The Pug Predicament: Ethical Decision-Making in an Online Marketplace

Case number : 9 100 2022 004
Case published in the International Journal of Case Studies in Management, Vol. 20, No. 2
Date :  2022-06-13
Teaching notes included :  Yes

This case presents an ethical quandary faced by Rob Edwards, director of trust and safety of a large New Zealand-based C2C (customer-to-customer) online marketplace. Following a review of its animal welfare policy, Rob is considering regulating the marketplace’s trade in pugs, English bulldogs, and French bulldogs, breeds that suffer from a condition called brachycephalic obstructive airway syndrome (BOAS). Via a dialogue between Rob and his team, the case explores several options for resolving the problem. The case highlights the complexity of moderating digital platforms in a way that balances openness with trust and safety.

Teaching objectives
  • Understand how socio-political and legislative contexts influence the content moderation and trust and safety policies of digital platforms.
  • Analyze how trust and safety mechanisms can be used to mitigate market failures that can harm platform participants.
  • Reflect on the role of animal welfare in managerial decision-making and how it should be considered in business ethics.
  • Recognize and understand the moral conflict inherent in right-versus-right ethical dilemmas.
  • Apply an ethical decision-making framework to develop a morally sound solution to an ethical dilemma in the context of platform regulation and moderation.
Primary domain :  Business ethics
Secondary domain :  Information technology
Sectors :  Retail trade
Type :  Traditional case (Descriptive or analytical case)
Event location : 
Year of start of the event :  2018
Year the event ended :  Not available
Business size :  Medium-sized enterprise