Russell Athletic Tries to Keep the Shirt on Its Back (A)

by: Brian Talbot

Publication Date: January 22, 2010
Length: 24 pages
Product ID#: 1-428-826

Core Disciplines: Ethics, International Business, Leadership/Organizational Behavior

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Teaching Note

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Russell Athletic, one of the University of Michigan’s primary providers of collegiate athletic clothing, is involved in a serious labor rights controversy. Russell had been a trustworthy and responsible supplier for years, but the University of Michigan committee was very concerned about Russell’s decision to close a manufacturing facility in Honduras, a move that received severe condemnation from some labor rights groups. Students consider the appropriate role of a major university (or firm) in setting and enforcing social responsibility criteria such as environmental and labor law issues. Specifically, students evaluate the purpose of applying criteria beyond “normal” business criteria (like price, quality, quantity, financing).

Teaching Objectives

After reading and discussing the material, students should:

  • describe appropriate business terms and principles approriate to this case,
  • apply critical concepts from earlier learning to define a solution to the case,
  • successfully articulate data and information in support of the solution proposed,
  • critically analyze and discuss other responses and solutions to the case,
  • draw lessons from the case analysis,
  • generalize the learnings of this case to other business challenges and decisions in organizations other than the one analyzed in this case study,
  • demonstrate leadership and scholarship in analysis.