Case study: Ethical Decision Making in a Time of Crisis

Case study: Ethical Decision Making in a Time of Crisis: : Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern

Approx. word length:     1300 word minimum (without references)

Weighting:                       40%

Important: Read these guidelines along with the Marking Criteria.


The Covid-19 pandemic has brought worldwide disruption, illness, death, and economic disarray over the past two years. This has meant that political, business and health leaders have had to make complex decisions in what has been an unprecedented crisis in modern times. Decision making in a crisis has particular challenges and different leaders and countries have addressed these challenges in often contrasting ways.

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has received wide-spread coverage in world media over the past four and a half years since she came to power in October 2017. Ardern was described as possessing “solace and steel” after her response to the Christchurch mosque killings in March

2019. Later that year after the White Island eruption that killed 22 tourists she was again hailed world-wide for her disaster response.

The onset of the current Covid-19 world pandemic brought renewed focus on Ardern’s leadership as she led New Zealand into a time of lockdown well before the country’s metrics on the virus were at a contained level. Successfully leading through a crisis demands a certain skillset that Ardern has been argued to possess.  Over the past two years Ardern’s leadership has continued to receive global focus and is often not just compared but also contrasted with other leaders’ styles and approaches during the crisis.

Ardern has been argued to have given most western politicians a “masterclass in crisis leadership” and she has received accolades for her clear communication, her use of social media, and her empathy.

The task:

You are required to write an essay on:

  • ethical decision making;
  • effective leadership and management; and
  • communication during the Covid-19 global crisis.

Your essay should particularly reference the leadership of New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern as well as reference at LEAST ONE other world political or business leader.

Your essay should include THREE sections, to address the THREE above issues that are outlined in more detail below, in relation to the Covid-19 crisis:

Section 1: Decision making

Identify and examine the kinds of decisions, including ethical decisions, that governments, businesses, or organisation leaders need to make in a pandemic crisis, and critically evaluate the internal and external forces and stakeholders that influence these decisions.

You must discuss at least TWO decisions and at LEAST one of these must be an ethical decision.

Section 2: Leadership and Jacinda Ardern

Analyse and critically evaluate Jacinda Ardern’s leadership and decision-making during the crisis and how it fits, or does not fit, with theoretical management or leadership models.

Important note: You must include reference to at LEAST one other world leader in your discussion.

Section 3: Communication and Jacinda Ardern

Examine the importance of effective communication to stakeholder groups during a crisis including specific reference to Jacinda Ardern’s style and its effectiveness.

Important note: As above, refer to at LEAST one other world leader in your discussion for this section.

In your essay you need to:

  • illustrate your answers with specific examples;
  • use a range of academic supporting evidence in your essay as well as media articles;
  • Reference all sources correctly in APA 7th format;
  • Write analytically and critically; do not just describe what happens you must analyse why it happens and how it connects to relevant theory.

Resources: (Some media and journal articles are provided for you below – you will need to find others)

Section 1: Ethical decision making during a Pandemic

  1. Decision making during the covid-19 crisis_bias towards people
  2. Pandemic_Emergency ethics
  3. Ethical business decisions in covid era

Section 2: Jacinda Ardern’s leadership and decision-making during the COVID crisis

  1. A time for servant leadership
  2. Gender and political leadership
  3. Lessons from New Zealands approach
  4. New leaders
  5. Clumsy leadership or the right approach

Section 3: Effective communication during a crisis

  1. Winning the communications contest
  2. Masterclass in crisis leadership
  3. New Zealand leadership

Please note that if any of the above articles are used as references in your essay, they should be referenced in full APA 7th style.

Learning outcomes

  1. Examine the functions of effective management in a changing world.
  2. Critically evaluate internal and external forces and stakeholders that influence the management of organisations.
  3. Analyse the causes and consequences of management issues in organisations and recommend workable solutions that meet the needs of diverse groups of stakeholders.

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