Wednesday, September 19, 2007

A couple of story links, unrelated to upcoming assignment

For upcoming class discussions, please print or email a copy of these stories to yourselves.

Here's one to capture, while it's available at the NYTimes until next Monday:
Is 'Do Unto Others' Written into our Genes?

Two links from

About Southwest Airlines' slow response to a passenger dust-up:

Be sure to read to the end of this story, since we'll be discussing defamation of character soon:

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

How to conduct research for a case analysis

We'll talk a lot about this assignment in class next week--it will be our main topic of discussion. But until then, I thought you might want to see this a week early. Be sure to read the next entry for a link about the Apple case.

You’ll be developing a case, not from a textbook, but from information gleaned in press accounts and class discussion. As you search and read news stories, underline or highlight interesting information that you can return to on a second reading. On that second closer reading, begin to elaborate on why that information is interesting to you by making notes on a separate sheet of paper. How does this information tie into the values/principles discussed in class: freedom, stewardship, humaneness, truth and justice?

Now for some basics: construct a timeline of what happened and briefly summarize how the PR process seemed to work. Where does the case fit this idealized process? Where is the fit not right? Where are the gaps? What might be missing entirely from the activities described in the case? What do the gaps tell you about how the PR process worked (or didn’t work)? What do the gaps tells you about the values we discussed in class, and whether those values were handled in a utilitarian mode (greatest good, greatest number) or in the communitarian mode (the community’s well-being is as important as the organization’s)?

Based on class discussions from Sept. 17 and Sept. 24, you’ll write a short case analysis that is four double-spaced pages, using an academic voice (this can be in AP style). This analysis should include at least five outside sources, and you may use footnotes or in-text citations to give credit to these sources. Due date is Oct. 8.

In the first paragraph of your paper, give a short summary of the case in chronological order. Next, begin your analysis by spending a paragraph on each of the ethical values and the tension between these values in terms of communitarianism and utilitarianism. Were some of these values ignored? If there are gaps in the case narrative, what would you still need to know in order to evaluate this case more fully? Are there actions (or possible actions) that don’t fit either model?

Demonstrate your knowledge of PR terminology and strategies, and develop your knowledge of communitarian and utilitarian ethics by using the Dallas Cowboys case study as an example for your own work.

Your last paragraph should be about recommendations you would make if the organization faced the same situation again. Here, you are encouraged to expound on what went right in the case, but you should also have something to recommend for making improvements, since even the best plans may be improved. Use the language of ethics, rather than the vocabulary of economics, for this conclusion.

iPhone case study

You'll do a mini-research project to develop a case study about Apple's recent iPhone dust-up. Within this news story, there's also a link to Steve Job's letter to customers. Use this story to get started on that research, and then begin developing tentatively the communitarian/utilitarian viewpoints that are related to Apple's actions (based on class discussion from Sept. 17). You'll be asked to write a four-page paper that's due in a few weeks, after our class discussion on Sept. 24.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Some links to help our discussion

To help our conversation ...... please read the interview with Appiah, at the Washington Post.

Toyota and Nissan, and their connection to slave labor in Brazil

Read all about this at Bloomberg News, link below. This story is similar to the one last year in the NYTimes, which profiled a 6-year-old boy in Ghana, who bailed water out of a fishing boat all day, with two small meals and wearing his only clothes, a T-shirt and underwear. He had been "sold" to the boat's owner for about $35 a year by his starving family.

As we begin to talk about Appiah's Cosmopolitanism, we will be asking ourselves: What is our connection to people living and working in these horrible conditions? What is our economy's connection? In a so-called "global economy," shouldn't our consciousness of these connections increase? Don't businesses have an obligation to search throughout their entire supply chains for acceptable working conditions and ethical practices?