Firestone: Crises Across the Decades

by: Andrew Hoffman

Publication Date: February 27, 2015
Length: 12 pages
Product ID#: 1-429-412

Core Disciplines: Ethics, Social Impact, Strategy & Management, Sustainability

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Teaching Note

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A PBS documentary has uncovered a trove of recently discovered documents revealing a 1991 deal in which Firestone agreed to pay Liberian warlord Charles Taylor $2.3 million in exchange for keeping its profitable rubber farm in operation during a bloody civil war. This case explores the social and economic implications of a foreign company operating in a politically unstable and economically undeveloped country. Students are asked to address the public relations crisis and explore Firestone’s responsibility for confronting past wrongs, striking a balance between social equity and economic prosperity.

Teaching Objectives

After reading and discussing the material, students should:

  • Explore the implications of a multinational company entering a developing country/emerging market to do business when the company has more money/power than the country it is entering.
  • Examine the responsibilities of the company to upheaval in the country and identify where the line between government and company responsibility should exist.
  • Determine the balance or allowable imbalance between social equity and economic prosperity.
  • Explore future actions and responsibilities for recently uncovered wrongful actions and how these actions can or cannot make up for the past.
  • Discuss levels of transparency in measuring the social equity and economic prosperity of a country.