May 04, 2006

Pittance as Penalty for Plagiarism!



Story from BBC NEWS:
"The head of one of America's largest defence firms has lost out on his annual pay rise following accusations of plagiarism....Raytheon's board has cancelled William Swanson's 2006 increase after a management guide he wrote was found to include parts of an earlier book...His pamphlet "Unwritten Rules of Management" was discovered to include passages from a 1944 publication... The decision to withhold Mr Swanson's annual pay rise and reduce his potential 2006 stock options by 20% was made by the Raytheon board".

"In 2005, Mr Swanson received a basic salary of $1.1m (£597,000) plus a $2.6m bonus.
He also received 75,000 restricted Raytheon shares, worth $3.37m at the current stock price".

"Raytheon, the world's fifth largest defence company, is best known for making the Tomahawk cruise missile".


That is a pittance in remuneration for the misdeed committed, and by whom! The CEO of the fifth largest defence company, a role model to many, and surely one with a daunting resume brimming over with degrees from prestigious institutes of learning, what would have made him resort to these cheap tactics? Swanson could just as well have hired someone to do it! Did he really believe he wouldn't be caught, or was it plain and simple oversight and therefore unintentional? Were his writing skills in doubt that he had to prove himself, or was he an aspiring writer and this his covert maiden venture? Was the 'management guide' up for sale, and the profits from it worth a fortune? Being who he is, what made Swanson do what he did?

Furthermore how does Swanson get off the hook so easily? How come there isn't much furore over this copying? Is plagiarism less of a crime in corporate america than it is in academia? Is Vishwananthan, a 19 year old student at Harvard, expected to be more cognizant about plagiarism than the CEO of a multinational company who draws a few millions as annual earning? Will Swanson, the CEO of Raytheon, lose as much personl credibility due to this misdemeanour as did Kaavya, the 19 year old student at Harvard? Will both these violations be weighed in the same pan of justice, or do different rules apply?

If different rules apply, then why?

12 comments:

Mr. J said...

looks like the more money one has the more differently they are judged.. hmmm

Invincible said...

if you are the CEO of the company, its pretty easy to tweak decision in ur favour. and look at his pay package, $3.7m(pay + bonus) ! i would advice all his future hikes be frozen and his shares dissolved.
Hasn't the original book's publisher dragged Mr. Swanson to court?

Dr. Deborah Serani said...

My head is starting to hurt! There are certainly issues of power, gender and race operating if you ask me. This plagiarism thing is really a bad thing. We are using the internet to check papers to be sure they haven't been lifted in the grad department.

OK, heading for some advil now.

~Deb

karmic_jay said...

As the good Dr. mentioned issues of power, race gender are clearly at play.
I would aslo like to offer some typical snark (wingnut style)
"At a time when our nation is at war, Mr.Swanson is one of it's lead soldiers. Raytheon makes many of the weapons that are being used effectively to eliminate terrorists around the world. They are an important part of this nations arsenal. Punishsing Mr.Swanson any more would seriously affect Raytheon and our war on terror."
Kavya on the other hand just wrote a chicklit novel...

sahibi said...

gud to read this one, if all law is same for everyone i guess both shuld meet the same fate but i think (im getting partial here) kaavya has a carrer ahead of her,and chucking her out of harvard is too big a punishment.

lash said...

i guess enuff has been done to ms.vishwanathan and its high time ppl move on cos Megan and KV have both decided to move on.

Its the media, which is sufferin from Acute News Drought, that is not letting the issue die. a month ago they were busy hailing her and now busy gathering acrimony for her.. after all she was jus 17 when she did it and we can always give her a second chance. seriously the developments of late is earnign her more sympathy i guess. All for Good!

EXSENO said...

Different rules,always has been that way and always will be. I won't say that it applies every single time but for the most part, yes.

Hermit Chords said...

Ethics: so difficult to articulate the whys of it. The plaigarist is an unhappy person, whether copycat or CEO. I think it's the enourmous pressure to succeed, to be recognized, that drives one to these things...

If it didn't really matter whether you're a famous writer with a $500k advance or not, then perhaps you'd write simple because you wanted to. And then, in that search for meaning and expression, why would you plaigirise?

In the CEO's case, one anyway agrees that there's no beauty in what he does. In a copycat writer's case, it's more annoying, the pettiness of it...

Wild Reeds said...

You are right. Different rules apply. Because some people are "more equal" than others :-)

SR said...

While there definitely seem to be some gender issues at play, there is also the issue of the different backgrounds from which the two "plagiarizers" are coming.
Ms. V is part of an academic university and thus coming from academia. Mr. Swanson, on the other hand, is coming from corporate America. Academics are held to higher standards, largely because they hold themselves to higher standards. That has been, at least in the past, a large part of the reason that academics are given so much respect - they are far more critical of themselves than anyone else. A case in point is the Honor Code that this blog referred to earlier.
Corporate employees and bosses, on the other hand, were NEVER considered to be honest and scrupulous in the same way. They are not given the same sort of respect given to academics - we have large governmental agencies in place to police their actions (SEC is the one that immediately comes to mind). Therefore, plagiarism and any other such unprincipled actions from a corporate CEO seem almost commonplace. However, coming from someone at a prestigious university like Harvard, plagiarism is entirely surprising.
I think that is part of why Ms. V got so much more of a media chewing-out than Mr. Swanson. Of course, while her gender (and perhaps even her race) may have had something to do with it, their different backgrounds, I feel, are the main reason that their rather similar actions were treated so differently.
-SR

opinionatedinjerzee said...

thing is that.. maybe Harvard considered her only because she had a novel out or was about to...the Swanson guy, did he already have that position when he plagerized?

Id it is said...

opinionatedinjerzee,
Swanson was CEO when he plagiarized, however Kaavya's acceptance to Harvard came before she signed her book deal.