This article explores the challenges facing an individual when they are faced with a situation in which their personal beliefs and values are in conflict with organizational goals or actions.

Getting Started

Appropriate Subject Area(s):

Business studies, man in society, ethics, careers,

Key Questions to Explore:

  • What constitutes a conflict?
  • What factors should be considered when choosing a course of action?

New Terminology:

Civil disobedience

Materials Needed:

Copies of the article for the students

Study and Discussion Activity

Introduction to lesson and task:

There are times when we find ourselves in a moral dilemma in which our personal values and beliefs are challenged by some external situation and we must decide how we are going to respond. In order to make a good decision there are a number of factors that we should take into consideration. Failing to do so can result in a “knee-jerk” reaction that we come to regret. In the process of analyzing the situation we often consider such things as the seriousness of the conflict, whether my “gut feeling” tells me I should act and the consequences on myself and others if I act or fail to act. How we choose to respond in these situations goes a long way in determining our sense of personal pride and contentment. This lesson will use the article to have the students consider this issue and some of the factors that people take into consideration when making their decisions.

Action (lesson plan and task):

  • Begin the lesson by asking the students to identify some of the things they would consider when deciding whether or not they would sign on to work for a specific organization.
  • Compile a list of their ideas and determine if there are any ethical or organizational compatibility topics mentioned.
  • Ask them to outline what they think their role is as an employee of an organization regardless of the position they hold.
  • Record their responses.
  • Indicate that the structure of the lesson will involve examining the situation of a moral conflict from different perspectives.
  • Divide the class into four groups and assign one of the following roles to each group:
    • A young, single person just starting out in his/her career.
    • A young married person, who along with their spouse has a mortgage and is hoping to start a family.
    • A middle aged, married person who is close to paying off their mortgage and has two children in university.
    • A person in their late 50’s or early 60’s who has worked for the company for years and is three years from retirement.
  • Using the opening discussions as background, indicate that the issue they are to consider involves a situation in which their personal values and beliefs are being challenged by a corporate decision or action.
  • They are to determine the nature of the conflict and then discuss and outline what they believe their character would choose to do.

Consolidation of Learning:

  • Have each of the groups report their scenario and explain and defend, if necessary, their chosen course of action.
Success and Additional Learning

Success Criteria:

  • The students will be able to outline some of the factors that should be taken into consideration when faced with a moral dilemma and recognize that different circumstances may alter a chosen course of action.

Confirming Activity:

  • As a concluding and reinforcing activity, ask the students to outline any such situations they have found themselves in, what they did about it and how they felt afterward.