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  • A few years ago, you founded a company that manufactures meatless burgers.

  • Your product is now sold in stores worldwide.

  • But you've recently received awful news:

  • three unrelated people in one city died after eating your burgers.

  • The police concluded that a criminal targeted your brand,

  • injecting poison into your product in at least two grocery stores.

  • The culprit used an ultrafine instrument that left no trace on the packaging,

  • making it impossible to determine which products were compromised.

  • Your burgers were immediately removed from the two stores

  • where the victims bought them.

  • The deaths are headline news,

  • the killer is still at large, and sales have plummeted.

  • You must quickly develop a strategy to deal with the crisis.

  • Your team comes up with three options:

  • 1. Do nothing.

  • 2. Pull the products from grocery stores citywide and destroy them.

  • Or 3. Pull and destroy the product worldwide.

  • Which do you choose?

  • Your company lawyer explains that a recall is not required by law

  • because the criminal is fully responsible.

  • She recommends the first optiondoing nothing

  • because recalling the product could look like an admission of fault.

  • But is that the most ethical strategy?

  • To gauge the ethicality of each choice,

  • you could perform a “stakeholder analysis.”

  • This would allow you to weigh the interests of some key stakeholders

  • investors, employees, and customersagainst one another.

  • With the first option

  • your advisors project that the crisis will eventually blow over.

  • Sales will then improve but probably stay below prior levels

  • because of damage to the brand.

  • As a result, you'll have to lay off some employees,

  • and investors will suffer minor losses.

  • But more customers could die if the killer poisoned packages elsewhere.

  • The second option is expensive in the short-term

  • and will require greater employee layoffs

  • and additional financial loss to investors.

  • But this option is safer for customers in the city

  • and could create enough trust that sales will eventually rebound.

  • The third option is the most expensive in the short-term

  • and will require significant employee layoffs and investor losses.

  • Though you have no evidence that these crimes are an international threat,

  • this option provides the greatest customer protection.

  • Given the conflict between the interests of your customers

  • versus those of your investors and employees,

  • which strategy is the most ethical?

  • To make this decision, you could consider these tests:

  • First is the Utilitarian Test:

  • Utilitarianism is a philosophy concerned

  • with maximizing the greatest amount of good for the greatest number of people.

  • What would be the impact of each option on these terms?

  • Second is the Family Test:

  • How would you feel explaining your decision to your family?

  • Third is the Newspaper Test:

  • how would you feel reading about it on the front page of the local newspaper?

  • And finally, you could use the Mentor Test:

  • If someone you admire were making this decision, what would they do?

  • Johnson & Johnson CEO James Burke faced a similar challenge in 1982

  • after a criminal added the poison cyanide to bottles of Tylenol in Chicago.

  • Seven people died and sales dropped.

  • Industry analysts said the company was done for.

  • In response, Burke decided to pull Tylenol from all shelves worldwide,

  • citing customer safety as the company's highest priority.

  • Johnson & Johnson recalled and destroyed an estimated 32 million bottles of Tylenol

  • valued at 250 million in today's dollars.

  • 1.5 million of the recalled bottles were tested and 3 of them

  • all from the Chicago area

  • were found to contain cyanide.

  • Burke's decision helped the company regain the trust of its customers,

  • and product sales rebounded within a year.

  • Prompted by the Tylenol murders, Johnson & Johnson became a leader

  • in developing tamper-resistant packaging

  • and the government instituted stricter regulations.

  • The killer, meanwhile, was never caught.

  • Burke's decision prevented further deaths from the initial poisoning,

  • but the federal government investigated hundreds of copycat tampering incidents

  • involving other products in the following weeks.

  • Could these have been prevented with a different response?

  • Was Burke acting in the interest of the public or of his company?

  • Was this good ethics or good marketing?

  • As with all ethical dilemmas, this has no clear right or wrong answer.

  • And for your meatless burger empire, the choice remains yours.

A few years ago, you founded a company that manufactures meatless burgers.

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B1 TED-Ed burke tylenol option ethical johnson

Ethical dilemma: The burger murders - George Siedel and Christine Ladwig

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    林宜悉 posted on 2020/12/15
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