Case #1765.0

The Ethics Officer

Publication Date: June 01, 2004
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A corporate lawyer prevails in a competition with her colleagues for a coveted assignment in the legal department of Oilco, an oil refining and marketing venture based in Hong Kong with operations in Asia, Africa, and the Middle East. The new assignment fulfills her ambition to specialize in corporate compliance policy in an international setting, utilize her language skills, and satisfy her desire for travel. Only after she moves to Hong Kong and begins her work does she realize that lingering prejudice against women, tensions between the US owners and South African managers of the company, and disagreements about the applicability of US laws to a multinational operation create nightmarish obstacles to success in her job.

Learning Objective:
This disguised case offers a rich narrative for raising questions about the function of corporate ethics officers. What are an ethics officer's objectives? Who does the ethics officer work for? Why do corporations tend to believe that compliance with law is the same as acting ethically? What does a good corporate ethics program look like?

Other Details

Case Author:
Kenneth Winston
Faculty Lead:
Kenneth Winston
Pages (incl. exhibits):