug fir-rough-sawn timbers, his partner Mike asks if he has received any inquiries about scaffold planks. Further, there has been three more inquiries that seem coincidental to Stan’s request. A conversation with Stan confirms Bob’s assessment of the situation to be true. However, Stan tries to convince Bob that the 3x12 order will still do the job and since it will be an inch thicker than the scaffold plank strength is assured. Furthermore, Stan almost in a certain ways threatens to end Quality Lumber’s business with Bob’s company in case Bob does not wish to go through with the order. When Bob’s boss, John White addresses the situation the following day, he has already prepared an invoice with Bob’s name on it and requests him to continue with the order. John White provides other arguments for Bob to consider such as the other employees that really depend on the job and in case they lose their jobs, it would be his doing.
Stakeholders and their conflicting values in Bob’s Decision
In making his decision Bob has to consider a number of parties that will be affected by his decision. Primarily he needs to consider the safety of the end users of the planks. In this case, since the planks may be used in high storey buildings he has to take into account the safety of constructions workers, painters and window washers. Secondly, the foreman employed for the job where the planks would also be used plays a role in the way Bob makes his decision. Thirdly, Bob has to take into account Stan and his company Quality Lumber, who have been one of the best accounts their firm has been handling. He also needs to consider the lives of his coworkers and his boss John White.
Bob’s alternatives and their consequences
An option for Bob would be to neglect going ahead with the completing the order for Quality Lumber account. Consequently, such an action would mean that Quality Lumber would look for an alternative supplier and Bob would have lost one of the best accounts of business the company had. Furthermore, business in the timber industry is not that great hence such a loss would mean the loss of jobs in Bob’s company and his job would be in jeopardy. With the recession looming around, it would be hard for the individuals to get jobs especially the ones with no college degrees and having disabled family members to take care.
If Bob agrees to sell the timber, legal problems may emanate if it is discovered that he sold the timber fully knowing what the end purpose of the timber. He may criminally implicate himself and may lose his job and end up in prison. Furthermore, such an action would encourage future unethical business dealings with Quality Lumber. Additionally, his boss, may try to use him in case things go south in future business dealings to take the fall for the company since he is young and has a college degree thus can bounce back up easily.
Actions Bob should take
Bob should avoid the whole order completely. Further, to ensure that he is not held responsible for the jobs of his co-workers, he needs to resign his position in the company. As such, Bob will not be held responsible for any actions made by the company. To clear his conscience, Bob needs to use appropriate channels to ensure that authorities responsible for inspection of timber are aware of the matter.
Malone, Stewart and Brad Brown. The Scaffold Plank Incident Case. Small-Business and Entrepreneur Cases