TELUS Corporation (TELUS) has installed a new cell phone tower near the University of Calgary. But it is also located less than 100 meters away from the West Campus Child Care Centre, which is under the list of “discouraged locations” as per the City of Calgary’s Protocols. The University of Calgary backed TELUS claims that the radio frequency waves emitted by the cellphone towers are very low and well below the safety threshold according to Health Canada's Safety Code 6. However, the parents of children at the West Campus Child Care Centre think otherwise. As the local community voiced their concerns regarding the tower installation, TELUS must decide whether to turn a deaf ear to the people's concerns or relocate its cellphone tower away from the area.
Xiaoyu Liu and Hao Lu
Harvard Business Review (W18752-PDF-ENG)
December 03, 2018
Case questions answered:
- Using the principles of ethics (the different schools of thought), analyze the dilemma at hand.
- Imagine yourself being in the shoes of the team at Telus. How would you proceed in the given situation? (Tip: Use the Potter box analysis to defend your stance).
- Recommend a socially responsible way of addressing the situation.
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Telus: Ethics and Cellphone Tower Sites Case Answers
1. Using the principles of ethics (the different schools of thought), analyze the dilemma at hand.
The ethical dilemma faced by TELUS can be analyzed from four major ethical perspectives:
Virtue Ethics: Virtue ethics is based on the person rather than action-based. It means an act that a virtuous person would do in the same circumstances is considered ethically right. Thus, the virtue or moral character of the person guides his or her actions. It is concerned with the whole person’s life rather than particular episodes or actions.
Some of the cardinal virtues are justice, prudence, fidelity, and equity, among others. In the given case, a virtuous person will have to ensure that all stakeholders, including parents, children, faculty, university, and TELUS, are considered to take a justiciable and prudent decision (BBC, n.d.).
Deontology: Deontology helps distinguish right from wrong. According to this perspective, ethical actions follow universal moral laws. People need to follow these laws and do their duties. These moral laws fit well with natural intuition about what is or isn’t ethical (Ethics Unwrapped, n.d.).
The possible consequences of actions are not taken into consideration to determine what is right and what is wrong. From the deontological point of view, the ethical dilemma at hand should follow the natural intuition that the children should not be harmed at the expense of benefiting university students and faculty members.
Teleology: Teleology is concerned with end results rather than means. The cost-benefit analysis is done to weigh costs against benefits and determine what is good for all.
The teleological principles are used for informed decision-making by basing decisions on the purpose intended to achieve (The Ethics Center, 2022).
As per teleology, the decision to install cell towers can be justified as end result is to provide better connectivity to students and faculty members, even if the means are not ethical. Here, the university members are benefitted at the expense of children and their parents.
Relativism: As per relativism, nothing is absolutely right and wrong. Different standards of reasoning and procedures of justification due to different assessment frameworks determine the rightness or wrongness of the situation (Standard Encyclopedia, 2020). However, this theory is criticized due to its incoherence.
From a relativist point of view, the decision to install cell towers can be justified because there are inconsistent results regarding the relationship between RF exposure and health issues. The cell tower would increase the efficiency of signals received by the students and faculty members.
On the other hand, the parents of the children are also ethically right in demanding the removal of a cell tower due to serious health concerns associated with the cell tower, like brain tumors and cancer, among various others.
2. Imagine yourself being in the shoes of the team at Telus. How would you proceed in the given situation? (Tip: Use the Potter box analysis to defend your stance).
As per Potter Box analysis, any situation should be…
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