H&M’s Global Supply Chain Management Sustainability: Factories and Fast Fashion

by: Andrew Hoffman

Publication Date: February 8, 2014
Length: 16 pages
Product ID#: 1-429-373

Core Disciplines: Ethics, International Business, Leadership/Organizational Behavior, Operations Management/Supply Chain, Social Impact, Strategy & Management, Sustainability

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Teaching Note

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The H&M case is set immediately after the Rana Plaza collapse in Bangladesh. The case explores questions of who is to blame and how it should be addressed. There is no guarantee that H&M garment manufacturing had not been subcontracted to one of the factories in Rana Plaza, and Helena Helmersson, head of sustainability at H&M, must meet with the CEO, Karl-Johan Persson, to discuss how the company will respond and devise a plan to face the media coverage and public scrutiny of the apparel industry that is sure to follow. This case was written under the supervision of Andrew Hoffman at the University of Michigan by graduate students Marianna Kerppola, Ryan Moody, Likangjin Zheng, and Amaryllia Liu.

Teaching Objectives

After reading and discussing the material, students should:

  • To recognize the impacts of market globalization on businesses and describe key drivers behind the movement of labor to developing economies.
  • To understand the relationships among the garment workers, factory owners, and retailers in Bangladesh, which ultimately led to the deaths of over 1,100 Bangladeshi workers in the Rana Plaza factory collapse.
  • To discuss why there is no simple answer to preventing another disaster like the Rana factory collapse and understand why the solution will require changes within the entire industry (businesses), global trade and labor policies (government), and the Western culture of excessive yet price-conscious consumption (consumers).
  • To develop strategies for a company, like H&M, to integrate social and environmental responsibility into its business model while continuing to maximize shareholder value.
  • To examine whether the strategies developed for a company, like H&M, can be generalized and applied to other companies in the garment industry or even across other industries.