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 Case Study A 


A Head of Department in a Science Faculty of a University had a vacancy for a technical specialist.  He advertised the post and one of the few applicants was from a local Hi-Tech Industrial company.  The Head of Department had previously worked for the local company, which was paying him a retainer fee.  A manager of the company then approached the Department Head, his friend and former colleague, and asked him, off the record, not to recruit the technical specialist as he was much needed by the company.

Q1  What action would you advise the Head of Department to take?

Q2  What Human Rights issues (if any) do you see in this situation?

Q3  What legal implications, if any, arise from the payment of the retainer fee?

Notes on Case Study A

  • The Head of Department could (a) comply with the company manager's request and say nothing, (b) decline the request and still say nothing or (c) tell the potential recruit about the company manager's request.  Perhaps other responses are possible.

  • The Industrial company sought to override the choice made by the specialist and the methods it used featured

    (a) Boundary-crossing (e.g. the choice of the specialist to work in one organisation was to be subjected to interference by an external organisation),

    (b) the use of a network relationship (e.g. the interference was on a pal to pal basis between members of staff in the two organisations) and

    (c) Behind-the-scenes interference (e.g. the pal to pal arrangement was confidential and unrecorded).

  • The company may also have been attempting to use the leverage of the retainer fee.

  • In essence the company manager was requesting the Head of Department to put the company's interests above the interests of his employers, the University.


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