A recent graduate of Engineering Tech, Bernie Reston has been employed in Research and
Development of Larom Chemical for the past several months. Bernie was recommended to Larom
as the top Engineering Tech graduate in chemical engineering.
Alex Smith, the head of Bernies unit, showed immediate interest in Bernies
research on processes using a particular catalyst (call it B). However, until last week,
his primary research assignments at Larom were in other areas.
A meeting of engineers in Bernies unit is called by Alex. He announces that the
unit must make a recommendation within the next two days on what catalyst should be used
by Larom in processing a major product. It is clear to everyone that Alex is anticipating
a brief, decisive meeting. One of the senior engineers volunteers, "Weve been
working on projects like this for years, and catalyst A seems to be the obvious
choice." Several others immediately concur. Alex looks around the room and, hearing
no further comments, says, "Well, it looks like were in accord on this. Do we
So far Bernie has said nothing. He is not sure what further testing will show, but the
testing he has been doing for the past week provides preliminary evidence that catalyst B
may actually be best for this process. This is also in line with what his research at
Engineering Tech suggested with somewhat similar processes. If catalyst B should turn out
to be preferable, a great deal of money will saved; and, in the long run, a fair amount of
time will be saved as well. Bernie wonders if he should mention his findings at this time
or simply defer to the senior engineers, who seem as determined as Alex to bring matters
What would you advise Bernie to do? Identify and discuss any ethical questions this
Bernie somewhat hesitantly raises his hand. He briefly explains his test results and
the advantages catalyst B might provide. Then he suggests that the unit might want to
delay its recommendation for another two weeks so that he can conduct further tests.
Alex replies, "We dont have two weeks. We have two days." He then asks
Bernie to write up the report, leaving out the preliminary data he has gathered about
catalyst B. He says, "It would be nice to do some more testing, but we just
dont have the time. Besides, I doubt if anything would show up in the next two weeks
to change our minds. This is one of those times we have to be decisive--and we have to look
decisive and quit beating around the bush. Theyre really getting impatient on this
one. Anyway, weve had a lot of experience in this area."
Bernie replies that, even if the data on B is left out, the data on A is hardly
conclusive. Alex replies, "Look, youre a bright guy. You can make the numbers
look good without much difficulty--do the math backwards if you have to. Just get the
report done in the next two days!"
Bernie likes working for Larom, and he feels lucky to have landed such a good job right
out of Engineering Tech. He is also due for a significant pay raise soon if he plays his
What do you think Bernie should do? Should he write up the report as Alex says? Should
he refuse to write up the report, saying he will have no part in falsifying a report? Or
is there something else he might do? Explain your choice.
Bernie decides to write up the report. When he is finished, Alex asks him to sign it.
Bernie now has second thoughts. He wonders if he should sign his name to a report that
omits his preliminary research on catalyst B and that is based, in part, on "doing
the math backwards." What options does Bernie have at this point? Which one would you
advise him to take? Explain.
After reluctantly signing the report, Bernie continues to have second thoughts about
what his unit has recommended. He now has an opportunity to do more research on catalyst
B. After several weeks his research quite decisively indicates that, contrary to the
earlier report, catalyst B really would have been, far and away, the better choice. What
should Bernie do now? Keep the data to himself and not make trouble? Tell Alex and let him
decide what, if anything, to do? Something else?