The Small Business Institute Consulting Team's: Ethical Dilemma

David Lynn Hoffman, Nina Radojevich-Kelley, Elizabeth McVicker, Debora Gilliard, Judson Faurer


Professor Hucklebee did not know how to respond when his SBI® consulting team informed him that their client admitted to cheating on his Federal and state income taxes. The client specifically said “I cheat on my taxes.” The semester long class was scheduled to end the following day with the team’s final public presentation. The team presentation was a large portion of each student’s overall grade. Up to this point, all other requirements for the course were complete, including the written report.

All students were required to do an oral presentation because the professor believed that it met Bloom’s highest level of learning- defense of one’s recommendations. Answering questions from other faculty members, other students, and outside members in the public make the presentation and defense more realistic.

If the Professor excuses one or more team members from the presentation requirement, he would violate other students’ distributive justice – that all students be treated equally. If he forces the consulting team to present, he might violate individual moral codes. If the students tell the truth about their client in public are there any liability issues? What should the professor do?

This case could be used in any class that covers ethics by first asking which groups cheat more on their taxes: young versus old, poor versus rich, or men versus women. The discussion can then evolve into small business ethics and the impact of cheating on the value of any small business.

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 Metropolitan State University of Denver