Discussion Question 9 – Decision Making
By 11:59 p.m. Eastern on due date, post your initial response to this week’s question. By 11:59 p.m. Eastern within 2 days of due date, reply to 1-2 classmates.
Bauer and Erdogan Decision Making Model.jpg
This week’s discussion questions are based on the following case from Bauer and Erdogan.
Herb’s Concoction (and Martha’s Dilemma): The Case of the Deadly Fertilizer
Martha Wang worked in the Consumer Affairs Department of a company called Herb’s Garden Products. Martha was a relatively new employee and had only worked there 6 months, while most employees at Herb’s had been with the company since its beginning back in 1958. She enjoyed her job and hoped to be promoted at her next performance appraisal. One especially exciting part of working at Herb’s was that they had made a public commitment to protecting the environment. There were regular meetings at work about the choice to brand the organization in this way, sell their products at “green” markets, and capture some of the growing consumer market for natural products. Martha’s values were closely aligned with this mentality, so she really loved her new job at Herb’s Garden Products. How quickly things change.
One day, Martha received a call from a dissatisfied customer who complained that Herb’s Special Fertilizer Mix killed her dog, an expensive and beloved toy poodle. Martha knew that the fertilizer was made mostly of fish byproducts and chicken manure, but she had also heard there was a “secret ingredient” that had only been revealed to long-time employees. The company had advertised the product as “safe enough to eat for breakfast” and “able to work wonders on any plant.” However, Martha had used the product only once herself. Shortly after applying the fertilizer, Martha found several dead birds near the garden where she had spread the most fertilizer. At the time, she convinced herself this was just a coincidence. Listening now to this customer describing the death of her small dog after lying on the soil near the fertilizer, Martha began to wonder if those birds had perished for the same reason. Martha took the customer’s name and number and went immediately to her boss.
Martha’s boss was Herb’s nephew, Mac. Once Martha explained her story about her own experience with the fertilizer and the customer’s claim that it killed her dog, Mac began to smile. “Some people will complain about the littlest things,” Mac said. Martha protested that it was her job as a consumer affairs officer to address the serious concerns of this customer and follow company procedure to ensure the safety of future customers and their pets. Mac laughed and said, “You really believe that something is wrong with our product? We’ve been selling this fertilizer for 35 years. People love it! Now and again someone whines about finding dead animals, but that’s just their imagination. After all, we use all-natural ingredients!” Martha thanked Mac for his help and slowly headed back toward her cubicle. She felt extremely confused and torn about her role at this point. What should she tell the customer when she called her back? Was the fertilizer safe? Should she worry about working in a place with potentially dangerous products? What about quality issues for the company’s products in general? Were Herb’s other products unsafe or of poor quality? What might be the environmental impact of this product as it runs off into lakes and streams? As her head began to spin with the difficulty of the task ahead of her, the phone suddenly rang. It was Herb himself, the owner and founder of the company. “Martha,” the voice on the other line whispered, “Herb’s Special Fertilizer is our best seller! Don’t let us down.” Mac, Herb’s nephew, was Martha’s boss. Mac began to smile after Martha told him about her own experience with the fertilizer and the customer’s claim that it killed her dog. “Some people will complain about the most insignificant things,” Mac observed. Martha objected, claiming that it was her job as a consumer affairs officer to address this customer’s serious concerns and follow company policy to ensure the safety of future customers and their pets. “You really think there’s something wrong with our product?” Mac laughed. This fertilizer has been sold by us for 35 years. It’s very popular! Every now and then, someone complains about finding dead animals, but it’s all in their head. After all, we only use organic ingredients!” Martha thanked Mac for his assistance and returned to her cubicle slowly. At this point, she was extremely perplexed and conflicted about her role. What should she say to the customer when she calls back? Was the fertilizer safe to use? Should she be concerned about working in an environment with potentially hazardous products? What about the overall quality of the company’s products? Herb’s other products were they unsafe or of poor quality? What might this product’s environmental impact be as it runs off into lakes and streams? The phone rang just as her mind began to spin from the enormity of the task ahead of her. Herb, the company’s owner and founder, was present. “Martha,” the other end of the line said quietly, “Herb’s Special Fertilizer is our best seller!” Please don’t let us down.”
Write or record a post answering the following questions.
What kind of decision does Martha face? What are some of her decision-making challenges?
What recommendations do you have for a company facing this situation? What should they do to deal with this customer complaint? From the perspective of the management at Herb’s Garden Products, what are some next steps that could be taken?
Is this an ethical dilemma? Why or why not?
How would you resolve this situation if you were in Martha’s position?
Your initial post should be at least 200-300 words (but no more than 400 words) long and should respond to the professor’s weekly question(s). If you choose to use a video post, your initial video should be 2-3 minutes long.
Your discussion posts are graded on six criteria:
Responsiveness – Is each question answered completely?
Quality – Is the response written clearly and in academic English?
Length – Is the initial response at least 200-300 words (but no more than 400 words) long?
Citations – Is the post free of plagiarism? Does the response properly use references in APA format when appropriate?
Evidence – Are ideas supported by outside sources or clear examples from your personal or professional experience? Are any sources you use reliable?
Timeliness – Is it posted by the deadline?