Case Study 1


  • There is a disease-causing pathogen in the water
  • Chemical additives can make the water safe
  • Lesotho is a developing country
  • Many people are needed to conduct research

Issue: Are the researchers taking advantage of the community members if they choose not to compensate them for their help?

Stakeholders and Motivations:

  1. Researchers: clout, the personal need to make a difference, prestige, passion for Lesotho, professional pressure – they may not be doing it to actually make a difference in the people of Lesotho’s health, but see this difference as an extra benefit.
  2. Community members: they are motivated by the desire to be healthy, and maybe by the money they can earn
  3. Publishers: contribution to science, money, reputation – likely not to help the people of Lesotho
  4. Government: public safety, votes, tax payer money, good foreign relationships
  5. Sponsor: remain reputable, money is well spent, good record, clout
  6. Healthcare providers: medical knowledge, better care for community, they want the community members to be healthier

Our alternative solutions:

  1. Pay the community members for their time and resources (cash)
    1. ethical principle: duty based
    2. pros: motivation and willingness to help, good relationship
    3. cons: costly, taking money away from something else, difficulty ensuring fairness in pay
  2. Compensate community members in means other than cold hard cash (ex: food or dinner
    1. ethical principle:  virtue based
    2. pros: save money, don’t create reputation of having cash to give out
    3. cons: have to be creative, no calculation to know if you are being fair
  3.  No compensation
    1. ethical principle: consequence based
    2. pros: cheaper, maximize grant money
    3. people may not be motivated to help, bad relationship

Experience: During our fieldwork in Sierra Leone, we paid people for their time and resources. This was a motivating factor and people helped us get our research done.

Our Solution: Compensate with money and have a fair and clear contract (we value quality data Рand believe this is the best way to obtain data). This is best to minimize the risk of people feeling like they are (or actually are) being taken advantage of. If they are being paid a fair pay, which we will research and use to determine their rates, the community members will be more willing to help and the researchers will be getting the data that they need. If they are not being paid, they may choose to do something else that they would get compensated for, and the researchers would not accomplish their goal.

Implications: Direct compensation will motivate community members to help with the research project, and the project will get the quality data it needs more efficiently. There will be a good relationship between the community members and the foreigners. Additionally, paying the community members will not be that great of a cost to the researchers (to the point where it would make it not worth it to pay).
However, the risk of this approach is that people will think that foreigners will always pay them and this is a dangerous assumption. We do not want this to set a precedent for the future, and tie us down in any way. If they think that we will always pay them, and then we do not, this could ruin our relationship. We will work with employees to make our objectives clear from the get-go to prevent this from happening.

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