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Case Studies by N. Craig Smith

24 case studies

by Publication Date
published: 28 May 2018

  • Topic: Responsibility
  • Industry: Automotive
  • Region: Global

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Abstract:
The case is a detailed ‘inside’ account of the ‘dieselgate’ scandal at Volkswagen which revealed how engineers had programmed software that enabled its cars to cheat emissions tests. It explores the origins of internal and external forces that propelled the company to market environmentally sustainable “clean diesel” cars while using engine management software to conceal on-the-road emissions of over 40 times the permitted levels. The scandal - one of the biggest of the decade – illustrates contributing factors that are common to many instances of organizational misconduct: obedience to authority, organizational culture, goal-setting, and corporate governance.

Pedagogical Objectives:
1. To understand how ethical and social responsibility issues arise in business at the level of the individual, the organization, and society. 2. To identify and analyse the individual and organizational factors that give rise to organizational misconduct. 3. To consider how such factors can be mitigated, and the implications for responsible business leadership, organizational design, and corporate governance. 4. To discuss corporate hypocrisy – how an organization with a reputation for engineering excellence could market “clean diesel” cars and programme them to cheat emissions tests. 5. To explore the industry and societal consequences of organizational misconduct by a major player in the automotive industry. 6. To consider the role of rationalisations in justifying misconduct by individuals. 7. To apply the fraud triangle framework to explore risks of organizational misconduct. 8. To discuss effective crisis-management responses.

Keywords:
Environmental Responsibility, Organizational Misconduct, Vehicle Emissions, Sustainability, Corporate Social Responsibility, Business Ethics, Organizational Culture, Leadership, Green Marketing, Volkswagen, Automotive Industry, Pollution, Fraud Triangle, Crisis Management

Prizes won:
- Second Prize in the Corporate Sustainability track of oikos Case Writing Competition 2018

published: 28 May 2018

  • Topic: Responsibility
  • Industry: IT, Healthcare
  • Region: Middle-East

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Abstract:
Recent MBA graduate Majed finds his dream job: high-tech, entrepreneurial, senior, social – contributing to the economy of Palestine, a cause close to his heart. But the new CEO of WebTeb, an online medical information service in Arabic, finds it more challenging than expected. Recruiting IT talent in Palestine is particularly tough. Eventually, his team finds an android developer to help them launch, but then comes a fateful phone call. Majed has infringed an unwritten policy of Palestinian tech companies – never to poach each other’s employees. The rationale behind this is to keep wages low and thus boost an industry with potential to transform the local economy. The injured party, an IT outsourcing company, asks Majed to rescind the offer. If he refuses, they threaten to put WebTeb out of business by offering better salaries to his entire web-development team. Case B shows how Majed resolves the dilemma.

Pedagogical Objectives:
1. To show how MBA graduates may be exposed to real-life ethical dilemmas right after business school, even in a social entrepreneurship context. 2. To demonstrate that an apparently simple ethical challenge is not as black and white as it might at first seem. 3. To explore whether “stability and order” or “economic growth” can ever justify controlling a market (especially a job market) and wage cartels, and by extension, whether “the end justifies the means”? 4. To explore the interplay between ethical principles and cultural/social/political context. 5. To discuss doing business in Palestine and developing economies in general – particularly the idea that wealth generation through business could hold the long-term solution to apparently intractable social and political problems. 6. To demonstrate the convergence between good ethical behaviour and good management.

Keywords:
Business Ethics, Palestine, Ethical Dilemma, Labour Market Controls, Wage Cartels, Web Development, Technology Skills, Free Market, Health Website, Means and Ends, Developing Economy, Mba, Social Entrepreneurship, Human Resources Management

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published: 28 May 2018

  • Topic: Responsibility
  • Industry: IT, Healthcare
  • Region: Middle-East

Show details ...

Abstract:
Recent MBA graduate Majed finds his dream job: high-tech, entrepreneurial, senior, social – contributing to the economy of Palestine, a cause close to his heart. But the new CEO of WebTeb, an online medical information service in Arabic, finds it more challenging than expected. Recruiting IT talent in Palestine is particularly tough. Eventually, his team finds an android developer to help them launch, but then comes a fateful phone call. Majed has infringed an unwritten policy of Palestinian tech companies – never to poach each other’s employees. The rationale behind this is to keep wages low and thus boost an industry with potential to transform the local economy. The injured party, an IT outsourcing company, asks Majed to rescind the offer. If he refuses, they threaten to put WebTeb out of business by offering better salaries to his entire web-development team. Case B shows how Majed resolves the dilemma.

Pedagogical Objectives:
1. To show how MBA graduates may be exposed to real-life ethical dilemmas right after business school, even in a social entrepreneurship context. 2. To demonstrate that an apparently simple ethical challenge is not as black and white as it might at first seem. 3. To explore whether “stability and order” or “economic growth” can ever justify controlling a market (especially a job market) and wage cartels, and by extension, whether “the end justifies the means”? 4. To explore the interplay between ethical principles and cultural/social/political context. 5. To discuss doing business in Palestine and developing economies in general – particularly the idea that wealth generation through business could hold the long-term solution to apparently intractable social and political problems. 6. To demonstrate the convergence between good ethical behaviour and good management.

Keywords:
Business Ethics, Palestine, Ethical Dilemma, Labour Market Controls, Wage Cartels, Web Development, Technology Skills, Free Market, Health Website, Means and Ends, Developing Economy, Mba, Social Entrepreneurship, Human Resources Management

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published: 29 May 2017

  • Topic: Responsibility
  • Industry: Pharmaceutical
  • Region: North America

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Abstract:
This case examines how a drug price increase by one small company, Turing Pharmaceuticals, became the focal point of a controversy that engulfed the entire drug industry. Turing’s decision to raise the price of its anti-infection drug Daraprim, from $13.50 to $750 per dose, is emblematic of the debate about the responsibilities of pharmaceutical companies and business more generally. The case asks: Do pharmaceutical executives have a responsibility to patients when setting drug prices, or are they beholden only to their shareholders? More broadly, what are the responsibilities of companies to shareholders relative to other stakeholders? And what role should be taken by public policy makers in this domain? While set primarily in the United States, the case raises questions of corporate social responsibility and public policy for the global healthcare industry and business more generally. It provides an opportunity to explore the potentially conflicting demands of shareholders and stakeholders, the limits of industry self-regulation and the need for government-imposed price controls, notably in the context of patent monopolies.

Pedagogical Objectives:
1. To explore the nature of corporate social responsibility and its role in business decision-making, especially when the interests of different stakeholders are potentially in conflict. 2. To debate the responsibilities of pharmaceutical companies and other firms providing lifesaving products and services in relation to decisions about price and profitability. 3. How managers can strike a balance between obligations to different stakeholders, applying considerations of profitability, social responsibility, moral obligation, protecting corporate reputation and enlightened self-interest in the context of a life-threatening human need. 4. To identify the limits to corporate social responsibility in answer to the question: How much is enough? 5. To discuss how industries can police themselves, and the role of public policy interventions and industry regulation when they cannot. 6. To highlight the new challenges posed by public dissatisfaction with questionable company practices as expressed via social media, and the implications for business.

Keywords:
Corporate Social Responsibility (csr), Stakeholders, Shareholder Primacy Norm, Drug Prices, Fairness in Pricing, Price Gouging, Government Regulation, Industry Self-Regulation, Patent Monopolies, Industry Reputation, Social Media, Pharmaceutical Industry, Valeant Pharmaceuticals

published: 29 May 2017

  • Topic: Responsibility
  • Industry: Public transportation/Taxi
  • Region: Global

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Abstract:
This case explores the changes wrought by the “sharing economy”, examining the innovations and controversies surrounding the online ride-hailing service Uber. It provides a unique overview of the challenges posed by new business models like Uber’s, which use the internet to link individual providers of goods and services to customers. Raising significant economic, social and environmental sustainability issues, it asks: what are the responsibilities of “sharing economy” companies? More specifically, are they merely “technological platforms” facilitating transactions for private individuals or do they have the same responsibilities as real-world companies such as transportation businesses, hotels and employment agencies?

Pedagogical Objectives:
1. To explore the societal changes brought about by the “sharing economy” model and examine the role of corporate social responsibility and sustainability in developing that new economy. 2. To examine the difficulty of defining the “sharing economy” and explore how various possible definitions influence such companies’ responsibilities and how they are regulated. 3. To facilitate discussion of issues such as labour relations and regulatory oversight of companies created by emerging technologies. 4. To explore the potential for greater sustainability through the adoption of “sharing economy” business models. 5. To encourage discussion of positive and negative strategies that technology companies can use to engage with regulators when introducing new platforms and business models.

Keywords:
Sharing Economy, Sustainability, Corporate Social Responsibility, Digital Economy, Digital Disruption, New Business Models, Labour Rights, Consumer Safety, Business Regulation, Taxi Companies, Corporate Governance, Investors, Stakeholders and Accountability

Prizes won:
- Second Prize in the Corporate Sustainability track of oikos Case Writing Competition 2017

published: 26 Aug 2016

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Abstract:
When a Greenpeace campaign to boycott PVC products seemed to spell disaster for Hydro Polymers, it embraced the challenge and embarked on a drive for sustainability using The Natural Step framework. The strategy was maintained after Hydro was acquired by INEOS, and ultimately led to significant changes throughout Europe's PVC industry. The case shows how positioning sustainability as a business opportunity rather than a threat can yield substantial commercial success while addressing environmental impacts.
Please visit the dedicated case website to access supplementary material.

Pedagogical Objectives:
1) Highlight the business value of adopting a scientific, structured, whole-systems approach to sustainability as applied by The Natural Step. 2) Illustrate an innovative, integrated and strategic response to the challenges of sustainability at organizational and industry level. 3) Understand the value of embedding sustainability in business practice and the implications for corporate strategy and marketing.

Keywords:
Sustainability, Corporate Social Responsibility, Pvc, The Natural Step, Greenpeace, Carbon Neutrality, Recycling, Systemic Change, Corporate Governance, Value Creation, Strategy and Implementation

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published: 26 Aug 2016

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Abstract:
When a Greenpeace campaign to boycott PVC products seemed to spell disaster for Hydro Polymers, it embraced the challenge and embarked on a drive for sustainability using The Natural Step framework. The strategy was maintained after Hydro was acquired by INEOS, and ultimately led to significant changes throughout Europe's PVC industry. The case shows how positioning sustainability as a business opportunity rather than a threat can yield substantial commercial success while addressing environmental impacts.
Please visit the dedicated case website to access supplementary material.

Pedagogical Objectives:
1) Highlight the business value of adopting a scientific, structured, whole-systems approach to sustainability as applied by The Natural Step. 2) Illustrate an innovative, integrated and strategic response to the challenges of sustainability at organizational and industry level. 3) Understand the value of embedding sustainability in business practice and the implications for corporate strategy and marketing.

Keywords:
Sustainability, Corporate Social Responsibility, Pvc, The Natural Step, Greenpeace, Carbon Neutrality, Recycling, Systemic Change, Corporate Governance, Value Creation, Strategy and Implementation

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published: 28 Oct 2015

  • Topic: Responsibility
  • Industry: Healthcare: Emergency Medical Services
  • Region: Asia

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Abstract:
Sweta Mangal, CEO of Ziqitza Health Care Limited, must decide how to respond to a government official who has demanded a bribe to release payment for the ambulance services ZHL provides. Bribery is commonplace in India, but there is also a growing anti-corruption movement. A new employee argues that the bribe is the only way for ZHL to make payroll and maintain its ambulances, which means more lives saved. Mangal insists that ZHL is committed to an anti-bribery stance. What is the right decision? How can it best be implemented?

Pedagogical Objectives:
1. To examine bribery - its distinguishing characteristics, different forms, the ethics involved , and the anti-bribery movement - as well as corporate responses to demands for bribes. 2. To highlight for social enterprises the importance of the means ('how it is done') as well as the ends in creating social as well as economic value.

Keywords:
Bribery, Corruption, Business Ethics, Social Enterprise, Social Entrepreneurship, India, Healthcare, Corporate Social Responsibility.

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published: 29 Jun 2015

  • Topic: Responsibility
  • Industry: Pharmaceutical
  • Region: Global

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Abstract:
In 2012, GlaxoSmithKline negotiated the largest health-fraud settlement to date with the U.S. Government over allegations of off-label marketing, bribing doctors, and failure to report drug safety problems. As well as the $3 billion settlement, GSK signed a five-year Corporate Integrity Agreement, which included corrective measures in sales and marketing practices.

Pedagogical Objectives:
1. To demonstrate the value of healthcare compliance management. 2. To explore challenges to effective compliance implementation, including the role of leadership and company culture. 3. To examine the tensions that can exist between sales goals and salesforce management practices that are consistent with corporate ethics, compliance and the long-term reputation of the firm.

Keywords:
Healthcare Compliance, Pharmaceutical Industry, Off-Label Marketing, Product Safety, Whistleblowers, Ethics, Salesforce Management, Corporate Reputation

published: 29 Jun 2015

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Abstract:
This exciting case is about a whistle-blower who exposes bribery and corruption in defence contracting in the Middle East. Sebastian is hired to manage a $3.25 billion military contract, but must figure out what to do when he realises his company is paying bribes to local officials.
Please visit the dedicated case website to access supplementary material.

Pedagogical Objectives:
The case is designed to help students think strategically about how to uphold their values in the face of strong pressure to go along with the status quo in a context of bribery and corruption. It invites them to explore how they might assess and mitigate the risks of standing up for their beliefs.

Keywords:
Defence Industry, Bribery, Corruption, Giving Voice to Values, Middle East, Ethics, Whistle-Blowers, Values

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