Board Leadership: The Hewlett- Packard (HP) and Pretexting Case Study

1279 Words 6 Pages
The problem to be investigated is the ethical dilemmas faced by Board members that impact their ability to be effective leaders. This problem relates to the ethical issues raised in the Hewlett- Packard (HP) and Pretexting: Spying on the Board case study which was an examination of leaking Board sensitive information and the investigation of board members. As such this essay explores key factors relating to: (a) the drivers for the investigation and the tacit approval of this conduct; (b) issues of legal versus ethical conduct; (c) issues missed when analyzing the pretext decision and; (d) the governance strengths and weaknesses of the HP board.
The drivers behind the pretexting investigation and the unspoken approval by the legal
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In all accounts, the board acted without any decision making preparation, considerations of the consequences of their actions, or whether their actions were ethical or legal.
The inquest as to whether the Board’s conduct was ethical or legal is vital to the investigation of their ethical leadership. The act of pretexting or “posing as another person in order to get information” is a legal gray area (Jennings, 2009). However, when a board request legal opinion or seeks legal support for conduct implies that the Board thought that there might be an ethical or legal issue in the proposed course of action (Jennings, 2006). Even with doubts, the Board did not initiate an investigation in the ethical behavior of its members. In fact, according to her attorney, Ann Baskins regretted not questioning whether pretexting was ethical (Jennings, 2009). Consequently, it is ascertained that the Board’s conduct of straddling the legal line and unethical behavior was detrimental to the growth and stability of the company and shareholders’ interest. In the very least, HP gained a seriously flawed reputation and shareholders confidence in the Board’s ability to be an effective leader drastically decreased.
Other factors that contributed to the Board’s ability to lead effectively are the

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