Communication Ethics and a Command Decision
Write 4–5 page analysis of ethical aspects surrounding a decision of the commander of the USS Theodore Roosevelt to disseminate a plea for help for his Covid-19-stricken ship, and write a communication detailing lessons learned from the incident.
While it may seem that ethical communication is less often the norm than it once was, experienced communications professionals know that credibility can be undermined if ethical norms are not observed in communications. Understanding the complexities that often arise will leave you better prepared to craft effective communications.
Employees increasingly report ethical abuses to those in positions of power. However, when business and technology managers fail to proactively manage ethical issues, they risk employees becoming involved in whistleblowing, or the disclosure of illegal and unethical behaviors to those who can do something about them. Reporting unethical behavior is a complicated ethical issue. Should the whistleblower report his or her finding internally and wait for results, or should the whistleblower go directly to the public? The answer is not simple. The decisions individuals make about either the knowledge of or participation in ethical abuses will not only influence their own career satisfaction but also directly affect the performance of the organization.
In this assessment, you will examine the decision of Captain Brett Crozier of the USS Theodore Roosevelt to send a plea for help for his ship that was stricken by the Covid-19 virus in March 2020. There are many resources available on the web you can use to conduct research to inform yourself of the issues that arose between the time of the initial communication from the Captain to the resignation of the acting Secretary of the Navy and subsequent fallout for his missteps in handling the issue. You are encouraged to find your own resources, but here are some available options. It is important that you read both Captain Cozier’s letter and the transcript (or listen to the audio) of Secretary Modly’s speech.
Youssef, N. A., & Lubold, G. (2020, April 3). Navy removes captain of coronavirus-stricken aircraft carrier; Capt. Brett Crozier, in memo, called for immediate attention to outbreak on the USS Theodore Roosevelt. Wall Street Journal.
Welna, D. (2020, April 7). Modly resigns as acting navy chief after firing warship skipper and calling him stupid. NPR. Retrieved from https://www.npr.org/2020/04/07/829107952/modly-reportedly-submits-resignation-as-acting-navy-chief-over-warship-skipper-f
CNN. (2020, April 6). Transcript: Acting Navy Secretary Thomas Modly addresses USS Theodore Roosevelt crew about “stupid” ousted captain. Retrieved from https://www.cnn.com/2020/04/06/politics/thomas-modly-transcript/index.html
Gafni, M., & Garofoli, J. (2020, March 31). Captain of aircraft carrier with growing coronavirus outbreak pleads for help from Navy. San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved from https://www.sfchronicle.com/bayarea/article/Exclusive-Captain-of-aircraft-carrier-with-15167883.php#
Latan, H., Jabbour, C. J. C., & Jabbour, A. B. L. (2019). Ethical awareness, ethical judgment and whistleblowing: A moderated mediation analysis. Journal of Business Ethics, 155(1), 289–304.
This study examines the relationship between ethical awareness and ethical judgement and how individuals’ perceived moral characters play into the decision to “blow the whistle” on wrongdoing.
Captain Crozier, Commander of the USS Theodore Roosevelt, wrote and distributed a controversial letter that pleaded for help for crew members stricken by the Covid-19 virus in March of 2020. The communication was sent to several recipients and eventually found its way to the news media. The situation became front-page news and was actively debated in the media. Senior leaders believed that Captain Crozier may have avoided his chain of command for fear that his immediate leader would suppress the issue and expose the sailors to unnecessary danger. His decisions and actions that lead up to his writing of the letter are fraught with ethical dilemmas.
In this assessment you are asked to analyze ethical aspects surrounding Captain Crozier’s decision to widely disseminate the letter.
Thoroughly research the issues using the Internet and the articles provided in Resources. You may need to conduct additional research to support your analysis.
As you can see by your research, there is a lot going on behind the scenes in this scenario. However, it is clear that the Captain of the USS Theodore Roosevelt was facing a difficult ethical situation and tried to find the best way to communicate his concerns. There are many questions that likely come to mind, such as:
What was the dilemma facing the Captain? How might he have weighed his decision?
Should the Captain have sent the message? Why or why not?
Was the content of the communication appropriate, taking into the consideration the recipient(s) of the letter? Did he distribute the letter for maximum effect?
What should he have done differently?
Did the Captain violate Navy ethical guidelines? Are his actions at odds with communication guidelines? Is that how he should be judged?
Was his punishment justified?
How do you think his crew felt? Is that relevant?
Consider the Captain’s decision to send the letter, the manner in which the letter was sent, and the recipient(s) of the letter. Complete both parts of this assessment in a single Word document.
PART 1: ANALYZE THE SCENARIO
Analyze the ethical decision that the Captain faced as it relates to how he communicated his plea and in the context of his position. Consider the sender, receiver, message, and channel.
Analyze the primary failures and successes of the Captain’s communication strategy. Make sure to consider how the letter was distributed, the Captain’s possible intent, and the content of the letter.
If this situation had occurred in the private sector and not the military, would the outcomes have been similar or different? Defend your reasoning.
PART 2: WRITE A COMMUNICATION
Imagine that you were the commanding officer of another naval ship who had followed this sequence of events closely. Your ship’s Public Affairs Officer reports to you and is responsible for many of the ship’s external communications, and you are anxious to share your lessons learned from the USS Theodore Roosevelt situation.
Send a communication to your Public Affairs Officer that conveys and re-enforces the primary lesson(s) learned from the incident on the USS Theodore Roosevelt. Be sure you focus on the actions of the Captain. The medium is your choice, but it is also very important, so state the medium you have chosen within your message and the reason you feel it is the most appropriate medium to use. Address possible reasons such as confidentiality, tone, convention, et cetera.
Complete both parts of this assessment in a single Word document.
Written communication: Written communication is free of errors that detract from the overall message.
APA style and formatting: Resources and citations are formatted according to current APA style and formatting standards.
Font: Times New Roman, 12 point.
Length: Part 1 should be 3–4 pages, double spaced, and Part 2 should be 1 page, double spaced. Page count does not include your cover page or reference page.
Cited resources: Use a minimum of three scholarly sources. All literature cited should be current, with publication dates within the past five years.
See attached scoring guide; paper should meet Proficient or Distinguished in all criteria listed.
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