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Case
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Reference no. HKS1764.0
Authors: Kenneth Winston
Published by: Harvard Kennedy School
Published in: 2004

Abstract

In a world of increasingly fluid boundaries, public and private managers often face ethical challenges that cross familiar geographical and cultural lines. This disguised case recounts the experience of a chemical engineer from Brazil who crosses gender lines to forge a successful career in the masculine world of the Latin American petrochemical industry. The central focus of the case is a project to construct a pipeline in Ecuador to carry crude oil from Indian territories in the Amazon to a delivery point on the Pacific coast. Because of her business acumen and skill in working with representatives of a multinational consortium, the protagonist becomes a project leader for her company - taking on managerial responsibilities even while being denied a managerial title. Her work goes well, until she decides to visit one of the Indian communities whose way of life is being disrupted by the pipeline project. The dramatic encounter with tribal members - including the ritual drinking of traditional chicha - produces a crisis of conscience that leads her to wonder whether her professional ambitions require willful indifference to the plight of indigenous cultures.
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Abstract

In a world of increasingly fluid boundaries, public and private managers often face ethical challenges that cross familiar geographical and cultural lines. This disguised case recounts the experience of a chemical engineer from Brazil who crosses gender lines to forge a successful career in the masculine world of the Latin American petrochemical industry. The central focus of the case is a project to construct a pipeline in Ecuador to carry crude oil from Indian territories in the Amazon to a delivery point on the Pacific coast. Because of her business acumen and skill in working with representatives of a multinational consortium, the protagonist becomes a project leader for her company - taking on managerial responsibilities even while being denied a managerial title. Her work goes well, until she decides to visit one of the Indian communities whose way of life is being disrupted by the pipeline project. The dramatic encounter with tribal members - including the ritual drinking of traditional chicha - produces a crisis of conscience that leads her to wonder whether her professional ambitions require willful indifference to the plight of indigenous cultures.

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