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Posts Tagged ‘ethics’

Following yesterday’s post, in which I laid bare the contents of an e-mail exchange with an organisation that says it provides tutoring support for MBA students as well as bespoke, written from scratch MBA assignments (for a price) I did receive a reply to my (I will freely admit) provocative and critical e-mail.

I wasn’t sure whether I should write another blog post. After all, I would not normally broadcast e-mail content in this way. However, there is no getting away from the fact that at least part of what this company is offering is ethically objectionable and I’m afraid when it comes to violating certain standards and values, I think an interest in upholding those values outweighs the potential embarrassment of someone being a bit annoyed about their e-mail being placed in the public domain.

Had the reply been differently worded, I also probably wouldn’t have bothered. I will let you read what I received, so that you can make your own mind, and then (because I was not encouraged to enter into a dialogue directly by replying) I will place an annotated version with my own position and opinion below that.

This is what Dr Robson sent me yesterday:

“—–Original Message—–
From: support@mbawinner.com [mailto:support@mbawinner.com]
Sent: 23 January 2012 16:27
To: Chris Dalton
Cc: support@mbawinner.com;

Subject: RE: MBA Winner Newsletter

Dear Mr Dalton

My intention is not to start a conversation with you as we share very different views on what we do and what services we offer and why offer them.

You are free to use any adjectives you like as these are an extension of someone’s thinking and well being. On this ground we do not take offense even though we might feel pity for the stance you take.

Thank you for accepting my apologies. The information we use is publically available. Our newsletter is sent out to a number of individuals some of which subscribe for it and some do not but are nevertheless given the opportunity to read something that will make them think of their MBA studies. In any case individuals have the opportunity to read the newsletter or delete the email.

With regards to our website and the information contained in it please note the following issues.

Firstly, the chargeable rates of professional service provides depend on the client’s actual requirements and these can differ considerably.

So even though we might not mention our rates this is in order not to confuse our clients. Once we know what our clients needs and want we can then negotiate the appropriate rate for our service.

Secondly, contrary to your expectations a lot of the work we do is tutoring students, spending time explaining and supporting them.

Our aim is not to compete with universities but to offer a service that allows students to understand and build up their knowledge and confidence.

We understand the debate on plagiarism and I would not like to go into this further and for what is ethical or not because I have seen business schools engaging in highly unethical behaviour and this is highly disguised under their corporate power and structure.

What I can say with confidence, and from our experience however, is that universities remain highly impersonal to students’ needs and personal circumstances. Our aim is to encourage our clients to learn but there are cases where the work we produce for them made the whole difference. I repeat that this is something that you do not have to accept or agree with. However interpretations about why and how such service adds or does not add to a students’ experience should be treated with greater caution.

Thirdly, our website features testimonials and I am not sure how you missed it.

http://www.mbawinner.com/testimonials.html

We do not have a profile of tutors because we do not think that we need one. Do you know many websites where they advertise all the employees working for them?

With regards to the students’ education and professional development all I can say is that there is no monopoly for how the education and development on students happens. I respect the work that you do.

However you must appreciate that business schools often operate as impersonal aggressive profit making machines.

We do not claim to offer the world but the work we do is specific, is well thought and adds value to the students. The feedback we get from our clients is really the best testimony to support this.

I leave the debate here and wish you good luck with your work

Kind Regards

Dr Adam Robson”

And here are my thoughts, inserted as comments in the text:

“—–Original Message—–
From: support@mbawinner.com [mailto:support@mbawinner.com]
Sent: 23 January 2012 16:27
To: Chris Dalton
Cc: support@mbawinner.com;

Subject: RE: MBA Winner Newsletter

Dear Mr Dalton

My intention is not to start a conversation with you as we share very different views on what we do and what services we offer and why offer them. [ Fair enough. We do have different views. My view is that plagiarism is cheating.]

You are free to use any adjectives you like as these are an extension of someone’s thinking and well being. On this ground we do not take offense even though we might feel pity for the stance you take. [ Hold on, is Dr Robson feeling sorry for me? As far as I can tell, my stance is that the payment of another person to write an assignment for you, for you then to submit this work as part of a university degree without acknowledging that someone else wrote it is quite unequivocally not allowed. I’m not sure I’m the one who should feel a little bit ashamed.]

Thank you for accepting my apologies. The information we use is publically available. Our newsletter is sent out to a number of individuals some of which subscribe for it and some do not but are nevertheless given the opportunity to read something that will make them think of their MBA studies. In any case individuals have the opportunity to read the newsletter or delete the email. [ I think Dr Robson is apologising for having, presumably, proactively gone out and lifted my e-mail address from the public domain as a potential client for his company’s services. I don’t feel too bad about this, and he’s right that my e-mail is probably quite easily accessible. However, his company’s newsletter was a thinly veiled advertisement people who might indeed ” think of their MBA studies” to think also about how they might pay MBA Winner for advice and/or assignment writing. I think Dr Robson believes this is a legitimate public service.]

With regards to our website and the information contained in it please note the following issues.

Firstly, the chargeable rates of professional service provides depend on the client’s actual requirements and these can differ considerably.

So even though we might not mention our rates this is in order not to confuse our clients. Once we know what our clients needs and want we can then negotiate the appropriate rate for our service. [ I wonder how much that is.]

Secondly, contrary to your expectations a lot of the work we do is tutoring students, spending time explaining and supporting them. [ If that was all that they did, I guess that would be okay. A bit strange, mind, but okay. The point, of course, is that this is not all they do]

Our aim is not to compete with universities but to offer a service that allows students to understand and build up their knowledge and confidence. [ What?!? A business service that allows students to understand and build up their knowledge and confidence? What a great idea! I wonder what we could give as a name to this kind of service? How about ” Business School”?]

We understand the debate on plagiarism and I would not like to go into this further and for what is ethical or not because I have seen business schools engaging in highly unethical behaviour and this is highly disguised under their corporate power and structure. [ Is there a “debate”? I wonder which part of cheating is ambiguous. I’m sure Dr Robson would indeed not like to go into this further. It is, after all,  pretty thin ice to be standing on and it’s still January.  His rationale for saying that there is no problem in getting somebody to write to your assignment for you seems to be that it is no less ethical then the way that business schools interact and behave with their students. An interesting argument. It would be even more interesting, I suppose, if there were any evidence of this (no examples on his website). It may well be true that universities are institutions that do exercise power in their structure, and actually the debate around what is the best way to evaluate and assess someone’s learning is a genuine interesting area for research, but I cannot understand the logic that, in effect, legitimises the custom authoring of graded coursework.  Personally, I think that the relationship between student and institution (just like the relationship between manager and organisation, and between organisation and customer, and so on…) respresents the two sides of the same coin.]

What I can say with confidence, and from our experience however, is that universities remain highly impersonal to students’ needs and personal circumstances. Our aim is to encourage our clients to learn but there are cases where the work we produce for them made the whole difference. I repeat that this is something that you do not have to accept or agree with. However interpretations about why and how such service adds or does not add to a students’ experience should be treated with greater caution. [” There are cases where the work we produce for them made the whole difference”? Wow. No, I guess this is something that I do not have to accept or agree with. How is this not a ‘ black and white’ argument? Seriously. What kind of integrity a manager have if they had progressed through to university graduation with a Masters degree with this kind of moral compass? What does that say about role of the Business School in society? I could accept that, if a student were affluent enough or (and let’s be generous and say that there may well be some schools which are not as good as some others) desperate enough, paying for some additional subject or study skills tutoring is fine. This seems like the legitimate “front” for the plagiarism aspect.]

Thirdly, our website features testimonials and I am not sure how you missed it. [ Fair point. I did find this later.]

http://www.mbawinner.com/testimonials.html

We do not have a profile of tutors because we do not think that we need one. Do you know many websites where they advertise all the employees working for them? [ Not a fair point. I think they do not put the profiles of the tutors up online because they know that what the tutors are doing is unethical, and if any of them had careers in current academia, those careers would be in jeopardy.]

With regards to the students’ education and professional development all I can say is that there is no monopoly for how the education and development on students happens. I respect the work that you do. [ Sorry, but I don’t believe a word of that.]

However you must appreciate that business schools often operate as impersonal aggressive profit-making machines.

We do not claim to offer the world but the work we do is specific, is well thought and adds value to the students. The feedback we get from our clients is really the best testimony to support this.

I leave the debate here and wish you good luck with your work

Kind Regards

Dr Adam Robson”

I’d be interested to hear what other people think about this. Am I crazy? Anyway, I will leave “the debate” here.

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