Case Study: Sycamore Pharmaceuticals
John Blake should cooperate with the FDA representative and reveal the true information. Blake should cooperate because first, it is against his ethical values to provide inaccurate information about the company’s drugs to the customers. Another reason why he should cooperate with the FDA agent is that this is a legal requirement. The law requires that employees may share confidential information about their employer if there is a legal justification for sharing such information (Cho & Song, 2015). According to Heumann, Friedes, Cassak, Wright, and Joshi (2013), whistleblowing often highlights the management’s ineffectiveness or failures. Blake would thus be exposing the CEO’s failures. Lastly, the CEO had made it clear that employees should delay providing damaging reports “as long as legally possible.” Under the current circumstances, it was not legally possible to hide the truth.
John Blake should realize that there are both positive and negative consequences. If Blake fails to be honest with the FDA representative, the company will continue promoting ineffective drugs to innocent patients. This will increase the feelings of guilt as the actions of the company are against his ethical values. In addition, innocent people may die or suffer debilitating consequences due to the use of ineffective drugs to treat their conditions. If Blake cooperates with the FDA representative, he may face retaliatory action from the management. For instance, he may lose his job or face discrimination. In addition, the company may experience significant financial challenges in the future as customers avoid its products.
It would actually take lots of courage for Blake to reveal the timing and content of scientific studies. It would take courage because most whistleblowers face retaliatory action from the employers once they reveal the illegitimate activities of the organization. The organizational leadership may retaliate by taking various actions such as demoting, firing, disciplining, denying opportunities for promotion, threats and intimidation, and through other actions. Blake may lean on various sources of courage to help him through. Daft (2015) provides four ways of gaining courage. The first source of courage is to make a step-by-step approach to the situation at hand. Finding courage involves making systematic decisions developed through conscious efforts.
Another source of courage is anger and frustration. Blake may call upon his frustrations and anger caused by the actions by the company to overcome his fears (Daft, 2015). Anger can drive emotions that provide people with energy to take a certain course that would not be possible under normal circumstances. Blake can also find courage by believing in a higher purpose (Daft, 2015). Purpose is about what makes an individual distinctive. Purpose is what drives one to achieve daily goals. Purpose defines how an individual performs his/her job. Blake should believe that he stands for ethical leadership in the organization. In this way, he will have the courage to tell the truth. Lastly, Blake can gain courage by connecting with other employees of similar opinion as his. This would give them courage to report the truth.
Dominguez and Blake went along with the deception in the first place because they refused to stand for what is right and challenge the leadership decisions. Both were too complacent with the decisions that the leadership made. Had they questioned such decisions, the situation would be different. Another reason why they went along with the deception is fear brought about by intimidation from the management. This is evident in the email from the CEO to Dominguez warning that they should refrain from reporting anything negative about the company’s products. Another reason why they participated is ignorance of the legal consequences of such decisions. I would not have participated in suppressing the negative studies. This is because there are legal consequences and in such cases, the truth must come out someday. Moreover, it is unethical to participate in such action.
Cho, Y. J., & Song, H. J. (2015). Determinants of whistleblowing within government agencies. Public Personnel Management, 44(4), 450-472. doi:10.1177/0091026015603206
Daft, R. L., & Lane, P. G. (2015). The leadership experience. Australia: Cengage Learning.
Heumann, M., Friedes, A., Cassak, L., Wright, W., & Joshi, E. (2013). The world of whistleblowing. Public Integrity, 16(1), 25-52. doi:10.2753/PIN1099-9922160102