Posted by & filed under Uncategorized.

Co-founder Sergey Brin has been very outspoken about Google’s involvement in China and the company’s agreement to filter some search results there. The Russian-born Brin is familiar with state censorship and is a driving force behind Google’s “do no evil” mantra. The present article reviews some of the ethical issues associated with Google in China. [Note: this post is a companion piece to one posted in January relating Google’s China position to global management issues.]

QUESTIONS:

  1. While we typically think of values as individual, companies are made up of individuals and have values too. Often the values of founders are reflected by the companies they create. How does Sergey Brin’s experiences influence Google’s values? Is “Do no evil” a terminal or instrumental value? How does it influence Google’s actions? Which ethical view does it reflect?
  2. Google initially agreed to filter search results in China, but announced in January 2010 that it would stop doing so. Where would this latest decision fall on the scale of relativism vs. universalism?
  3. Brin’s position on China contradicts that of Google CEO Eric Schmidt. Where would you place Brin in terms of moral development? Why? Discuss how a company might behave if its founders/CEOs were at other levels of moral development.

SOURCE: B. Worthen, “Soviet-born Brin Has Shaped Google’s Stand on China,” Wall Street Journal (Retrievable online at http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748703447104575118092158730502.html)

Posted by & filed under Uncategorized.

Coca-Cola recently announced that it would acquire the bulk of its domestic bottler, Coca-Cola Enterprises, and eventually acquire selected European bottlers. The move reverses an earlier decision to continue working with independent bottlers. Coke cites changes in American consumers’ tastes and the need to have a more flexible distribution system to respond to those needs. The primary advantage seen from the deal is that it would allow Coke direct distribution to supermarkets and other large retailers and allow the company to compete more effectively with smaller bottled water companies.

QUESTIONS:

  1. Examine Figure 8.4. Create a SWOT analysis that would lead Coca-Cola to conclude that purchasing its bottler is a good strategic move. How will the purchase strengthen Coke?
  2. What growth/diversification strategy approach does the purchase of the bottler represent? Why, after nearly 25 years of working with independent bottlers, would Coca-Cola do this?
  3. Coke CEO Muhtar Kent previously told investors the company intended to continue using independent bottlers. More recently, he said the reversal of strategy had nothing to do with a similar move by competitor PepsiCo. How might strategic incrementalism explain the reversal?

SOURCE: B. McKay, “Coca-Cola Deal Marks Major Shift in U.S. Strategy,” Wall Street Journal (Retrievable online at http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704479404575087123562176374.html)

Related video clip:

Posted by & filed under Uncategorized.

A unique piece on graffiti art provides an excellent opportunity to address two main topics combined in Chapter 15. In 1985, graffiti artist Robbo established his legend with a classic rendition in London’s Camden District. More recently, upstart and commercial graffiti artist Banksy painted over the piece. Although retired (from graffiti) for more than a decade, the slight was enough to bring Robbo back to life. The father of two and legitimate shoe repairman sprang into action and began altering a number of Banksy pieces in retaliation. Robbo vows to continue the public fight between his old-school style and Banksy’s street style of graffiti.

QUESTIONS:

  1. Think about graffiti as a form of communication. Where does it stand in terms of channel richness? Aside from the attention this feud receives, how effective is graffiti as a form of communication?
  2. Characterize the type of conflict represented by the feud between Robbo and Banksy. What are its causes?
  3. What conflict management style is Robbo utilizing? Discuss some of the reasons that might lead to this choice. Is this likely to be an effective strategy?

SOURCE: G. Steinhauser, “A Game of Tag Breaks Out Between London’s Graffiti Elite,” Wall Street Journal (Retrievable online at http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748703795004575087043622126412.html)

Posted by & filed under Uncategorized.

Without doubt, a lot of behind-the-scenes work is necessary to pull off an event as big as the Olympics. Nowhere is the competition for a volunteer spot more fierce than with flower sweepers, children skaters that clear the ice of “gifts” tossed by adoring fans following figure skating performances. Only 30 skaters were chosen from among 135 that applied. Those selected had to show skill, grace, and the ability to work as a team.

QUESTIONS:

  1. As manager of figure skating operations, which role(s) will Bev Viger serve to facilitate teamwork and accomplishment of the important task of ice sweeping?
  2. Consider the nature of the task represented by sweeping and communication to get it accomplished. What type of group is likely to be most effective? What type of communication network should be utilized?
  3. What decision-making method is used to deploy the sweepers? Is this typically a method associated with effective teams? Discuss the circumstances under which this method might or might not be effective.

SOURCE: G. A. Fowler, “Eleven-Year-Old Makes Clean Sweep in Olympic Figure Skating,” Wall Street Journal (Retrievable online at http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748703494404575082250954936946.html)

See also J. Branch, “Volunteers at Whistler Do the Grunt Work, and Love It,” New York Times (Retrievable online at http://www.nytimes.com/2010/02/25/sports/olympics/25weasel.html)

Posted by & filed under Uncategorized.

“People are just dying to get in here,” the old joke about cemeteries goes. While death is inevitable, the options for dealing with post-death are not. Sales in the casket industry have been declining for nearly a decade. Industry leaders Hillenbrand, Inc. and Matthews International Corp. are faced with the grim reality that their business is not likely to grow even when the economy rebounds. Both companies are revamping their business strategies in order to remain viable.

QUESTIONS:

  1. Conduct a SWOT analysis for Hillenbrand, Inc.
  2. What master strategy is Hillenbrand, Inc. employing in response to declining sales in the casket making industry? How is this master strategy being implemented (i.e., what form does it take)?
  3. In what ways is Matthews International’s strategy similar to and different from Hillenbrand’s strategy?

SOURCE: D. Mattioli, “Casket Makers Dig in as Sales Take Hit,” Wall Street Journal (Retrievable online at http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704511304575075811946202750.html)

Posted by & filed under Uncategorized.

In a much celebrated public case of multiple indiscretions, superstar Tiger Woods has fallen out of favor with many. He temporarily suspended his golf career – although that appears likely to resume soon – lost several lucrative marketing contracts and briefly entered a rehabilitation facility. Now Woods is trying to salvage his public image, if not the relationship with his wife. The golfer put together a very tightly controlled “public” press conference to apologize to supporters and fans and offer some perspective on his life in recent days. The case highlights the importance of social capital and offers several opportunities to discuss communication following negative publicity.

QUESTIONS:

  1. Think about the nature of the press conference (i.e., who set it up, how it operated). Evaluate the meeting in terms of effectiveness and efficiency.
  2. View the related video. Is the press conference a form of persuasive communication? Did it enhance Tiger Woods’ credibility?
  3. In terms of the message, was this an appropriate channel? Talk about the importance of channel richness here and alternate ways Woods could have conveyed the same message.

SOURCE: D. Everson & S. Vranica, “Woods Offers Tightly Scripted Apology,” Wall Street Journal (Retrievable online at http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748703787304575075051038318196.html?mod=WSJ_hps_MIDDLEForthNews)

Related video clip:

Posted by & filed under Uncategorized.

Toyota continues to address numerous quality control problems in the wake of a massive recall of several million vehicles and halting sales of eight popular models in the United States. Initially, Toyota was quick to blame everyone and everything but the company. It was also slow to move on problems, recalling the Prius only after the Japanese government put pressure on them to do so. In a frank admission, Akio Toyoda, grandson of Toyota’s founder, says the company has not lived up to its standards. Shinichi Sasaki outlined a number of systemic failures, including failure to properly analyze and respond to customer complaints. Toyota’s own success may have been the biggest contributor, as the company was unable to grow effectively and maintain the “Toyota Way” of manufacturing.

QUESTIONS:

  1. As the article noted, Toyota’s problems stem from rapid growth of the company. Toyota’s structure did not allow it to respond effectively to engineering and quality problems. For example, sticking gas pedals were discovered and replaced in Europe, yet no one in the United States was alerted. What type of divisional structure does Toyota likely utilize? How might that contribute to their problems (like the one identified here)?
  2. Examine Figure 9.8 in your text. What organizational form does Toyota use? What organizational features (identified in the article) guide your choice?
  3. Imagine that Toyota wants your advice on how to fix the issues that led to this massive recall. What trends in organizational design would you recommend? Why?

SOURCE: B. Harden, “’Toyota Way’ Was Lost on Road to Phenomenal Worldwide Growth,” Washington Post (Retrievable online at http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/02/12/AR2010021205371.html?sub=AR)

Posted by & filed under Uncategorized.

After years of toiling in futility, the New Orleans Saints – a team born the year the Super Bowl started – finally won their first. Despite trailing 10-0 early in the game, Team Who Dat battled back and won professional football’s championship game in stunning fashion. With the Saints clinging to a 24-17 lead, Tracy Porter intercepted a Peyton Manning pass and ran it back 74 yards for a touchdown. To intercept Manning, arguably the NFL’s best quarterback, was one thing. To score at the same time provided the exclamation mark that proved the team from the Big Easy was not a joke nor was their victory a fluke.

QUESTIONS:

  1. Read the opening quote by Casey Stengel then discuss the outcome of the game by comparing the performances of regular season MVP Peyton Manning and Saints quarterback Drew Brees (a player many teams were not willing to consider when he was a free agent in 2006).
  2. What is a norm? Examine the article for normative statements. How did these influence Saints players’ mindsets both leading up to and during the game?
  3. What is the best way to make decisions in teams? Under what circumstances might other methods be effective? Discuss the two key decisions made by Saints Coach Sean Payton (i.e., the decision to “go for it” on 4th and goal on the 1-yard line, calling for an on-side kick to start the second half). What decision rule was used? What made these decisions effective?

SOURCE: J.Bell, “Saints Stump Colts 31-17 to Win Franchise’s First Super Bowl Title,” USA Today (Retrievable online at http://www.usatoday.com/sports/football/nfl/2010-02-07-super-bowl_N.htm?obref=obinsite)

Posted by & filed under Uncategorized.

On the heels of becoming the world’s largest automobile manufacturer based on sales, Toyota is faced with a recall of nearly seven million vehicles in the United States. In addition, the Japanese company halted production and sales of its eight most popular U.S. models beginning February 1. The actions stem from a problem that causes accelerators to stick. At present, no one is suggesting that the situation raises any ethical concerns (note: be sure to stress this prior to discussion). Nevertheless, it is a case that offers a number of factors related to ethics and provides a good opportunity to examine Toyota’s actions through an ethical lens. The case is also effective for examining a number of operational issues including quality management.

QUESTIONS:

  1. Describe the ethics intensity of the Toyota situation. What factors contribute to this intensity?
  2. How do the internal and external environments of Toyota influence decision making on the recall?
  3. Toyota first identified the accelerator problem in March 2007, yet the actions announced this week took nearly two years to implement. Consider the following explanations: “We needed time to study the problem and develop an adequate fix,” and “We considered this to be a drivability issue unrelated to safety.” A Massachusetts-based firm said its research identified 2,274 incidents of sudden unintended acceleration causing 275 crashes with 18 fatalities. A Toyota spokesperson stated, “I would say those data, based on the very diverse nature of his sources, are impossible to verify.” Discuss the legitimacy of these responses. Would any of them be consistent with rationalizations for unethical behavior?

SOURCE: K. Linebaugh & N. Shirouzu, “Toyota Halts Sales Over Safety Issues,” Wall Street Journal (Retrievable online at http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704905604575027671658649384.html?mod=WSJ_article_MoreIn)

Related video clip:

Posted by & filed under Uncategorized.

Laura Silsby and nine other Americans from Idaho were arrested and detained in Haiti on charges that the group was attempting to abduct Haitian children. The group, representing Central Valley Baptist Church and Ms. Silsby’s charitable organization, claim they were taking the children to the Dominican Republic to start an orphanage. Haitian officials counter that the group did not have proper documentation and were warned not to move the children or face arrest. The case is still pending. Group members have been charged with child abduction and criminal association.

QUESTIONS:

  1. Using Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, describe Laura Silsby’s motivation for going to Haiti.
  2. The article describes Ms. Silsby as having considerable financial problems back in the United States, including having her house foreclosed upon and her business being in jeopardy. What level of needs (in Maslow’s categorization) are represented by these? How do you reconcile Silsby’s motivation for going to Haiti with this? Does it make sense in terms of Maslow’s Hierarchy? In what ways might ERG Theory offer a better explanation?
  3. Consider Ms. Silsby’s experience in Haiti. If she avoids prosecution and is released from custody, how likely is she to continue her work in Haiti? Examine her motivation using Expectancy Theory. What elements would contribute to her motivation or lack thereof?

SOURCE: J. Millman, J. Ball, & M. Schoofs, “Missionary Stumbles on Road to Haiti,” Wall Street Journal (Retrievable online at http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748703357104575045794048725562.html?mod=WSJ_hp_editorsPicks)

Related video clip: