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The good news is that there are ways to think through these kinds of com- plications that will help you communicate better. No matter what document you produce or contribute to, you need to begin by considering three sets of factors:

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• Audience-related factors. Does your audience know enough about your subject to understand a detailed discussion, or do you need to limit the scope, the amount of technical detail, or the type of graphics you use? Does your audience already have certain attitudes or expectations about your subject that you wish to reinforce or change? Will the ways in which your audience uses your document, or the physical environment in which they use it, affect how you write? Does your audience speak English well, or should you present the information in several languages? Does your audience share your cultural assumptions about such matters as the need to spell out details or how to organize the document, or do you need to adjust your writing style to match a different set of assumptions? Does your audience include people with disabilities who have needs you want to meet?

• Purpose-related factors. Before you can write, you need to determine what you want your audience to know or believe or do after having read your document. Although much technical communication is intended to help people perform tasks, such as installing a portable hard drive for a computer, many organizations large and small devote significant communication resources to branding: creating an image that helps customers distinguish the company from competitors. Most companies now employ community specialists to coordinate the organization’s day- to-day online presence and its social-media campaigns.

• Document-related factors. Does your budget limit the number of people you can enlist to help you or limit the size or shape of the document? Does your schedule limit how much information you can include in the document? Does your subject dictate what kind of document (such as a report or a blog post) you choose to write? Does the application call for a particular writing style or level of formality? (For the sake of convenience, I will use the word document throughout this book to refer to all forms of technical communication, from written documents to oral presentations and online forms, such as podcasts and wikis.)

Because all these factors interact in complicated ways, every technical document you create involves a compromise. If you are planning to make a video about installing a water heater and you want the video to be easily understood by people who speak only Spanish, you might decide to make two videos: one in English and one in Spanish.

Skills and Qualities Shared by Successful Workplace Communicators People who are good at communicating in the workplace share a number of skills and qualities. Four of them relate to the skills you have been honing in school and in college:

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Characteristics of a Technical Document

It addresses particular READERS.

Knowing who your readers are, what they understand about the subject, how well they speak English, and how they will use the document will help you determine the type of document to create.

It helps readers solve PROBLEMS.

You might produce a video that shows your company’s employees how to select their benefits, or a text document that explains the company’s social-media policy.

It reflects the organization’s GOALS and CULTURE.

Organizations produce documents that help them further their goals and that demonstrate their values and culture to the outside world.

It uses DESIGN to increase readability.

Design features such as typography, spacing, and color help make a document attractive, navigable, and understandable.

Almost every technical document that

gets the job done has six major


Clockwise from top left: (1) Colorlife/Shutterstock; (2) Palsur/Shutterstock; (4) puruan/Shutterstock; (5) Brothers Good/Shutterstock; (6) PureSolution/Shutterstock

It consists of WORDS or IMAGES or both.

Images—both static and moving—can communicate difficult concepts, instructions, descriptions of objects and processes, and large amounts of data. They can also communicate information to nonnative speakers.


No one person has all the skills, information, or time to create a large document. You will work with a variety of technical professionals inside and outside your organization to obtain the information you need.


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Measures of Excellence in Technical Documents

Clockwise from top left: (1) Visual Idiot/Shutterstock; (2) RedKoala/Shutterstock; (3) Voodoodot/Shutterstock; (4) Armita/Shutterstock; (5) Brothers Good/Shutterstock; (6) graphixmania/Shutterstock; (7) ProStockStudio/Shutterstock; (8) Ramcreativ/Shutterstock

Eight characteristics

distinguish excellent technical


HONESTY The most-important measure of excellence is honesty. Not only are dishonest documents unethical, but they can hurt readers and can result in serious legal repercussions.

CLARITY An unclear technical document can be dangerous and incur additional expenses.

ACCURACY A slight inaccuracy can confuse and annoy your readers; a major inaccuracy can be dangerous and expensive.

COMPREHENSIVENESS A comprehensive document provides readers with a complete, self-contained discussion.

ACCESSIBILITY Because few people will read a document from beginning to end, your job is to make its various parts easy to locate.

CONCISENESS You can shorten most writing by 10 to 20 percent by eliminating unnecessary phrases, choosing shorter words, and using economical grammatical forms.

PROfESSIONAL APPEARANCE If the document looks professional, readers will form a positive impression of it and of you. Your document should adhere to the format standards of your organization or your field, and it should be well designed.

CORRECTNESS A correct document adheres to the conventions of grammar, punctuation, spelling, mechanics, and usage. Incorrect writing can confuse readers, make your document inaccurate, and make you look unprofessional.


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Skills and Qualities Shared by Successful Workplace Communicators 1 9

• Ability to perform research. Successful communicators know how to perform primary research (discovering new information through experiments, observations, interviews, surveys, and calculations) and secondary research (finding existing information by reading what others have written or said). Successful communicators seek out information from people who use the products and services, not just from the manufacturers.

• Ability to analyze information. Successful communicators know how to identify the best information—most accurate, relevant, recent, and unbiased—and then figure out how it helps in understanding a problem and finding ways to solve it.

• Ability to solve problems. Successful communicators know how to break big problems into smaller ones, figure out what isn’t working, and identify and assess options for solving the problems. They know how to compare and contrast the available options to achieve the clearest, most objective understanding of the situation.

• Ability to speak and write clearly. Successful communicators know how to express themselves clearly and simply, both to audiences that know a lot about the subject and to audiences that do not. They take care to revise, edit, and proofread their documents so that the documents present accurate information, are easy to read, and make a professional impression. And they know how to produce different types of documents, from tweets to memos to presentations.

In addition to the skills just described, successful workplace communicators have seven qualities that relate to professional attitudes and work habits:

• They are honest. Successful communicators tell the truth. They don’t promise what they know they can’t deliver, and they don’t bend facts. When they make mistakes, they admit them and work harder to solve the problem.

• They are willing to learn. Successful communicators know that they don’t know everything—not about what they studied in college, what their company does, or how to write and speak. Every professional is a lifelong learner.

• They display emotional intelligence. Because technical communication usually calls for collaboration, successful communicators understand their own emotions and those of others. Because they can read people— through body language, facial expression, gestures, and words—they can work effectively in teams.

• They are generous. Successful communicators share information willingly. (Of course, they don’t share confidential information, such as trade secrets, information about new products being developed, or personal information about colleagues.)

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• They monitor the best information. Successful communicators seek out opinions from others in their organization and in their industry. They monitor the best blogs, discussion boards, and podcasts for new approaches that can spark their own ideas. They know how to use social media and can represent their organization online.

• They are self-disciplined. Successful communicators are well organized and diligent. They know, for instance, that proofreading an important document might not be fun but is always essential. They know that when a colleague asks a simple technical question, answering the question today—or tomorrow at the latest—is more helpful than answering it in a couple of weeks. They finish what they start, and they always do their best on any document, from the least important text message to the most important report.

• They can prioritize and respond quickly. Successful communicators know that the world doesn’t always conform to their own schedules. Because social media never sleep, communicators sometimes need to put their current projects aside in order to respond immediately when a stakeholder reports a problem that needs prompt action or publishes inaccurate information that can hurt the organization.

How Communication Skills and Qualities Affect Your Career Many college students believe that the most important courses they take are those in their major. Some biology majors think, for example, that if they just take that advanced course in genetic analysis, employers will con- clude that they are prepared to do more-advanced projects and therefore hire them.

Therefore, many college students are surprised to learn that what employ- ers say they are looking for in employees are the communication skills and qualities discussed in the previous section. Surveys over the past three or four decades have shown consistently that employers want people who can communicate. Look at it this way: when employers hire a biologist, they want a person who can communicate effectively about biology. When they hire a civil engineer, they want a person who can communicate about civil engineering.

A 2013 survey of 500 business executives found that almost half—44 percent—think that recent hires are weak in soft skills (including commu- nication and collaboration), whereas only 22 percent think recent hires are weak in technical skills (Adecco Staffing US, 2013). According to another 2013 survey, by the Workforce Solutions Group at St. Louis Community College, more than 60 percent of employers believe that job seekers are weak in com-

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a Process for Writing Technical Documents 1 11

munication and interpersonal skills. This figure is up 10 percentage points from 2011 (TIME, 2013).

Job Outlook 2014, a report produced by the National Association of Col- leges and Employers, found that communication skills were second only to problem-solving skills among the abilities employers seek (National Associa- tion, 2014, p. 8). On a 5-point scale, communication skills scored a 4.6, as did the ability to obtain and process information. Also scoring above 4 were the ability to plan, organize, and prioritize work (4.5); the ability to analyze quan- titative data (4.4); technical knowledge related to the job (4.2); and proficiency with computer software programs (4.1). The ability to create and/or edit writ- ten reports and the ability to sell or influence others scored a 3.6 and a 3.7, respectively. Most of these skills relate to the previous discussion about the importance of process in technical communication.

A 2014 study of more than 400 freelancer profiles conducted by the online grammar-checking service Grammarly found a direct correlation between the number of errors in a freelancer’s client service profile on the website Elance and that freelancer’s client rating (Grammarly, 2014). This pattern held across eight industries. Grammarly also found that in most skill-driven jobs, better writers tended to earn more money from clients. This was especially true in the fields of engineering and manufacturing, finance and management, legal, and sales and marketing.

You’re going to be producing and contributing to a lot of technical docu- ments, not only in this course but also throughout your career. The facts of life in the working world are simple: the better you communicate, the more valuable you are. This textbook can help you learn and practice the skills that will make you a better communicator.

A Process for Writing Technical Documents Although every technical document is unique, in most of your writing you will likely carry out the tasks described in the Focus on Process box on page 12.

This writing process consists of five steps: planning, drafting, revising, editing, and proofreading. The frustrating part of writing, however, is that these five steps are not linear. That is, you don’t plan the document, then check off a box and go on to drafting. At any step, you might double back to do more planning, drafting, or revising. Even when you think you’re almost done—when you’re proofreading—you still might think of something that would improve the planning. That means you’ll need to go back and rethink all five steps.

As you backtrack, you will have one eye on the clock, because the deadline is sneaking up on you. That’s the way it is for all writers. A technical writer stops working on a user manual because she has to get it off to the print

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• analyze your audience. Who are your readers? What are their attitudes and expectations? How will they use the document? See Ch. 4 for advice about analyzing your audience.

• analyze your purpose. After they have read the document, what do you want your readers to know or to do? See Ch. 4, p. 74, for advice about determining your purpose.

• generate ideas about your subject. Ask journalistic questions (who, what, when, where, why, and how), brainstorm, freewrite, talk with someone, or make clustering or branching diagrams.

• research additional information. See Ch. 5 for advice about researching your subject. • organize and outline your document. See Ch. 6, p. 110, for information about common

organizational patterns. • Select an application, a design, and a delivery method. See Ch. 7 for advice about

designing your document. • Devise a schedule and a budget. How much time will you need to complete each task of

the project? Will you incur expenses for travel, research, or usability testing?

• Draft effectively. Get comfortable. Start with the easiest topics, and don’t stop writing to revise.

• use templates—carefully. Check that their design is appropriate and that they help you communicate your information effectively to your readers.

• use styles. Styles are like small templates that apply to the design of elements such as headings and bullet lists. They help you present the elements of your document clearly and consistently.

look again at your draft to see if it works. Revising by yourself and with the help of others, focus on three questions:

• Has your understanding of your audience changed? • Has your understanding of your purpose changed? • Has your understanding of your subject changed?

If the answer to any of these questions is yes, what changes should you make to the content and style of your document? See the Writer’s Checklist in each chapter for information about what to look for when revising.

Check your revised draft to improve six aspects of your writing: grammar, punctuation, style, usage, diction (word choice), and mechanics (matters such as use of numbers and abbreviations). See Appendix, Part B, p. 485, for more information about these topics.

Check to make sure you have typed what you meant to type. Don’t rely on the spell-checker or the grammar-checker. They will miss some errors and flag correct words and phrases. See Appendix, Part B, p. 503, for more information about proofreading.






Focus on process Writing Technical Documents

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a look at Three Technical Documents 1 13

shop. An engineer stops working on a set of slides for a conference presenta- tion because it’s time to head for the airport.

So, when you read about how to write, remember that you are reading about a messy process that goes backward as often as it goes forward and that, most likely, ends only when you run out of time.

Later chapters will discuss how to vary this basic process in writing vari- ous applications such as proposals, reports, and descriptions. The Focus on Process boxes at the beginning of various chapters will highlight important steps in this process for each application.

Should you use the process described here? If you don’t already have a process that works for you, yes. But your goal should be to devise a process that enables you to write effective documents (that is, documents that accom- plish what you want them to) efficiently (without taking more time than necessary).

A Look at Three Technical Documents Figures 1.1, 1.2 (page 14), and 1.3 (page 15) present excerpts from technical documents. Together, they illustrate a number of the ideas about technical communication discussed in this chapter.

Figure 1.1 a Video That educates the Public about a Technical Subject Source: U.S. Department of Energy, 2012:

The video was designed to accom- modate people with disabilities: the viewer can listen to the narration or turn on the subtitles.

The document includes a text-only version that provides a complete transcript of the narration and describes the images.

This screen is from a video produced by the Department of Energy and is intended to educate the general public about the basics of solar energy. Because the document includes narration, still images, video, and animation, creating it required the efforts of many profes- sionals.

The video is meant to be easy to share on social media.

The video takes advantage of our cultural assumptions about color: red suggests heat, blue suggests cold.

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InTroDuCTIon To TeChnICal CoMMunICaTIon1 14










edit view



edit view


edit view

send save

re ce

ive receive

receive re ce


Figure 1.2 a graphic Comparing Two Communication Media Source: Williams, 2008:

One characteristic that distin- guishes technical communication from many other kinds of writing is its heavy use of graphics to clarify concepts and present data. This graphic, from a PowerPoint presen- tation, compares two technologies used for collaborative writing. The image on the left represents how a writer creates a document and then distributes it via email to others for editing. The image on the right represents how a writer creates a document in a wiki (an online writing and editing space), to which others come to view and edit the document.

The writer who created this image doesn’t need to say that a wiki is a better tool than email for editing a document. The complexity of the image on the left, compared with the simplicity of the image on the right, shows why the wiki is the better tool for this job.

The history of this graphic says something about how information flows in the digital age. The graphic was originally created by one per- son, Manny Wilson of U.S. Central Command, who shared it with a colleague at another U.S. govern- ment agency. Eventually, it made its way to another person, Anthony D. Williams, who incorporated it into a presentation he delivered at a cor- poration. From there, it went viral.

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a look at Three Technical Documents 1 15

Figure 1.3 a Corporate Blog Post Presenting a Public-Policy Viewpoint Source: Patagonia, 2013:

Patagonia, the manufacturer of outdoor clothing, hosts a blog called The Cleanest Line. In one recent post, “Fracking In Our Backyard,” the company sought to educate its readers about the controversy sur- rounding hydraulic fracturing. The post included links to many online sources about the controversy and presented the company’s perspective: “Because of fracking’s wide-ranging risks and impacts, we support each community’s right to educate itself and regulate and/or ban fracking, and we support local, state and federal government efforts to monitor and regulate fracking.”

The post generated many comments, of which the first three are presented here. Notice that the third comment ends with a swipe at the company. Blogs are a popular way for organizations to interact with their stakeholders, and even though blog posts routinely elicit negative comments, most organizations believe that the occasionally embarrassing or critical comment is a reasonable price to pay for the opportunity to gen- erate honest discussions about issues—and thereby learn what is on the minds of their stakeholders.

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For more about memos, see Ch. 9, p. 253.

1. Form small groups and study the home page of your college or university’s website. Focus on three measures of excellence in technical communication: clarity, accessibility, and professional appearance. How effectively does the home page meet each of these measures of excellence? Be prepared to share your findings with the class.

2. Locate an owner’s manual for a consumer product, such as a coffee maker, bicycle, or hair dryer. In a memo to your instructor, discuss two or three decisions the writers and designers of the manual appear to have

made to address audience-related factors, purpose- related factors, or document-related factors. For instance, if the manual is available only in English, the writers and designers presumably decided that they didn’t have the resources to create versions in other languages.

3. Using a job site such as or, locate three job ads for people in your academic major. In each ad, identify references to writing and communication skills, and then identify references to professional attitudes and work habits. Be prepared to share your findings with the class.

InTroDuCTIon To TeChnICal CoMMunICaTIon1

case 1: Using the Measures of Excellence in Evaluating a Résumé

Your technical-communication instructor is planning to invite guest speakers to deliver presentations to the class on various topics throughout the semester, and she has asked you to work with one of them to tailor his job-application presentation to the “Measures of Excellence” illustrated in this chapter. To access relevant documents and get started on your project, go to LaunchPad.


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2 A Brief Introduction to Ethics 18

Your Ethical and Legal Obligations 20 ObligatiOns tO YOur EmplOYEr 20

ObligatiOns tO thE public 21

ObligatiOns tO thE EnvirOnmEnt 22

ObligatiOns tO cOpYright hOldErs 22 ■ Guidelines: determining Fair use 23 ■ Guidelines: dealing with Copyright Questions 24 ■ ethiCs note: distinguishing Plagiarism from Acceptable Reuse of information 24

The Role of Corporate Culture in Ethical and Legal Conduct 25

Understanding Ethical and Legal Issues Related to Social Media 26 ■ Guidelines: using social Media ethically and legally 27 ■ doCuMent AnAlysis ACtivity: Presenting Guidelines for using social Media 30

Communicating Ethically Across Cultures 29 cOmmunicating with culturEs with diffErEnt Ethical bEliEfs 29

cOmmunicating in cOuntriEs with diffErEnt laws 29

ThInkIng VISUALLY: Principles for ethical Communication 31



CASE 2: the ethics of Requiring students to subsidize a Plagiarism-detection service 33 and

Understanding Ethical and Legal


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Ethical and lEgal issuEs are all around you in your work life. if you look at the website of any bike manufacturer, for example, you will see that bicyclists are always shown wearing helmets. is this because bike manufacturers care about safety? Certainly. But bike makers also care about product liability. if a company website showed cyclists without helmets, an injured cyclist might sue, claiming that the company was suggesting it is safe to ride without a helmet.

ethical and legal pitfalls lurk in the words and graphics of many kinds of formal documents. in producing a proposal, you might be tempted to exaggerate or lie about your organization’s accomplishments, pad the résumés of the project personnel, list as project personnel some workers who will not be contributing to the project, or present an unrealistically short schedule. in drafting product information, you might feel pressured to exaggerate the quality of the products shown in catalogs or manuals or to downplay their hazards. in creating graphics, you might be asked to hide a product’s weaknesses by manipulating a photo of it.

one thing is certain: there are many serious ethical and legal issues related to technical communication, and all professionals need a basic understanding of them.

a brief introduction to Ethics Ethics is the study of the principles of conduct that apply to an individual or a group. For some people, ethics is a matter of intuition—what their gut feel- ings tell them about the rightness or wrongness of an act. Others see ethics in terms of their own religion or the Golden Rule: treat others as you would like them to treat you. Ethicist Manuel G. Velasquez outlines four moral stan- dards that are useful in thinking about ethical dilemmas (2011):

• rights. This standard concerns individuals’ basic needs and welfare. Everyone agrees, for example, that people have a right to a reasonably safe workplace. When we buy a product, we have a right to expect that the information that accompanies it is honest and clear. However, not everything that is desirable is necessarily a right. For example, in some countries, high-quality health care is considered a right. That is, the government is required to provide it, regardless of whether a person can afford to pay for it. In other countries, health care is not considered a right.

• Justice. This standard concerns how the costs and benefits of an action or a policy are distributed among a group. For example, the cost of maintaining a high-speed broadband infrastructure should be borne, in part, by people who use it. However, because everyone benefits from the infrastructure, the standard of justice suggests that general funds can also be used to pay for it. Another example: justice requires that people doing the same job receive the same pay, regardless of whether they are male or female, black or white.

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A Brief Introduction to Ethics 2 19

• utility. This standard concerns the positive and negative effects that an action or a policy has, will have, or might have on others. For example, if a company is considering closing a plant, the company’s leaders should consider not only the money they would save but also the financial hardship of laid-off workers and the economic effects on the community. One tricky issue in thinking about utility is figuring out the time frame to examine. An action such as laying off employees can have one effect in the short run—improving the company’s quarterly balance sheet—and a very different effect in the long run—hurting the company’s productivity or the quality of its products.

• care. This standard concerns the relationships we have with other individuals. We owe care and consideration to all people, but we have greater responsibilities to people in our families, our workplaces, and our communities. The closer a person is to us, the greater care we owe that person. Therefore, we have greater obligations to members of our family than we do to others in our community.

Although these standards provide a vocabulary for thinking about how to resolve ethical conflicts, they are imprecise and often conflict with each other. Therefore, they cannot provide a systematic method of resolving ethi- cal conflicts. Take the case of a job opportunity in your company. You are a member of the committee that will recommend which of six applicants to hire. One of the six is a friend of yours who has been unable to secure a pro- fessional job since graduating from college two years ago. She therefore does not have as much relevant workplace experience as the other five candidates. However, she is enthusiastic about gaining experience in this particular field—and eager to start paying off her student loans.

How can the four standards help you think through the situation? Accord- ing to the rights standard, lobbying for your friend or against the other appli- cants would be wrong because all applicants have an ethical right to an eval- uation process that considers only their qualifications to do the job. Looking at the situation from the perspective of justice yields the same conclusion: it would be wrong to favor your friend. From the perspective of utility, lobbying for your friend would probably not be in the best interests of the organiza- tion, although it might be in your friend’s best interests. Only according to the care standard does lobbying for your friend seem reasonable.

As you think about this case, you have to consider a related question: should you tell the other people on the hiring committee that one of the applicants is your friend? Yes, because they have a right to know about your personal relationship so that they can better evaluate your contributions to the discussion. You might also offer to recuse yourself (that is, not participate in the discussion of this position), leaving it to the other committee members to decide whether your friendship represents a conflict of interest.

One more complication in thinking about this case: Let’s say your friend is one of the top two candidates for the job. In your committee, which is made

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up of seven members, three vote for your friend, but four vote for the other candidate, who already has a very good job. She is a young, highly skilled employee with degrees from prestigious universities. In other words, she is likely to be very successful in the working world, regardless of whether she is offered this particular job. Should the fact that your friend has yet to start her own career affect your thinking about this problem? Some people would say no: the job should be offered to the most qualified applicant. Others would say yes: society does not adequately provide for its less-fortunate members, and because your friend needs the job more and is almost as qualified as the other top applicant, she should get the offer. In other words, some people would focus on the narrow, technical question of determining the best candidate for the job, whereas others would see a much broader social question involving human rights.

Because ethical questions can be complex, ethicists have described a gen- eral set of principles that can help people organize their thinking about the role of ethics within an organizational context. These principles form a web of rights and obligations that connect an employee, an organization, and the world in which the organization is situated.

Your Ethical and legal Obligations In addition to enjoying rights, an employee assumes obligations, which can form a clear and reasonable framework for discussing the ethics of technical communication. The following discussion outlines four sets of obligations that you have as an employee: to your employer, to the public, to the environ- ment, and to copyright holders.

OBLIgATIOnS TO YOUR EMpLOYER You are hired to further your employer’s legitimate aims and to refrain from any activities that run counter to those aims. Specifically, you have five obligations:

• competence and diligence. Competence refers to your skills; you should have the training and experience to do the job adequately. Diligence simply means hard work. Unfortunately, according to a recent survey of 10,000 workers, the typical worker wastes nearly two hours of his or her eight- hour day surfing the web, socializing with co-workers, and doing other tasks unrelated to his or her job (Malachowski, 2013).

• generosity. Although generosity might sound like an unusual obligation, you are obligated to help your co-workers and stakeholders outside your organization by sharing your knowledge and expertise. What this means is that if you are asked to respond to appropriate questions or provide recommendations on some aspect of your organization’s work, you should do so. If a customer or supplier contacts you, make the time to respond helpfully.

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Your Ethical and Legal Obligations 2 21

• honesty and candor. You should not steal from your employer. Stealing includes such practices as embezzlement, “borrowing” office supplies, and padding expense accounts. Candor means truthfulness; you should report to your employer problems that might threaten the quality or safety of the organization’s product or service.

Issues of honesty and candor include what Sigma Xi, the Scientific Research Society, calls trimming, cooking, and forging (Sigma Xi, 2000, p. 11). Trimming is the smoothing of irregularities to make research data look extremely accurate and precise. Cooking is retaining only those results that fit the theory and discarding the others. And forging is inventing some or all of the data or even reporting experiments that were never performed. In carrying out research, employees must resist any pressure to report only positive findings.

• confidentiality. You should not divulge company business outside of the company. If a competitor finds out that your company is planning to introduce a new product, it might introduce its own version of that product, robbing your company of its competitive advantage. Many other kinds of privileged information—such as information on quality-control problems, personnel matters, relocation or expansion plans, and financial restructuring—also could be used against the company. A well-known confidentiality problem involves insider information: an employee who knows about a development that will increase (or decrease) the value of the company’s stock, for example, buys (or sells) the stock before the information is made public, thus unfairly—and illegally—reaping a profit (or avoiding a loss).

• loyalty. You should act in the employer’s interest, not in your own. Therefore, it is unethical to invest heavily in a competitor’s stock, because that could jeopardize your objectivity and judgment. For the same reason, it is unethical (and illegal) to accept bribes or kickbacks. It is unethical to devote considerable time to moonlighting (performing an outside job, such as private consulting), because the outside job could lead to a conflict of interest and because the heavy workload could make you less productive in your primary position. However, you do not owe your employer absolute loyalty; if your employer is acting unethically, you have an obligation to try to change that behavior—even, if necessary, by blowing the whistle.

OBLIgATIOnS TO ThE pUBLIC Every organization that offers products or provides services is obligated to treat its customers fairly. As a representative of an organization, and espe- cially as an employee communicating technical information, you will fre- quently confront ethical questions.

In general, an organization is acting ethically if its product or service is both safe and effective. The product or service must not injure or harm the consumer, and it must fulfill its promised function. However, these com-

For more about whistle-blowing, see p. 26.

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monsense principles provide little guidance in dealing with the complicated ethical problems that arise routinely.

According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (2013), more than 4,500 deaths and 14 million injuries occur each year in the United States because of consumer products—not counting automobiles and medications. Even more common, of course, are product and service failures: products or services don’t do what they are supposed to do, products are difficult to assemble or operate, they break down, or they require more expensive main- tenance than the product information indicates.

Although in some cases it is possible to blame either the company or the consumer for the injury or product failure, in many cases it is not. Today, most court rulings are based on the premise that the manufacturer knows more about its products than the consumer does and therefore has a greater responsibility to make sure the products comply with all of the manufacturer’s claims and are safe. Therefore, in designing, manufacturing, testing, and communicating about a product, the manufacturer has to make sure the product will be safe and effec- tive when used according to the instructions. However, the manufacturer is not liable when something goes wrong that it could not have foreseen or prevented.

OBLIgATIOnS TO ThE EnVIROnMEnT One of the most important lessons we have learned in recent decades is that we are polluting and depleting our limited natural resources at an unac- ceptably high rate. Our excessive use of fossil fuels not only deprives future generations of them but also causes possibly irreversible pollution problems. Everyone—government, businesses, and individuals—must work to preserve the environment to ensure the survival not only of our own species but also of the other species with which we share the planet.

But what does this have to do with you? In your daily work, you probably do not cause pollution or deplete the environment in any extraordinary way. Yet you will often know how your organization’s actions affect the environ- ment. For example, if you work for a manufacturing company, you might be aware of the environmental effects of making or using your company’s prod- ucts. Or you might help write an environmental impact statement.

As communicators, we should treat every actual or potential occurrence of environmental damage seriously. We should alert our supervisors to the situation and work with them to try to reduce the damage. The difficulty, of course, is that protecting the environment can be expensive. Clean fuels usu- ally cost more than dirty ones. Disposing of hazardous waste properly costs more (in the short run) than merely dumping it. Organizations that want to reduce costs may be tempted to cut corners on environmental protection.

OBLIgATIOnS TO COpYRIghT hOLDERS As a student, you are often reminded to avoid plagiarism. A student caught plagiarizing would likely fail the assignment or the course or even be expelled from school. A medical researcher or a reporter caught plagiariz- ing would likely be fired, or at least find it difficult to publish in the future.

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Your Ethical and Legal Obligations 2 23

But plagiarism is an ethical, not a legal, issue. Although a plagiarist might be expelled from school or be fired, he or she will not be fined or sent to prison.

By contrast, copyright is a legal issue. Copyright law is the body of law that relates to the appropriate use of a person’s intellectual property: written documents, pictures, musical compositions, and the like. Copyright literally refers to a person’s right to copy the work that he or she has created.

The most important concept in copyright law is that only the copyright holder—the person or organization that owns the work—can copy it. For instance, if you work for IBM, you can legally copy information from the IBM website and use it in other IBM documents. This reuse of information is rou- tine because it helps ensure that the information a company distributes is both consistent and accurate.

However, if you work for IBM, you cannot simply copy information that you find on the Dell website and put it in IBM publications. Unless you obtained written permission from Dell to use its intellectual property, you would be infringing on Dell’s copyright.

Why doesn’t the Dell employee who wrote the information for Dell own the copyright to that information? The answer lies in a legal concept known as work made for hire. Anything written or revised by an employee on the job is the company’s property, not the employee’s.

Although copyright gives the owner of the intellectual property some rights, it doesn’t give the owner all rights. You can place small portions of copyrighted text in your own document without getting formal permission from the copy- right holder. When you quote a few lines from an article, for example, you are taking advantage of an aspect of copyright law called fair use. Under fair-use guidelines, you have the right to use material, without getting permission, for purposes such as criticism, commentary, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, or research. Unfortunately, fair use is based on a set of general guidelines that are meant to be interpreted on a case-by-case basis. Keep in mind that you should still cite the source accurately to avoid plagiarism.

Determining Fair Use Courts consider four factors in disputes over fair use:

the purpose and character of the use, especially whether the use is for profit. Profit-making organizations are scrutinized more carefully than nonprofits.

the nature and purpose of the copyrighted work. When the information is es- sential to the public—for example, medical information—the fair-use principle is applied more liberally.

the amount and substantiality of the portion of the work used. A 200-word pas- sage would be a small portion of a book but a large portion of a 500-word brochure.

the effect of the use on the potential market for the copyrighted work. Any use of the work that is likely to hurt the author’s potential to profit from the original work would probably not be considered fair use.

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A new trend is for copyright owners to stipulate which rights they wish to retain and which they wish to give up. You might see references to Creative Commons, a not-for-profit organization that provides symbols for copyright owners to use to communicate their preferences.

Dealing with Copyright Questions Consider the following advice when using material from another source.

abide by the fair-use concept. do not rely on excessive amounts of another source’s work (unless the information is your company’s own boilerplate).

seek permission. Write to the source, stating what portion of the work you wish to use and the publication you wish to use it in. the source is likely to charge you for permission.

cite your sources accurately. Citing sources fulfills your ethical obligation and strengthens your writing by showing the reader the range of your research.

consult legal counsel if you have questions. Copyright law is complex. don’t rely on instinct or common sense.

For more about documenting your sources, see Appendix, Part A.

Ethics nOtE

DISTIngUIShIng pLAgIARISM fROM ACCEpTABLE REUSE Of InfORMATIOn Plagiarism is the act of using someone else’s words or ideas without giving credit to the origi- nal author. it doesn’t matter whether the user of the material intended to plagiarize. obvi- ously, it is plagiarism to borrow or steal graphics, video or audio media, written passages, or entire documents and then use them without attribution. Web-based sources are particularly vulnerable to plagiarism, partly because people mistakenly think that if information is on the web it is free to borrow and partly because this material is so easy to copy, paste, and reformat.

however, writers within a company often reuse one another’s information without giving credit—and that is completely ethical. For instance, companies publish press releases when they wish to publicize news. these press releases typically conclude with descriptions of the company and how to get in touch with an employee who can answer questions about the company’s products or services. these descriptions, sometimes called boilerplate, are simply copied and pasted from previous press releases. Because these descriptions are legally the intellectual property of the company, reusing them in this way is completely honest. similarly, companies often repurpose their writing. that is, they copy a description of the company from a press release and paste it into a proposal or an annual report. this reuse also is acceptable.

When you are writing a document and need a passage that you suspect someone in your organization might already have written, ask a more-experienced co-worker whether the cul- ture of your organization permits reusing someone else’s writing. if the answer is yes, check with your supervisor to see whether he or she approves of what you plan to do.

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The Role of Corporate Culture in Ethical and Legal Conduct 2 25

the role of corporate culture in Ethical and legal conduct Most employees work within organizations, such as corporations and gov- ernment agencies. We know that organizations exert a powerful influence on their employees’ actions. According to a study by the Ethics Resource Center of more than 6,500 employees in various businesses (2014), organi- zations that value ethics and build strong cultures experience fewer ethical problems than organizations with weak ethical cultures.

Companies can take specific steps to improve their ethical culture:

• The organization’s leaders can set the right tone by living up to their commitment to ethical conduct.

• Supervisors can set good examples and encourage ethical conduct.

• Peers can support those employees who act ethically.

• The organization can use informal communication to reinforce the formal policies, such as those presented in a company code of conduct.

In other words, it is not enough for an organization to issue a statement that ethical and legal behavior is important. The organization has to create a culture that values and rewards ethical and legal behavior. That culture starts at the top and extends to all employees, and it permeates the day-to-day operations of the organization.

An important element of a culture of ethical and legal conduct is a formal code of conduct. Most large corporations in the United States have one, as do almost all professional societies. (U.S. companies that are traded publicly are required to state whether they have a code of conduct—and if not, why not.) Codes of conduct vary greatly from orga- nization to organization, but most of them address such issues as the following:

• adhering to local laws and regulations, including those intended to protect the environment

• avoiding discrimination

• maintaining a safe and healthy workplace

• respecting privacy

• avoiding conflicts of interest

• protecting the company’s intellectual property

• avoiding bribery and kickbacks in working with suppliers and customers

A code of conduct focuses on behavior, including such topics as adhering to the law. Many codes of conduct are only a few paragraphs long; others are lengthy and detailed, some consisting of several volumes.

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An effective code has three major characteristics:

• it protects the public rather than members of the organization or profession. For instance, the code should condemn unsafe building practices but not advertising, which increases competition and thus lowers prices.

• it is specific and comprehensive. A code is ineffective if it merely states that people must not steal or if it does not address typical ethical offenses such as bribery in companies that do business in other countries.

• it is enforceable. A code is ineffective if it does not stipulate penalties, including dismissal from the company or expulsion from the profession.

Although many codes are too vague to be useful in determining whether a person has violated one of their principles, writing and implementing a code can be valuable because it forces an organization to clarify its own values and fosters an increased awareness of ethical issues.

If you think there is a serious ethical problem in your organization, find out what resources your organization offers to deal with it. If there are no resources, work with your supervisor to solve the problem.

What do you do if the ethical problem persists even after you have exhausted all the resources at your organization and, if appropriate, the pro- fessional organization in your field? The next step will likely involve whistle- blowing—the practice of going public with information about serious unethi- cal conduct within an organization. For example, an engineer is blowing the whistle when she tells a regulatory agency or a newspaper that quality- control tests on a company product were faked.

Ethicists such as Velasquez (2011) argue that whistle-blowing is justified if you have tried to resolve the problem through internal channels, if you have strong evidence that the problem is hurting or will hurt other parties, and if the whistle-blowing is reasonably certain to prevent or stop the wrongdo- ing. But Velasquez also points out that whistle-blowing is likely to hurt the employee, his or her family, and other parties. Whistle-blowers can be penal- ized through negative performance appraisals, transfers to undesirable loca- tions, or isolation within the company. The Ethics Resource Center reports in its 2013 survey that 21 percent of whistle-blowers experienced retaliation (2013, p. 13).

understanding Ethical and legal issues related to social media There is probably some truth to social-media consultant Peter Shankman’s comment “For the majority of us, social media is nothing more than a faster way to screw up in front of a larger number of people in a shorter amount of time” (Trillos-Decarie, 2012). User-generated content, whether it is posted to

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Understanding Ethical and Legal Issues Related to Social Media 2 27

Facebook, Twitter, Linked In, YouTube, Google Groups, Yelp, Pinterest, or any of the many other online services, presents significant new ethical and legal issues. Just as employers are trying to produce social-media policies that promote the interests of the organization without infringing on employees’ rights of free expression, all of us need to understand the basics of ethical and legal principles related to these new media.

A 2014 report by the law firm Proskauer Rose LLP, “Social Media in the Workplace Around the World 3.0,” surveyed some 150 companies from the United States and many other countries. Here are some of the survey find- ings (Proskauer Rose LLP, 2014, p. 2):

• More than 80 percent of employers have social-media policies.

• More than 40 percent of employers monitor their employees’ use of social- media sites.

• One-third of employers block employee access to social media.

• Half of the employers reported problems caused by misuse of social media by employees. Seventy percent of businesses have had to take disciplinary action against an employee for misuse of social media.

Over the next few years, organizations will revise their policies about how employees may use social media in the workplace, just as courts will clarify some of the more complicated issues related to social media and the law. For these reasons, what we now see as permissible and ethical is likely to change. Still, it is possible to identify a list of best practices that can help you use social media wisely—and legally—in your career.

Using Social Media Ethically and Legally these nine guidelines can help you use social media to your advantage in your career.

Keep your private social-media accounts separate from your company- sponsored accounts. After you leave a company, you don’t want to get into a dispute over who “owns” an account. Companies can argue, for example, that your collection of twitter followers on a company-sponsored account is in fact a customer list and therefore the company’s intellectual property. Regardless of whether you post from the workplace or at home, post only about business on your company-sponsored accounts.

read the terms of service of every service to which you post. Although you retain the copyright on original content that you post, most social-media services state that they can re-post your content wherever and whenever they want, without informing you, getting your permission, or paying you. Many employers would consider this policy unacceptable.

(continued )

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Finally, a related suggestion: avoid criticizing your employer online. Although defamation laws forbid making untrue factual statements about your employer, you are in fact permitted to criticize your employer, online or offline. The National Labor Relations Board has ruled that doing so is legal because it is protected discussion about “working conditions.” My advice:

avoid revealing unauthorized news about your own company. A company that wishes to apply for a patent has, according to the law, only one year to do so after the product or process is first mentioned or illustrated in a “printed publication.” Because courts have found that a photo on Facebook or a blog or even a tweet is equivalent to a printed publication (Bettinger, 2010), you could inadvertently start the clock ticking. even worse, some other company could use the information to apply for a patent for the product or process that your company is developing. or suppose that on your personal blog, you reveal that your company’s profits will dip in the next quarter. this information could prompt investors to sell shares of your company’s stock, thereby hurting every- one who owns shares.

avoid self-plagiarism. self-plagiarizing is the act of publishing something you have already published. if you write an article for your company newsletter and later publish it on a blog, you are violating your company’s copyright, because your newsletter article was a work made for hire and therefore the company’s intellectual property.

avoid defaming anyone. defamation is the legal term for making false state- ments of fact about a person that could harm that person. defamation includes libel (making such statements in writing, as in a blog post) and slander (making them in speech, as in a video posted online). in addition, you should not re-post libelous or slanderous content that someone else has created.

don’t live stream or quote from a speech or meeting without permission. Al- though you may describe a speech or meeting online, you may not stream video or post quotations without permission.

avoid false endorsements. the Federal trade Commission has clear rules defin- ing false advertising. the most common type of false advertising involves posting a positive review of a product or company in exchange for some compensation. Also common is endorsing your own company’s products without stating your relationship with the company (u.s. Federal trade Commission, 2009).

avoid impersonating someone else online. if that person is real (whether alive or dead), you could be violating his or her right of publicity (the right to control his or her name, image, or likeness). if that person is a fictional character, such as a character on a tv show or in a movie, you could be infringing on the copyright of whoever created that character.

avoid infringing on trademarks by using protected logos or names. don’t include copyrighted or trademarked names, slogans, or logos in your posts unless you have received permission to do so. even if the trademark owner likes your content, you probably will be asked to stop posting it. if the trade- mark owner dislikes your content, you are likely to face a more aggressive legal response.

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Communicating Ethically Across Cultures 2 29

if you’re angry, move away from the keyboard. Once you post something, you’ve lost control of it.

However, if you think your employer is acting illegally or unethically, start by investigating the company’s own resources for addressing such problems. Then, if you are still dissatisfied, consider whistle-blowing, which is dis- cussed on page 26.

communicating Ethically across cultures Every year, the United States exports more than $2.1 trillion worth of goods and services to the rest of the world (U.S. Census Bureau, 2012, p. 832). U.S. companies do not necessarily have the same ethical and legal obligations when they export as when they sell in the United States. For this reason, communicators should understand the basics of two aspects of writing for people in other countries: communicating with cultures with different ethi- cal beliefs and communicating in countries with different laws.

COMMUnICATIng WITh CULTURES WITh DIffEREnT EThICAL BELIEfS Companies face special challenges when they market their products and services to people in other countries (and to people in their home countries who come from other cultures). Companies need to decide how to deal with situations in which the target culture’s ethical beliefs clash with those of their own culture. For instance, in many countries, sexual discrimination makes it difficult for women to assume responsible positions in the work- place. If a U.S. company that sells cell phones, for example, wishes to present product information in such a country, should it reinforce this discrimina- tion by excluding women from photographs of its products? Ethicist Thomas Donaldson argues that doing so is wrong (1991). According to the principle he calls the moral minimum, companies are ethically obligated not to reinforce patterns of discrimination in product information.

However, Donaldson argues, companies are not obligated to challenge the prevailing prejudice directly. A company is not obligated, for example, to include photographs that show women performing roles they do not nor- mally perform within a particular culture, nor is it obligated to portray women wearing clothing, makeup, or jewelry that is likely to offend local standards. But there is nothing to prevent an organization from adopting a more activist stance. Organizations that actively oppose discrimination are acting admirably.

COMMUnICATIng In COUnTRIES WITh DIffEREnT LAWS When U.S. companies export goods and services to other countries, they need to adhere to those countries’ federal and regional laws. For instance, a company that wishes to export to Montreal must abide by the laws of Quebec Province and of Canada. A company that wishes to export to Germany must

02_MAR_03364_ch02_017_033.indd 29 9/30/15 11:05 AM


This excerpt is from a corporate social-media policy statement. The questions below ask you to think about how to make the policy statement clearer and more useful.

1. The “Overview” section discusses the company’s social-media policy guide- lines in terms of etiquette. In what way is “etiquette” an appropriate word to describe the policy? In what way is it inappropriate?

2. The “What Are Social Media?” section provides little useful information. What other information might it include to make the document more useful to Paragon employees?

3. The bulleted guidelines are vague. Revise any two of them to include more specific information.

Presenting Guidelines for Using Social Media


in today’s world, just about everything we do online can be traced back to us and can have an impact (for better or worse) on a company. Paragon wants to remind you that the company policies on anti-harassment, ethics, and company loyalty extend to all media. there is a certain etiquette you should abide by when you participate online. this document is not intended to be restrictive, but to provide some guidelines on proper social-networking etiquette.

What Are Social Media?

social media are the tools and content that enable people to connect online, share their interests, and engage in conversations.


these policies apply to individuals who want to participate in social-media conversations on behalf of Paragon. Please be mindful that your behavior at all times reflects on Paragon as a whole. do not write or post anything that might reflect negatively on Paragon.

• Always use your best judgment and be honest.

• Be respectful of confidential information (such as clients, financials).

• Always be professional, especially when accepting criticism.

• Participate, don’t promote. Bring value. Give to get.

• Write only about what you know.

• When in doubt, ask for help/clarification.

• Seek approval before commenting on any articles that portray Paragon negatively.

dOcumEnt analysis activity




02_MAR_03364_ch02_017_033.indd 30 9/30/15 11:05 AM

Principles for Ethical Communication The following ten principles provide a starting point

for communicating ethically in the workplace.

Abide by Copyright Laws. Get written permission when you wish to include copyrighted material in a document.

Don’t MisLead your readers. Avoid false implications about products, euphemisms, exaggerations about product specifications, and legalistic constructions.

Take advantage of your employer’s ethiCs resourCes, such as its Ethics Office. Your employer will likely have a mechanism for registering complaints anonymously.

Tell the truth. Resist pressure to lie, going over your supervisor’s head if necessary.

From left to right: (2) artizarus/Shutterstock; (3) Fejas/Shutterstock; (4, 5) Visual Idiot/Shutterstock; (6) alexandrovskyi/Shutterstock; (7) Bryan Solomon/Shutterstock; (8) Voodoodot/Shutterstock; (9) Punsayaporn/Shutterstock

Abide by your organization’s professional Code of ConduCt. Your field’s professional organization is likely to have a code that expresses ethical principles.

Cite your sourCes and your CoLLaborators accurately and graciously.

Be CLear, using tables of contents, indexes, and other accessing devices to help your readers find what they need.

Use design to highlight important ethical and legal information. Don’t bury this information or downplay it using very small type.

Avoid Language that disCriMinates against people because of their sex, religion, ethnicity, race, sexual orientation, or physical or mental abilities.

Abide by your organization’s poLiCy on soCiaL Media. If there is no written policy, check with Human Resources or your supervisor for advice.



02_MAR_03364_ch02_017_033.indd 31 9/30/15 11:05 AM


abide by the laws of Germany and of the European Union, of which it is a part. In many cases, the target region will not allow the importation of goods and services that do not conform to local laws. The hazardous-product laws of the European Union, in particular, are typically more stringent than those of the United States.

Because exporting goods to countries with different laws is such a com- plex topic, companies that export devote considerable resources to finding out what they need to do, not only in designing and manufacturing products but also in writing the product information. For a good introduction to this topic, see Lipus (2006).

WritEr’s chEcklist

Did you abide by copyright laws? (p. 31)

Did you abide by your organization’s professional code of conduct? (p. 31)

Did you abide by your organization’s policy on social media? (p. 31)

Did you take advantage of your employer’s ethics resources? (p. 31)

Did you tell the truth? (p. 31)

Did you avoid using misleading language? (p. 31)

Did you use design to highlight important ethical and legal information? (p. 31)

Were you clear? (p. 31)

Did you avoid language that discriminates? (p. 31)

Did you cite your sources and your collaborators? (p. 31)


For more about memos, see Ch. 9, p. 253.

1. It is late April, and you need a summer job. On your town’s news website, you see an ad for a potential job. The only problem is that the ad specifically mentions that the job is “a continuing, full-time position.” You know that you will be returning to college in the fall. Is it ethical for you to apply for the job without mentioning this fact? Why or why not? If you believe it is unethical to withhold that information, is there any ethical way you can apply? Be prepared to share your ideas with the class.

2. You serve on the Advisory Committee of your college’s bookstore, which is a private business that leases space on campus and donates 10 percent of its profits to student scholarships. The head of the bookstore wishes to stock Simple Study Guides, a popular series of plot summaries and character analyses of classic literary works. In similar bookstores, the sale of Simple Study Guides yields annual profits of over $10,000. Six academic departments have signed a

statement condemning the idea. Should you support the bookstore head or the academic departments? Be prepared to discuss your answer with the class.

3. Using the search term “social media policy examples,” find a corporate policy statement on employee use of social media. In a 500-word memo to your instructor, explain whether the policy statement is clear, specific, and comprehensive. Does the statement include a persuasive explanation of why the policy is necessary? Is the tone of the statement positive or negative? How would you feel if you were required to abide by this policy? If appropriate, include a copy of the policy statement (or a portion of it) so that you can refer to it in your memo.

4. TEAM ExERCISE Form small groups. Study the website of a company or other organization that has a prominent role in your community or your academic field. Find information about the organization’s commitment to ethical and legal conduct. Often, organizations present this information in sections with

02_MAR_03364_ch02_017_033.indd 32 9/30/15 11:05 AM

Case 2: The Ethics of Requiring Students To Subsidize a plagiarism-Detection Service 33


c asE 2: the Ethics of requiring students to subsidize a plagiarism-detection service

The provost of your university has sent a letter to you and other members of the Student Council proposing that the university subscribe to a plagiarism-detection service, the cost of which would be subsidized by students’ tuition. You and other council members have some serious concerns about the proposal and decide to write to the provost analyzing the ethical implications of requiring students to subsidize such a program. To read the provost’s letter and begin drafting your response, go to LaunchPad.

titles such as “information for investors,” “about the company,” or “values and principles of conduct.”

• One group member could identify the section that states the organization’s values. How effective is this section in presenting information that goes beyond general statements about the importance of ethical behavior?

• A second group member could identify the section that describes the organization’s code of conduct. Does the organization seem to take principles of ethical and legal behavior seriously? Can you get a clear idea from the description whether the organization has a specific, well-defined set of policies, procedures, and resources

available for employees who wish to discuss ethical and legal issues?

• A third group member could identify any information related to the organization’s commitment to the environment. What does the organization do, in its normal operations, to limit its carbon footprint and otherwise encourage responsible use of natural resources and limit damage to the environment?

• As a team, write a memo to your instructor presenting your findings. Attach the organization’s code to your memo.

02_MAR_03364_ch02_017_033.indd 33 9/30/15 11:05 AM

Thinking Visually: Advantages and Disadvantages of Collaboration 36

Managing Projects 37 ■ GuiDelines: Managing Your Project 37

Conducting Meetings 38 ■ TuToriAl: scheduling Meetings online

Listening effectiveLy 38 ■ GuiDelines: listening effectively 38

setting your team’s agenda 38 ■ GuiDelines: setting Your Team’s Agenda 39 ■ TuToriAl: Creating styles and Templates ■ eThiCs noTe: Pulling Your Weight on Collaborative Projects

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