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The CEO of an investment management firm must decide what to do about inappropriate actions by two different employees. While both employees are strong performers, their actions implicate the values underpinning the firm's culture. The case is designed to surface students' instinctive decision-making tendencies. Thus it is short enough to be read and responded to in class. Students are assigned readings and assignments related to the case after class discussion in which they are encouraged to reflect on their initial responses. The case is quite flexible and would work in any course that deals with leadership, ethics, difficult conversations, decision making, organizational behavior, human resources, crisis management, and related topics. It is appropriate for a range of levels and audiences, including undergraduate, MBA, and executive education.
The learning objectives of this case (and others used in the second-year elective "Defining Moments") focus on helping students: (1) identify their value priorities; (2) identify challenges associated with consistently and effectively enacting and defending their value priorities in work contexts; (3) skillfully conduct difficult conversations, especially those involving high stakes and intense emotions: and (4) manage crisis situations involving internal and external stakeholders in ways that demonstrate both single- and double-loop learning.