The BusinessWeek article Hubris at HP and Beyond (Holtzman, 2006), describes actions by HP’s former Chairwoman, Patricia Dunn to spy of her fellow directors, employees and reporters. She justified her action by stating that she needed to find out who was leaking sensitive company information to the press. The author refers to Dunn’s actions as arrogance, but they were, by any measure, unethical conduct across several standards used to classify unethical behavior, namely personal gain, professional responsibility and legal and social responsibilities. One might assert that Dunn’s actions weren’t unethical because they weren’t conducted for personal gain, but were intended to help the company and its shareholders. However, this point is debatable. Dunn operated in a world where power struggles were common and where information helped in the quest for advantage against rivals as evidence by news leaks from her very own team. So, the issue of personal gain cannot be completely discounted. Professional responsibility, unlike personal gain, is less of a grey area for assessing Dun’s conducts. Certainly, she can claim that was her job as a senior executive to prevent information leaks that could potentially undermine the financial well being of the company. But, one should remember that “cooking the books” also helps a company’s market valuation, provided that one does not get caught. Though, certainly no company would condone this behavior. Any executive must operate within the operating principles set forth by the company. One of HP’s five main operating principles reads, "We conduct our business with uncompromising integrity. W e expect HP people to be open and honest in their dealings to earn the trust and loyalty of others. People at every level are expected to adhere to the highest standards of business ethics and must understand that anything less is unacceptable. ….”
It’s hard to imagine any scenario where spying on others adheres to this...
Bibliography: Holtzman, D. H. (2006, October 11). Hubris at HP and beyond. BusinessWeek http://www.businessweek.com/technology/content/oct2006/tc20061011_581843.htm?chan=search
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