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The Complexity of Ethical Dilemmas

While each ethical dilemma is unique, the underlying causes of ethical dilemmas can be individual, institutional, situational, or a combination of the three. Leaders in governmental and nonprofit institutions often confront these difficult, sometimes unavoidable, ethical dilemmas. Because leaders are expected to obey the law, serve the public interest, and take individual responsibility for both avoiding and succumbing to ethical pitfalls, they are expected to effectively address ethical dilemmas. Leaders must also be aware of persistent obstacles to ethical conduct facing the individuals and institutions that they lead. Effectively addressing ethical dilemmas and their causes requires careful analysis and thoughtful intervention by ethical leaders.

Pay close attention to the ethical problems portrayed in the following case studies: “A Sign of the Times,” “Real or Perceived?” and “The Contract.”

Select one of the case studies and assess whether the ethical dilemma was caused by an individual, an organization, a situation, or a combination of the three.

Then consider how the ethical problem might have been avoided or mitigated with ethical leadership.

Submit 150 – 500 word response: Due by Thursday 10/22/15. Explain how individual, institutional, or situational causes—or a combination of the three—led to the dilemma. Justify your response with references to the Learning Resources. Finally, describe two ways that this dilemma could have been avoided or mitigated by an ethical leader.


Think about when you have faced a difficult ethical dilemma in your own life. Explain how and why you made the choice that you did. Having the benefit of hindsight, would you make the same choice today? (1 page)


Support your work with specific citations from the Learning Resources. You are allowed to draw from additional sources to support your explanation, but you must cite using APA standards. All quoted material must be identified, cited, and referenced per APA standards.


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Category: Sample Questions