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

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CASE STUDY. 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.

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

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.

Target audience

  • Advanced undergraduate business courses that address ethical reasoning and the stakeholder perspective on corporate social responsibility

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.

Additional information

Teachers’ notes are available for university teachers only. Please contact the HEC Montréal Case Centre.

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