1. What happened to the Westons? What actions and beliefs facilitated their behavior? Chris and Alison Weston were a middle class yet ambitious couple who end up being sued in federal civil court for more than a million dollars. This civil and criminal investigation ultimately led to more than a year in jail for each of them. Chris got a job in a big company and was responsible for all human resource functions and support services. Chris’s new company had huge amount of job openings and Chris was under the pressure to get qualified technical people into the company. His wife, Alison, had experience in staffing and recruitment, and was looking for fulfillment of her professional aspirations. Chris’s need for help well matched Alison’s desires. They opened up a business, “Staffing Resources” in Alison’s maiden name and got business from Chris’s company. While Alison had to do minimal research and find candidates to provide to the needs of Chris’s company, they were invoicing the company for more work than was actually being done. They believed they deserved the extra remuneration considering all the sacrifices Chris had given for the job and also looking at the low ethical standards maintained by the company. I believe that Alison’s desire to have a professional career and Chris’s wish to not let her sacrifice her wishes started the entire issue. Chris’s belief that his position gave him enough control and authority to do what he was doing and his belief that he would be able to control the circumstances if anything comes up also boosted Weston’s confidence to initiate and continue their practices. Chris’s belief that he deserved to get more for all the sacrifices his family had made for his work also led to his specific behavior. The Weston’s belief that their behavior was minor compared to unethical activities of breaking a lot of state and federal employment and safety regulations also facilitated their behavior. In conclusion, their minor, seemingly insignificant, acts and not identifying them at the right time led to all that the Westons had to go through.
2. Choose any three concepts covered in the required readings (#1 & #2 above), and for each of the three concepts, provide one illustrative example from the Weston case. Advantageous Comparison- The Westons kept comparing their unethical behavior to the immoral standards of employment and safety regulations maintained by the company. Moral judgments of conduct can be influenced by structuring what the conduct is compared against. This faulty comparison made them believe that their behavior was acceptable. His improper behavior didn’t seem that bad to him on comparison. This can be even described as illusion of superiority since they thought of themselves as more ethical than the company.
Illusion of Control- Chris always thought that his position gave him enough authority that he was free to do whatever he wanted since the company was based on free-market ideology. This also enhanced their belief that what they were doing was justified. Also, Chris believed that he had control over any circumstances that would come up which made him feel protected. He overestimated the control he had which led to the negative circumstances. Distorting the Consequences- When someone pursues an activity harmful to others for personal gain, they try to disregard the consequences. Chris distorted what he was doing by believing that the money distributed to Alison’s recruiting company was a very minor part of funds of the company and that it provided some value to the company, if not equivalent to the funds taken for the work. He believed this couldn’t affect anything huge in the company.
3. In your view, what were the most difficult moments the Westons faced? Why? According to my understanding, the most difficult moments that the Westons had to face were the times after they had been sued. They had to spend the next three years in legal work with civil and criminal court. They lost their life savings, home and had no family life left. Their time in prison gave them the opportunity to think as to what went wrong and what measures should they take. Rebuilding their lives with felony records would have been very tough for the Westons. The couple made a commitment to themselves to be very transparent in everything they do, not only to others but also with themselves. They maintain practices like having accountability partners to ensure they do not return to old patterns of thinking and behaving. They learned the biggest lessons of their lives. Understanding all that happened to them without being truly aware and reforming their lives would have been very difficult for the Westons.