Coke in the Crosshairs: Water, India, and the University of Michigan

by: Andrew Hoffman, Sarah Howie

Publication Date: July 25, 2010
Length: 22 pages
Product ID#: 1-429-098

Core Disciplines: International Business, Social Impact, Strategy & Management, Sustainability

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Teaching Note

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How do you maintain relationships with companies that serve a majority of people, but upset an outspoken minority? Winner of the 2011 Oikos Casewriting Competition, this case explores a tenuous relationship between the University of Michigan and the Coca-Cola Company. Pressured by an activist group, the university decided to cut its contract with Coke until the company satisfied the environmental and labor demands of the activists. Students will learn about student activism in a university setting and how the university seeks to satisfy student requests. A Spanish language version of this case is also available at Coca-Cola en la mira: El Agua, India y la Universidad de Michigan.

Teaching Objectives

After reading and discussing the material, students should:

  • Determine how to evaluate the success of SOLE's efforts
  • Explain how and why activists single out an organization / corporation for attention.
  • Explain fair metrics for evaluating success using SOLE as an example.
  • Explain the concept of a change agent;
  • Evaluate the sources of power exhibited by change agents.