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Case Study 5: Community Development. It is based on community member Elizabeth Dorsey, who is an engineer at CDC, Inc., which is located in a large metropolitan area. She travels from the small, rural area of Parkville where she lives. Parkville has a population of less than 5,000 people and is home to the Parkville Recreational and Wildlife Area. Elizabeth is environmentally aware and active, and serves on the Parkville Committee for Environmental Quality.
Her Company has decided to expand its operations and a new facility is needed. After surveying the immediate area around the CDC headquarters, they find the area was not suited for development. The options are few in the metropolitan area, so for that reason they are looking to expand into Parkville. They find the Parkville Recreational and Wildlife Area suits their needs. CDC makes a generous offer to the City Council stating they will only use 25% of the wildlife and recreational area; they will carefully monitor and control emissions into the air and water using “beyond state of the art” equipment. In order to preserve the remaining 75% of the wildlife area, they will continue to provide funding.
The problem in this situation is the fact that Elizabeth is involved in two organizations that have differing views and at this point she is faced with having to choose which side to take or to remain neutral. There are obvious consequences that will occur with either decision. Her best choice this early on in the situation is to wait until someone confronts her about what is taking place. This is because if she goes to either the CDC or the Committee for Environmental Quality she will appear to be aiding the other side. Both could result her either being fired or forced to leave the Committee.
A member of the CDC discovers that Elizabeth, one of the engineers, lives in Parkville which is the area where the land for the proposed building site is located. Still they are unaware of her involvement in the Parkville Committee for Environmental Quality. Instead they see her as a way to talk with the City Council. They feel she may have a larger impact on the Council’s final decision considering she is a member of Parkville. The CDC asks committee chair, Jim Bartlett, to have someone talk to her. In turn he goes to the chief engineer of Elizabeth’s unit which is David Jensen and asks him to perform the task. David is asked to inform her that they would like for her to talk with the City Council. David may or may not know of her involvement with the Environmental Committee but he has been asked by someone higher than him in the company to talk to her, therefore he should. David does not have to give his opinion on the situation to Elizabeth, although he must follow through with the orders was given from CDC. Even if he knows about her involvement in Parkville, he shouldn’t tell her that he knows unless she asks. Also the Environmental Committee is part of Elizabeth’s life outside of the CDC and David needs to only be involved with what is happening during work and inside of the CDC. It is best if her personal life is left of the conversation between David and Elizabeth. He doesn’t have the credentials and authority to bring up that type of topic.
David calls Elizabeth into his office and is unware of her involvement with the Parkville Committee for Environmental Quality. He explains to her the situation which the CDC is faced and he asks her if she knows anyone well enough in the City Council to talk to about this. Elizabeth has two obvious options here where the main difference is whether she tells the truth. She could tell David that she does not know anyone well enough to talk to, in an attempt to end the conversation, but if CDC finds out she could face consequences maybe as harsh as being fired. This is because they could have a hard time trusting her in future situations. The best option for Elizabeth in this situation is to inform David about her previous involvement with the City Council and Environmental Committee. Saying this does not guarantee she must talk with the City Council, but at least she won’t cause the CDC to lose trust.
Elizabeth informs David about her previous involvements and also tells him that she doesn’t believe she can support the motives of the CDC. It is evident that David thinks Jim is going to be very unhappy with this news. When asked what he should tell Jim, Elizabeth suggests not telling him anything and if he questions that answer to just tell him she won’t be able to help. David is in a situation where the most important thing is to follow the orders of his boss and make sure that he relays the correct information. The fact that Elizabeth is one of his fellow employees does not mean he should comprise the company for her sake. Also David should realize that he has power over Elizabeth in the company and he should resist from letting her convince him to take the wrong actions.
When David returns to tell Jim about his conversation with Elizabeth her tells him that she will not be much help in talking with the City Council. This is not a lie because it is exactly what Elizabeth had said whether she believes she can talk with them or not. Jim responds by telling David he heard from a friend in Parkville that Elizabeth is on the citizen’s committee which put a halt to development on the piece of land the past year. Jim continues to explain he believes she will not be very cooperative in this situation and that David needs to tell her to “cool it”. David has two clear choices when he goes to tell her, which are to give her his opinion on the matter or just relay the information exactly how Jim stated it. The best option here is for David to keep his opinion out of it. Once again this issue is between Elizabeth and the CDC and he is only the messenger. The only way he should give his opinion is if Elizabeth asks him and if so he should tell her in a polite and respectful manner.
The next problem which Elizabeth faces is if she joins hands with the Environmental Committee should she tell them the plans of the CDC. In this case we must take into account whether Elizabeth has sworn to not release any confidential information. In any form, Elizabeth must realize that the CDC is her employer and no matter how strongly she feels for the land she shouldn’t give away their information. She should let the committee do their own research. Also if Elizabeth has any intentions on continuing working for the CDC then she should realize the consequences of her actions. Giving away confidential information could keep her from progressing within the company of even cause her to get fired. Lastly she must understand that her actions could ultimately get other employees in trouble to or make them suspicious to CDC.
Elizabeth makes the correct decision of keeping the information to herself but inevitably the Environmental committee eventually discovers the plans of CDC. Elizabeth shouldn’t volunteer that she knew about the CDC’s intentions unless they ask her. If they do ask her however she must tell them the truth. This way she is doing no harm to the CDC yet she still is being honest with the organization which she is willingly a member. The next question is whether she should participate in the effort against CDC. Her best bet is to sit this out for the respect of her company and the committee. If she helped with either side it would ultimately result in someone being offended. The committee may have a problem with her not helping the cause but they should understand that it could cost her job.
When Jim finds out that Elizabeth indirectly spoke against the CDC, he questions David. David has the right to tell Jim that Elizabeth was given the message which he had ordered. Although any decision made was by Elizabeth and not by him. David does not have to try and defend Elizabeth because he told her everything he was supposed to and he gave her all the options. Which one she picked was all her decision. If Elizabeth is held responsible, then in no way should David be punished.
Obviously a committee member or citizen would want that Elizabeth take the side against the CDC but they must understand that she shouldn’t do anything that would risk her job. The best course of action to take would be that she doesn’t help either side which in turn would not either party to known her true opinion on the matter. She been seen as acting respectful to both organizations. Also as a citizen of Parkville you must realize her job may be on the line. If you in truth want the CDC to be stopped then you should apply your own initiative. All in the, Elizabeth should not be criticized by either parties for a decision of staying out of the situation.
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