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Strategically Integrating Environmental and Human Components into the Cost-Benefit Analysis Using the Triple Bottom Line Multiplier

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2017 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Columbus, Ohio

Publication Date

June 24, 2017

Start Date

June 24, 2017

End Date

June 28, 2017

Conference Session

Engineering Social and Human Ethical Impacts

Tagged Division

Engineering Ethics

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Paper Authors


L. Eric James University of Southern Maine

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Prof. James served as Associate Vice President for Research at the South Dakota School of Mines & Technology where he was responsible for all aspects of research administration. He converted an Office of Technology Transfer into an Office of Economic Development and employed a student-staffed Stage-Gate Process. After leaving SDSM&T he worked as a Manager for Huron Consulting supporting their Higher Education and Research Services Practice. Prof. James left Huron in 2016 to become one of the Principals of the Maine Regulatory, Training, and Ethics Center (MeRTEC) and Coordinator of Student, Industry, & International Partnerships at the University of Southern Maine where he now a Research Professor in the School of Business, teaching Business & Legal Ethics as well as Organizational Behavior and has been developing new courses which will form the basis of their graduate certificate in regulatory compliance and ethics.

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Alexander Curry Smith University of Southern Maine

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Graduate Assistant at the University of Southern Maine pursuing an MBA.

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Engineering educators often use the utilitarian cost-based analysis tool as a means of teaching ethical problem solving. This tool is attractive to engineering students as it is a mathematics based method for analyzing an ethical issue. This method often underestimates the human factor in the cost and benefit equations as the "human" factor is hard to quantify.

This paper builds on the three domain model of corporate responsibility to translate elements from the triple-bottom line theory to create a multiplier that can be used to more accurately quantify effects to the environment and humanity as part of the cost-benefit analysis. A familiar manufacturing case, the Ford Pinto case, is used to illustrate how the new multiplier may be incorporated to more accurately reflect humanitarian and environmental costs in a cost-benefit analysis.

James, L. E., & Smith, A. C. (2017, June), Strategically Integrating Environmental and Human Components into the Cost-Benefit Analysis Using the Triple Bottom Line Multiplier Paper presented at 2017 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Columbus, Ohio. 10.18260/1-2--28851

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