A real email to a real professor who may really kick me out of his MBA-required class

In defense of intelligent ethical analysis by Leah Archibald

This e-mail is in response to the criticism that I failed to address the ethicality of data collecting by using the Ethical Framework introduced in class. Since this criticism alone represented a loss of (roughly) 20% of my paper grade, I would be remiss if I did not endeavor to defend my own analysis.

I believe that I demonstrated in my paper, as well as in class discussion, that the Ethical Framework (as presented by Ms. McKone-Sweet, Ms. Greenberg and Ms. Moland) is an inappropriate rubric for evaluating business decisions. Indeed, I do discuss the ethicality of data collection in my paper, specifically in the introduction on page 1 by stating that data collection has always taken place as a major component of retail functioning, and that it is only the new technological methods of collection and dissemination of information that raise questions, not the collection of data itself. My discussion of the ethicality of data collection continues on pages five through eight in which I begin with the assertion that the two real forces governing business decisions are legality and profit maximization. (A very wise Babson professor recently quipped, There are no such things as business ethics, save from follow the law, and maximize profit for your shareholders. . Here we might pose the question if it is even necessary for executives to discuss matters of ethics. The necessary ethical guidelines of society are laid out clearly in the dual forces of what the law demands and what consumers will allow.) Having already extensively covered the legal issue of data collection, I go on to address the Demand side of data policy by examining actual customer concerns as determined by a Forrester pole (page six) and exploring the ethical dilemmas of each of these concerns.

While my own ethical analysis was both informed and considered, I made the careful choice not to mention the ethical frameworks because I have a strong disagreement with both their content and their inclusion in the Babson MBA curriculum. Whether your actions create a universal rule (Deontological Theories) or whether they cause more good than harm (Utilitarian Theories) or whether they make you look like a horses ass (Character Theories), shellacking feel-good philosophical theories onto business decisions is at best tenuous and at worst insulting to both business people and philosophers. What IS important to business decisions (in addition to the theory of legal behavior/profit maximization as put forth by myself in this paper) is a thorough and nuanced investigation of all issues involved (as I presented in my paper pages two through five) followed by a thorough and incisive decision on superior course of action (as I summarized in my paper on page eight.)

I invite you to challenge my analysis of my own thoroughness in examining the ethics of data collection.

Many Thanks,