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Responsibility

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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.

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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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
  • 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

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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
  • 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: 26 Mar 2015

  • Topic: Responsibility
  • Region: Global

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Abstract:
This exercise helps students learn about and develop first-hand insights into the pros and cons of commonly employed approaches for causal inference and impact assessment. It involves analyzing data on effects of a hypothetical training programme using five approaches: cross-sectional comparison, pre-post comparison, difference-in-differences, matched sample analysis and randomized evaluation.

Pedagogical Objectives:
This exercise can be used for different audiences/purposes. The first is to teach students and practioners to think rigorously about evaluating the societal impact of their interventions. The second is to teach PhD students and researchers how to come up with appropriate empirical research designs for causal inference.

Keywords:
Social Impact Assessment, Program Evaluation, Causal Inference, Randomized Control Trials, Economic Development, Social Entrepreneurship, Impact Investing, Corporate Social Responsibility

published: 25 Aug 2014

  • Topic: Responsibility
  • Industry: Palm oil, healthcare
  • Region: Global

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Abstract:
This case explores the events leading to the creating of a multi-stakeholder platform, the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO). The promotion of palm oil as an alternative to fossil fuels has increased demand, hence the “palm oil dilemma”: to produce oil more sustainably or save the forests? The ability to respond to NGOs and the additional cost of certified palm oil are some of the future challenges facing the RSPO.

Pedagogical Objectives:
The case is designed to explore: • The life-cycle impacts of the production of palm oil • The social and environmental trade-offs involved • The development dilemmas faced by emerging economies • The logic behind the creation of ‘green clubs’ • How reputational value is created or destroyed - in individual organizations and in coalitions such as the RSPO • The rationale for certification and eco-label schemes.

Keywords:
Palm Oil Production, Production and Operations Management, Value Chain, Sustainability, Green Clubs, Eco-Activism, Voluntary Environmental Initiatives, Greenpeace

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: 28 Apr 2014

  • Topic: Responsibility
  • Industry: Media
  • Region: Europe

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Abstract:
Over fifty years, Rupert Murdoch built one of the most successful media conglomerates in the world. Though there had been criticism of his conduct in the past, it was only in the new millennium that allegations of phone hacking and bribery brought the threat of massive legal action against both Murdoch and his companies.

Pedagogical Objectives:
1. To explore the leadership characteristics of Rupert Murdoch as the head of one of the world’s most successful media conglomerates and in the context of charges of unethical and illegal conduct. 2. To examine the causes of the misconduct and the extent to which it can be attributed to “bad apples” (individuals) versus “bad barrels” (organizational factors) and Murdoch’s leadership of News Corp. 3. To examine responsible leadership in business – what is required of the responsible business leader?

Keywords:
Business Ethics, Responsible Leadership, Corporate Social Responsibility, Leadership, Bribery, Media, Phone Hacking, Journalistic Ethics, Corporate Governance, Auditing, Risk Control and Performance, Wicfe, Governance, Parallel Planning, Strategy, Boards

published: 24 Mar 2014

  • Topic: Responsibility
  • Industry: Engineering and Construction
  • Region: Asia

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Abstract:
Case A offers an overview and Case B explores specific aspects of a major Indian construction firm which seeks to use corporate social responsibility as a strategic tool in its quest for rapid growth at home and abroad. Source materials include on-site interviews of the firm’s executives, line managers and workers in Delhi, Mumbai and Lavasa, as well as corporate reports, scholarly articles, and domestic and international press articles.

Pedagogical Objectives:
How can corporate social responsibility contribute to the profitability of a firm? More than 60 years after the concept of CSR first emerged, examples remain sparse and it has been frequently cited as a defensive strategy to protect a firm’s reputation or license to operate (Vogel, 2005). On the positive side, it is claimed that CSR strengthens a firm’s ability to compete for and retain superior talent (McElhaney, 2009). Porter and Kramer (2011) argue that CSR can create “shared value” through reconceiving products and markets and by redefining productivity in the value chain. The HCC case suggests significant nuances and new additions to these known/projected benefits.

Keywords:
Hindustan Construction Company (hcc), India, Engineering and Construction (e&c), Corporate Social Responsibility, Disaster Relief, Infrastructure

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