Big Deal? Or No Big Deal!

2 Pages Posted: 17 Jun 2009

See all articles by Alexander Horniman

Alexander Horniman

University of Virginia - Darden School of Business


This note consists of three vignettes that depict three typical yet unique experiences. The issues discussed provide the student with a chance to compare and contrast ethical frameworks. The note is relevant to both managers and nonmanagers in the business arena.




The following paragraphs present brief summaries of situations similar to the Ralph Rowson case. Some situations confront people with decisions and actions that they think are very important Big Deal (BD). Yet for others these same situations are easily dismissed as No Big Deal (NBD). Please evaluate the following situations from your BD or NBD perspective. When some thing is considered to be a Big Deal it is usually because we feel that whatever action we take it will define us as a human being and reflect our character or lack of same.

Susan Marston was stunned by her friend's revelations that she had just shared. Janet Roe had been her friend ever since college and here she was telling her things she almost didn't want to know. The black eye, facial cuts and the bruises on her arms were shocking testimony to Janet's story that revealed her husband's violent physical abuse. “You have to understand,” she said “Bill's just upset. He's been drinking a lot lately and he just loses control. It's not really his fault. He's under a lot of stress right now working directly for George,” Susan's husband, who was the project leader on the company's top priority project. Susan didn't know what to say. Then just before ending the conversation Janet said “and promise me you won't tell George. Bill would kill me.”

That evening when George came home he was clearly troubled. “Some thing is going on with Bill. Do you have an idea, Susan?”

Peter Reed couldn't believe his eyes. He read the memo and the new product list that it introduced. As Vice President of Marketing he knew the products on the list were not new at all. They were in fact the existing products renamed and discounted to be offered in an attempt to stimulate new customers. Peter was so incensed that he stormed into the President's Office and demanded to know what was going on. “Calm down” the President said. “Our existing customers will never know and we don't have the time or resources to create a totally new product series. Don't worry Peter, you won't have to do anything. This is my decision! All you have to do is brief the new sales force that will take these products to the field.” “But what about our long standing customers?” Peter asked. “They will never have to know Peter, now let's get going,” declared the President. “By the way Peter if you don't support this I'm sure I can find a person who would like to be Vice President of Marketing.” The president's words rang in Peter's head all the way back to his office.

. . .

Keywords: communication process, communication strategy

Suggested Citation

Horniman, Alexander, Big Deal? Or No Big Deal!. Darden Case No. UVA-OB-0611, Available at SSRN:

Alexander Horniman (Contact Author)

University of Virginia - Darden School of Business ( email )

P.O. Box 6550
Charlottesville, VA 22906-6550
United States


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