Ethical analysis of the issues raised in the case study

Professional IT Culture Individual Written Assignment

Topic: Business report providing an ethical analysis of a project management case study.

Learning Outcomes: This assessment task relates to the following learning outcomes:

  • Research and discuss underpinning theories of ethical philosophy and apply these in to a range of scenarios in an IT workplace environment.
  • Interpret the principles of the Australian Computer Society Code of Ethics and synthesize them into daily IT practice.
  • Utilise professional presentation and communication approaches in a range of IT workplace settings.
  • Construct written and verbal arguments in a variety of formats on the evolving nature of ethical norms relating to new technologies.
  • Value ethical decision making approaches when working as an IT professional.

Case Study

A software development company has just produced a new software package that incorporates the new tax laws and figures taxes for both individuals and small businesses.

The president of the company knows that the program has a number of bugs. He also believes the first firm to put this kind of software on the market is likely to capture the largest market share. The company widely advertises the program.

When the company actually ships a CD, it includes a disclaimer of responsibility for errors resulting from the use of the program. The company expects it will receive a number of complaints, queries, and suggestions for modification.

The company plans to use these to make changes and eventually issue updated, improved, and debugged versions. The president argues that this is general industry policy and that anyone who buys version 1.0 of a program knows this and will take proper precautions.

Because of bugs, a number of users filed incorrect tax returns and were penalised by the ATO.


Prepare a business report of about 1500 words that gives an ethical analysis of the issues raised in the case study. In particular (at least), include in the report responses to the following sub-tasks:

a) Clearly state the ethical dilemma that confronts the president of the software development company.

b) Provide an ethical response to the dilemma according to consequences alone. Consider consequences for both the software company and the customers.

c) Provide an ethical response to the dilemma according to a consistent application of principles alone. What duties does the company president have in this scenario?

d) Provide an ethical response to the dilemma according to the typical response of a caring person.

e) The ACS Code of Professional Conduct extends the meaning of the six ethical values with requirements that contribute to observing the values. Examine the code and identify requirements (using value numbers 1-6 and a requirement letter) that are relevant to this case study. Explain for each requirement identified how it should be applied in this case study.

f) Provide a defence, on ethical grounds, for the decision by the president of the company to ship the software while knowing that it contains a number of bugs;

g) Having completed your ethical analysis provide advice as to how the company president could have solved his ethical dilemma. Summarize your reasons.


The description of the six values is amplified in the ACS Code of Professional Conduct:

At least three additional resources should be used in the preparation of your report.

The structure of the business report should be as described in the source at:

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