Few companies these days are as controversial for their business practices as Uber. However, in spite of the negative publicity they are a very widely used and growing service company that is replacing taxi cabs and even leading some people to give up their own car in favor of using Uber to get to work. The number of drivers also keeps growing.
There are too many controversies regarding Uber to keep track of, so we will focus just on three that we will examine from a utilitarian perspective. Below are three issues to look into for the assignment, and a few articles to get you started on your research:
Uber uses money from investors to keep its prices very low. They lose money on many rides, but they are willing to lose money to put the competition out of business:
Wolsen, M. (2014, July 8). Uber’s brilliant strategy to make it too big to ban. Wired. Retrieved from: https://www.wired.com/2014/07/ubers-brilliant-strategy-to-make-itself-too-big-to-ban/
Uber classifies their drivers as contractors rather than employees, which keeps labor costs down:
Frazier, R. (2016, October 14). Sharing is caring: Are Uber, Lyft drivers independent contractors? HR Hero Line. Retrieved from: http://www.hrhero.com/hl/articles/2016/10/14/sharing-is-caring-are-uber-lyft-drivers-independent-contractors-2/
Uber has allegedly used technology to evade the authorities and regulations:
Isaac, M. (2017, March 3). How Uber deceives the authorities worldwide. New York Times. Retrieved from: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/03/03/technology/uber-greyball-program-evade-authorities.html
For this assignment, you will be examining these practices of Uber through the lens of utilitarian ethics. You will need to put aside any personal feelings in favor or against Uber and instead take the cold and logical approach of weighing the good caused by their practices vs. the harm caused by their actions for each of the three issues above.
Once you have finished reviewing the required background readings on utilitarian ethics and corporate social responsibility and had a chance to research the three issues on Uber mentioned above, write a 4- to 5-page paper addressing the following:
Who are Uber’s main stakeholders? Your answer should be based both on your research on Uber and the discussion in Brusseau (2012) about stakeholders.
Which stakeholders are harmed and which stakeholders benefit from Uber’s strategy of using investor money to keep prices artificially low? Does the good outweigh the bad, or vice versa? Apply the Utility Test: http://ethicsops.com/UtilityTest.php
Which stakeholders are harmed and what stakeholders benefit from Uber’s policy of classifying drivers as contractors rather than employees? Apply the Utility Test and explain whether the good outweighs the harm or not.
Finally, discuss which shareholders are harmed and which stakeholders are helped by Uber’s use of advanced software to evade authorities? Again use the Utility Test and explain whether the good outweighs the harm or not.
Follow the guidelines in The Student Guide to Writing a High Quality Academic Paper.
Don’t forget to properly cite your sources—both in-text and as end references!
You are expected to demonstrate evidence of critical thinking—as defined in the background materials and the grading rubric. Don’t just summarize information. Instead demonstrate your ability to come to a conclusion and support your conclusion using logical arguments.
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