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Responsibility

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published: 26 Mar 2015

  • Topic: Responsibility
  • Industry: Investment banking
  • Region: Europe

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Abstract:
Costly Train Journey (A) tells the story of an MBA student who on graduation started an investment banking job in the City. He was successful in his first few years but commuting into London he continued to dodge the train fare until he was caught by ticket inspectors. He was asked to pay £43,000 in avoided fares or face prosecution. Costly Train Journey (B) reveals that the (A) case is based loosely on the experience of Jonathan Burrows a Managing Director at Blackrock Asset Management. Investigated by the Financial Conduct Authority, Burrows was judged to have failed its "fit and proper" test and banned from working in financial services.

Pedagogical Objectives:
1) To examine the conduct expected of investment bankers and other business professionals, on and off the job. 2) To consider the appropriateness of punishment for misconduct in a non-work context. 3) To explore business ethics more generally, including arguments for and against ethical relativism.

Keywords:
Personal Misconduct, Financial Conduct Authority, Investment Banking, Business Ethics, Ethical Relativism, Sanctions for Misconduct, Train Fare Dodger, Fit and Proper Test, Corporate Governance, Auditing, Risk Control and Performance

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published: 26 Mar 2015

  • Topic: Responsibility
  • Industry: Investment banking
  • Region: Europe

Show details ...

Abstract:
Costly Train Journey (A) tells the story of an MBA student who on graduation started an investment banking job in the City. He was successful in his first few years but commuting into London he continued to dodge the train fare until he was caught by ticket inspectors. He was asked to pay £43,000 in avoided fares or face prosecution. Costly Train Journey (B) reveals that the (A) case is based loosely on the experience of Jonathan Burrows a Managing Director at Blackrock Asset Management. Investigated by the Financial Conduct Authority, Burrows was judged to have failed its "fit and proper" test and banned from working in financial services.

Pedagogical Objectives:
1) To examine the conduct expected of investment bankers and other business professionals, on and off the job. 2) To consider the appropriateness of punishment for misconduct in a non-work context. 3) To explore business ethics more generally, including arguments for and against ethical relativism.

Keywords:
Personal Misconduct, Financial Conduct Authority, Investment Banking, Business Ethics, Ethical Relativism, Sanctions for Misconduct, Train Fare Dodger, Fit and Proper Test, Corporate Governance, Auditing, Risk Control and Performance

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published: 25 Jun 2018

  • Topic: Responsibility
  • Region: Global

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Abstract:
A manager finds out that a new member of his team has a mental disability: she cannot function well under tight deadlines. HR knew of the disability, but did not inform the manager. Should HR disclose critical performance-related background information when it relates to a disability? How should one manage teams in which some members have disabilities that affect others?

Pedagogical Objectives:
Illustrate ethical challenges that arise in the modern workplace, notably those related to mental disabilities.

Keywords:
Ethics, Disability, Hr, Human Resources, Mental Health

published: 26 May 2015

  • Topic: Responsibility
  • Region: Asia

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Abstract:
Aarong, the retail arm of BRAC, a non-profit development organization based in Bangladesh, was created in 1978 to provide employment, income generation and social development opportunities for underprivileged women through the revival and promotion of Bangladeshi handicrafts. Profits from Aarong were used to extend such opportunities to more low-income producers and to cross-subsidize BRAC programmes for the poor. In 30 years, from a single shop, Aarong had grown into one of Bangladesh’s biggest retail chains. Its products ranged from clothing, household items, gifts and fashion accessories to children’s toys. The competition, however, was intensifying, both from local retailers in individual categories as well as foreign players, such as from India. How could Aarong compete in a global market? How could it leverage the brand, improve quality to match machine-made consistency, and keep prices competitive, while maintaining its social mission?

Pedagogical Objectives:
The case highlights the challenges of building a social enterprise that harnesses the labor and skills of the poor to provide them with a sustainable livelihood while creating value for consumers and the enterprise. Specifically, how does Aarong reconcile the need to raise wage rates to provide a sustainable livelihood in an ever more expensive world, while changing tastes and mores reduce (or at least flatten) the consumer's willingness to pay.

Keywords:
Retailing, Social Innovation, Social Enterprise, Competitive Positioning, Bangladesh, Emerging Markets, Differentiation, Social Responsibility

published: 26 Mar 2015

  • Topic: Responsibility
  • Region: Asia

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Abstract:
BASIX, headquartered in Hyderabad, was the brand name of a group of entities with 6,000 outlets offering financial and livelihood promotion services throughout rural India. Despite its impressive progress in poverty alleviation, raising funds to continue such work was increasingly challenging, as BASIX found when it sought to raise Rs 2.5 billion in capital from private equity investors in late 2010. Not only did the diffuse nature of its work make valuation complex (the standard method would have been to take the sum of its parts and add a premium for the synergies between the entities using the discounted cash flow method ), but investors preferred simpler business models where the service/goods sold broadly met the same set of needs. One that met such diverse needs and spread across so many sectors was harder to figure out, as well as harder to scale up, making investment less attractive. Without scale it was hard to get capital; without capital it was hard to scale up. The question that BASIX is grappling with is how best to position itself going forward.

Pedagogical Objectives:
The case highlights the challenges of building a social enterprise in the context of microfinance. It makes the point that without a complete solution that deals with all the aspects of poverty, the impact of microfinance is limited. Conversely, providing a complete solution creates organizational complexity, making it hard to assess exposure to risk and potential profitability - and thus more difficult to raise capital.

Keywords:
Microfinance, Social Innovation, Social Enterprise, Competitive Positioning, India, Emerging Markets, Differentiation, Social Responsibility

published: 31 Oct 2011

  • Topic: Responsibility
  • Industry: Energy
  • Region: Global

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Abstract:
The announcement that BP PLC, the world's third-largest oil firm, was going "beyond petroleum" generated scepticism from news media, indifference from investors, and outraged opposition from environmentalists in 2000. When BP's Alaska employees raised safety and environmental concerns in 2002, stakeholder groups, news media and regulators were drawn into the conflict.

Pedagogical Objectives:
This case demonstrates how the dynamics of stakeholder activism and influence have changed as a consequence of the emergence of stakeholder-controlled media. These follow different rules and objectives from conventional news media, and their influence on management strategies may be decisive. Participants should gain awareness of the operating principles of these new forces, and how they impact corporate social responsibility in particular.

Keywords:
Bp, Beyond Petroleum, Greenpeace, Financial Times, Arctic National Wildlife Reserve, Corporate Social Responsibility, Environmentalism, Climate Change, Corporate Governance, Board Process and Remuneration at the Top

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published: 31 Oct 2011

  • Topic: Responsibility
  • Industry: Energy
  • Region: Global

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Abstract:
The announcement that BP PLC, the world's third-largest oil firm, was going "beyond petroleum" generated scepticism from news media, indifference from investors, and outraged opposition from environmentalists in 2000. When BP's Alaska employees raised safety and environmental concerns in 2002, stakeholder groups, news media and regulators were drawn into the conflict.

Pedagogical Objectives:
This case demonstrates how the dynamics of stakeholder activism and influence have changed as a consequence of the emergence of stakeholder-controlled media. These follow different rules and objectives from conventional news media, and their influence on management strategies may be decisive. Participants should gain awareness of the operating principles of these new forces, and how they impact corporate social responsibility in particular.

Keywords:
Bp, Beyond Petroleum, Greenpeace, Financial Times, Arctic National Wildlife Reserve, Corporate Social Responsibility, Environmentalism, Climate Change, Corporate Governance, Board Process and Remuneration at the Top

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published: 28 Mar 2012

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

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Abstract:
This case tells the story of Bank of America, a single cog in the financial machine that survived a major crisis in 2008, though its repercussions continue to be felt in the industry and in the global economy more generally. The mechanics of the financial crisis are examined as well as the part played by Bank of America and Merrill Lynch. While seemingly better positioned than its competitors and able to acquire Merrill Lynch, Bank of America leaders engaged in a number of questionable practices that brought it under ethical and then legal scrutiny.

Pedagogical Objectives:
1. To examine causes of the financial crisis and the role of investment banks, more specifically. 2. To examine the ethical issues associated with the Merrill Lynch acquisition by Bank of America. 3. To explore the culture and compensation systems of investment banks and the scope for increased control over their activities while retaining their legitimate role in risk taking. 4. To explore the regulatory solutions put in place and the scope for banks themselves to curb excessive risk taking.

Keywords:
Ethics, Financial Crisis, Investment Banking, Banking Regulation, Bank of America, Merrill Lynch, Countrywide Financial, Corporate Governance, Investors, Stakeholders and Accountability

published: 23 Jun 2014

  • Topic: Responsibility
  • Industry: Gold mining
  • Region: South America

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Abstract:
This case is about a gold mining company that seeks to practice “responsible mining” by addressing environmental and stakeholder concerns, but which nevertheless attracts protests. Barrick Gold Corporation has invested $4.8 billion developing the Pascua Lama gold mine in a glacial region of South America, but opposition has blocked the project.

Pedagogical Objectives:
The case allows students to examine a situation where CSR and sustainability may seem in conflict with the core business operations of the company, and challenges them to develop creative solutions. It introduces the concept of having a 'social license to operate' and explores how much societal acceptance is needed.

Keywords:
Gold Mining, License to Operate, Sustainability, Stakeholder Engagement, Enviromentalism, Indigenous Peoples, Corporate Social Responsibility, Responsible Mining

Prizes won:
- Runner Up at 2014 Oikos Case Writing Competition, Corporate Sustainability Category

published: 26 Jul 2019

  • Topic: Responsibility
  • Region: Africa

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Abstract:
This case puts participants in the shoes of the directors of Barry Callebaut (BC), a cocoa-sourcing and chocolate manufacturing company. Chairman Andreas Jacobs is passionate about cocoa sustainability in West Africa – ensuring the cocoa crop (endangered by poor farming and climate change) and the farmers who grow it will survive and thrive. However, in response to a falling share price, the BC board has shifted strategy to achieve cost leadership. Moreover, customers have been unwilling to pay a premium for sustainable cocoa beans. Given the scale of the problem, the company cannot ‘go it alone’. Nonetheless, when the CEO steps down in 2008, Jacobs sees an opportunity for BC to embrace sustainability and urges the board to go beyond goodwill gestures – like its earlier building of schools in Ivory Coast – and take “real action”. Should the board follow his lead? What would “real action” mean?

Pedagogical Objectives:
1. How business should be involved in sustainability and the challenges involved in taking real, impactful action (not simply paying lip-service). 2. Consider sustainability challenges in the context of business challenges – seen through the eyes of the board – and the role of the board in driving sustainability initiatives. 3. Evaluate the extent to which board members should follow the lead of a strong chairman pursuing a personal passion. 4. Identify solutions to the sustainability challenges faced by Barry Callebaut.

Keywords:
Sustainability, Corporate Governance, Boards, Cocoa, Chocolate, Supply Chains, Côte D’ivoire, Africa, Child Labour, Poverty

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