Define the main ethical issue of the situation

Leadership is a potent combination of strategy and character.  But if you must be without one, be without strategy.”   –   Norman Schwarzkopf




The case study method is a form of stimulation aimed at providing students with an understanding of the complexities relating to specific problems faced on the job.  A case study should contain a complete description of an issue including events, people, and other impacting factors.  It represents a situation/concern to be analyzed and resolved.  Case studies should allow students to:


  • Ask (or ask themselves) questions that help extract key information from a case;
  • Diagnose the case;
  • Define the main ethical issue of the situation;
  • Make decisions and/or recommendations;
  • Formulate principles for handling future cases.


In the field of public administration, the case study method is “an action plan” for resolving community issues.  Trust in our public officials is imperative for our government to work.  Ethical issues must be recognized and dealt with using great care and understanding of the far reaching and long term effects any decision can have.  Analyzing past cases is a very effective way of preparing for these challenging situations.



Principles for Creating a Case


  • Each case should focus on a single, main


  • A case must contain all the facts, data and information necessary to arrive at a recommendation for a resolution.



Case Study Presentation

General Information and Directions


Each student will be assigned a case from the Ethics in City Hall text book.  This assignment is mandatory for passing this class.  If, for what ever reason, you do not complete this assignment in a meaningful fashion by the due date, you will be withdrawn from the class at the 60% mark of the semester.  These cases are taken from true stories gathered by the authors.  The fact scenarios are thus just like the real world.  They are sometimes a bit messy, and you will have to read the situation critically in order to identify the main ethical issue.  That can be more difficult that you may first think.  So, be sure and read your assigned case early on to make sure you have a grasp of what the main ethical issue is.  These are often subtle items that you can only fully understand after reading and thinking about the situation for a bit of time.



After the second week of the semester, you will have a drop box assignment, where you will provide the main ethical issue of your case study presented in a clear and concise question.  This will be graded.  It is imperative for your overall grade, your understanding of the case, and for the rest of the class members, that you understand the main ethical issue before you continue to work on your case study presentation.


Part of the presentation will include an opinion from an expert who works in the public arena.  It is very important that you choose an expert who has some experience with your type of situation.  He or she can greatly assist you in understanding this situation.  They can offer you advice for research and give their recommendation for what should have happened.  So, be very strategic in picking an expert, and speak with them as soon as possible after you have correctly identified the ethical issue.  Your presentation will be much better and easier to complete if you choose an expert with direct experience with your issue.  Additionally, you will lose points if you don’t interview an appropriate expert.


You will create this presentation as a power point. ( PowerPoint files (.pptx, .ppt.)) No other presentation formats will be accepted.  All SPC students can download this program for free.  Thus, everyone should be able to create and view each presentation.


This presentation will consist of 7 distinct and separate parts.  Be sure and clearly complete each step before beginning the next one.  After your individual presentations have been graded, they will be uploaded for all of the students in the class to read and to learn about each case, and each specific ethical issue presented.  Thus, it is imperative that you clearly present your case study so that the other members of the class can understand your case study and the lessons to be learned.   The lessons learned in the case studies will be part of your final exam in this class.


As this is a power point presentation, bullet points and charts are acceptable for parts of the presentation.  Appropriate graphics and pictures are also welcome.  Use a font and color easily read.  Your grammar, punctuation, spelling, etc. MUST be correct.  Everyone in the class is going to see your work.  Make EACH slide appear once the slide has been selected.  DO NOT make us click over and over just to get all of the items on the slide to appear.  Please do not use shadowing or 3D letters in the power point presentation.  (Nothing fancy –   Just direct and simple for the rest of the class to use and understand.)


There are no slide minimums or maximums.  Use the check list below to do a complete job.  “Complete job” means clearly and concisely providing the necessary information.  So, 7 slides probably isn’t going to do the job, and 40 slides is probably too much information which needs some editing.


There will be a due date in MyCourses for when these assignments will be due.  They will be due at the same time and day for all students.  Remember, I do not accept late work, so plan accordingly.





If you do not complete the assignment in such a way that your fellow classmates can understand the case study, you will not receive a passing grade, and you will be asked to redo the assignment.  These are not hard, but they will require some dedicated time to complete.  So, just plan accordingly.  And, remember, every student in the class is dependent on another.  So, let’s do a great job the first time around, and have some fun exploring how some public officials have made poor choices in the past.


As with all assignments for this course, the instructor is here to assist you.  If you have questions or need some guidance, I am happy to help.  I won’t do your work for you, but I am happy to point you in the right direction.  (Especially, if you have questions about who might be a good expert for your case, or questions about honing in on the correct main ethical issue.)





Steps in Creating a Case Study


Please remember to include on the first slide, the chapter and title of your case from the book.  Also be sure and include your name.



  1. Identify the main ethical issue:
  • This ethical issue will be presented as a clear and simple question –

Is it right that…?  Or is it ethical that….?

  • The issue will constitute the heart of the case study, and thus influences all parts, including how the issue is or should be resolved.
  • There may indeed be other ethical issues to consider, but you MUST ID the one overriding issue. The other issues can be discussed, but only after the main issue has been clearly identified.





  1. Create an outline of the case study:
  • Case studies are stories; they teach what stories teach – which happens to be what public administrators need to learn.
  • Tell the story.
  • Select facts and incidents that will be easily recognized and understood by participants.
  • Summarize the important facts into a concise explanation of what happened.
  • Make it so we will recognize the ethical issue by the facts of the story.
  • Organize the facts in a logical sequence.
  • Use a writing style that is simple and direct – no long winded dissertations.
  • Recount events or incidents in chronological order.





  1. Identify the stakeholders:
  • Clearly identify each stakeholder in terms of his/her position in the context of the story
  • Each person mentioned in the case study is a stakeholder. There may be additional stakeholders that will be affected by the decision regarding the ethical issue.
  • Whether the case study is short or long, present a clear, concise, and coherent portrait of the stakeholders.
  • Present your key stakeholders and provide information that clearly identifies him/her/them.
  • Establish the relationship between the stakeholders and the issue under study.
  • Include the organizational context.




  1. Identify the perspectives:
  • Identify any agendas or goals of the stakeholders – apparent or hidden.
  • Understand that public administration is politics – not the “obvious politics” of high stakes electioneering and policy making, but the “other politics” of small-scale, behind the scenes problems solving.
  • Are any of the stakeholders too close the situation, or to a person to be rational?
  • Do any of the stakeholders not like each other? Why?
  • What biases or interest does each stakeholder have?
  • It’s usually helpful to break out the goals being pursued by each stakeholder.
  • Did the stakeholder make a mistake that they are now trying to cover up?
  • What does the stakeholder stand to lose or gain in the situation?




  1. Research:
  • Your presentation must include some outside research in addition to your expert’s opinion.
  • Assume we are in the state of Florida for each of these cases.
  • Has this happened in the past?
  • Newspaper articles
  • Journal articles
  • Similar situations or cases
  • Accurately recount what your expert had to say about this situation.
  • Include a bit of biographical and background information about your expert
  • Are there any applicable laws, codes, regulations, internal policies or ethical codes of conduct to be considered? (These can be state, county or municipal – from within Florida) (You could also look to applicable national or federal resources.)
  • Cite these resources correctly.
  • Explain what each source says and how is it applicable to this situation.
  • How does this source shed light on this situation?




  1. Make recommendations:
  • Remind the reader of the main ethical issue again.
  • Based upon your expert’s opinion and your research into the matter, tell the reader what should have happened. Basically, you need to answer the question posed by the main ethical issue.   This needs to be a thorough explanation and discussion.
  • After you have recounted a thorough recommendation of the main ethical issue, if your case also has other subordinate issues, remind the reader of these issues and also offer a recommendation of these issues. (Many of our cases have numerous ethical issues.  So, feel free to point these out after explaining the recommendation of the main ethical issue.)




  1. Work Cited
  • Include all sources used in the presentation.
  • MLA Citations
  • Outside Research used in the presentation
  • The text
  • Your expert(s)
  • News Articles
  • Journal Articles
  • Applicable codes of ethics
  • Applicable Laws
  • Applicable Regulations




One last check:

Proofread this presentation:  Check grammar, punctuation, spelling, and readability of slides.  You will be graded on these items, as well as the content of your presentation.


Think “as if” you don’t know anything about the situation presented in your case.:  Does your presentation accurately, and concisely:


  1. Identify the main ethical issue
  2. Indentify any subordinate ethical issues
  3. Tell the story of what happened in a way easily understood
  4. Clearly identify the main characters of the story and their perspectives
  5. Provide research, including an expert opinion, about the situation
  6. Clearly explain what should have happened and why


Basically, your reader should be able to easily understand the overall lesson of what went wrong and how to make it right next time.