Given these categories, which type of disobedience did Stephanie exhibit?

In chapter 4, we learn the difference between a proper engineering decision (PED) and a proper management decision (PMD). Consider the EXCESS case below. Should the decision whether to report the chemical spill have been a PED or a PMD? Explain why. When engineers disagree with their employers they may engage in organizational disobedience. My notes for Chapter 4 discuss three different types of organizational disobedience (by contrary action, by nonparticipation, by protest), and the textbook focuses on the disobedience by protest (also called “whistleblowing”) Given these categories, which type of disobedience did Stephanie exhibit? Do you think she handled the problem in the best way? If not, how should she have handled it? Why?


Stephanie Simon knew environmental manager Adam Baines would not be pleased with her report on the chemical spill. The data clearly indicated that the spill was large enough that regulations required it to be reported to the state. Stephanie perceived Adam to be someone who thinks industry is overregulated, especially in the environmental area. At the same time, he prided himself as a major player in maintaining LPC Chemical’s public reputation as an environmental leader in the chemical industry. “We do a terrific job,” he often said. “And we don’t need a bunch of hard to read, difficult to interpret, easily misunderstood state regulations to do it. We got along just fine before the regulators ran wild, and we’re doing fine now”

When Stephanie presents her report to Adam, he loses his temper. “This is ridiculous! We’re not going to send anything like this to the state. A few gallons over the limit isn’t worth the time it’s going to take to fill out those damned forms. I can’t believe you’d submit a report like this. Stephanie, go back to your desk and rework those numbers until it comes out right. I don’t want to see any more garbage like this.”

Stephanie refuses to rework the report. Instead she goes back to her desk, signs the report, writes a memo about her conversation with Adam, and then returns to Adam’s office. She hands him the report and says, “You don’t want to see any more garbage like this? Neither do I. Here’s my original report – signed, sealed, and delivered. I’ve had it here. I’m not fudging data for anyone. As she turns to leave, she adds, “By the way, Adam, before you get any ideas about making it hard for me to get another job, I have a nice little memo about our earlier conversation. I won’t hesitate to send it right upstairs at the slightest provocation.”

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