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The Dark Side

Critical Cases on the Downside of Business

The discredit of a certain brand of capitalism – and the managers that practice it – continues apace. The increasing lack of tolerance for short-term thinking and a systematic neglect of the social, regulatory, and economic conditions in which business ought to operate means we are entering a time of trouble and questions – an era of economic, social, and environmental turbulence.

There is a critical need for business educators and trainers to expose students and managers to these issues to examine, explore, and understand the different multifaceted, complex phenomena of our late capitalist era. There is also a need to foster a climate for future and current business managers to reflect, feel, and think differently both ethically and cognitively. The 16 innovative case studies in The Dark Side: Critical Cases on the Downside of Business are designed for this very purpose: to provoke reflection and debate; to challenge and change perceptions; and to create responsible managers.

The cases are innovative in two ways. First, in terms of content they acknowledge the diversity of actors and interests in and around organizations. They contain different levels of analysis, and propose different points of view and logics. They recognize that decisions that seem sound when they are made may actually contain the seeds of their later failure. Second, these cases are innovative in terms of format. Whereas most cases are formatted around decision-making situations, these are more diverse and open-ended. This stimulates the use of "judgment" – the capacity to synthesize, integrate, and balance short- and long-term effects, appreciate effects on different groups, and learn to listen and evaluate. Whereas decision-making is the key skill when confronting complicated issues and situations, "judgment-making" relies on experience and is a far better tool in the complex, murky, gray areas typical of business ethics.

The cases included here are all finalists or award-winners from the first seven years of the Dark Side of Business Case Competition, a joint event of the Academy of Management's Critical Management Studies Section and Management Education Section. In many areas of management, case studies are almost exclusively devoted to "best practice" cases or difficult decisions faced by basically well-managed firms. When educators look for resources to illustrate to students the more typical cases, let alone the really scandalous practices of the worst firms, the cupboard is almost entirely bare. From the beginning, the Dark Side competition aimed at encouraging case studies that integrate socio-political issues with organizational dynamics, thus contextualizing organizational and management problems within the broader system of capitalism.

These cases comprise a diverse and rich collection from a range of countries, continents, and issues and focus on interactions in business organizations as well as between business organizations and groups and societies. The Dark Side: Critical Cases on the Downside of Business is divided into four sections. The first sheds light on gray areas in the behavior of businesses. The second concerns the interactions between business and local communities in diverse countries. The third concerns crises, and specifically how firms may create or manage them. Finally, the fourth section concerns gray areas in business behavior in the global context.

Teaching notes for all of the cases are available free of charge to educators from the publisher.

The Dark Side: Critical Cases on the Downside of Business will be an essential purchase for educators and is expected to be a widely used resource at all levels of management education.

I often get asked, "What if we don't consider sustainability/do environmental management/implement a safety program?" by company managers and owners. This book is a sober warning of what could happen if businesses cut corners on social, environmental, ethical and regulatory standards. The book is split into four parts:- Part one covers "gray areas in the behaviour of businesses"; Part two looks at "business and local communities"; Part three explores "creating (or managing) crises"; and Part four looks at "gray areas in the global context". The editors have chosen an eclectic selection of case studies ranging from entrepreneurship and sexism to the responsibilities of (South African) mining companies and informal settlements, sub-standard underground mine safety, and lead-tainted toys. All of the case studies pose questions which do not always have clearly defined solutions, but illustrate the importance of dialogue with stakeholders (whoever they may be). The book also demonstrates the value of developing case studies as a means of identifying key management and communication strategies. So often, corporates will focus on a one way communication strategy which does not listen to responses and reactions. This often results in vital intelligence and status information being lost or not collected. A fascinating case study included in the book relates to Google's decision making on whether or not to enter the China market and locate a Chinese language version of the Google search engine on Chinese servers. The ethical questions raised here make absorbing reading. The Westray mine explosion case study was also a powerful tale of corporate deceit and irresponsibility. This book has many useful and thought provoking messages for Sustainability Mangers and directors dealing with corporate social responsibility and ethics issues. It will not provide all the answers but it will indicate what and how things can go wrong and provides a powerful motivation to understand the dynamics in your organisation and ensure that stakeholder communication channels are open and two way.

Eagle Bulletin 19.3 (November 2009) Arend Hoogevorst

Challenged with complex business problems from the very first page, readers are confronted with the 'ugly' reality of the modern capitalism through an analytical lens throughout the book. As suggested by the title, the book represents a unique viewpoint on business ethics which is often missing or neglected in similar text books. Raufflet and Mills share a strong sense of responsibility to encourage an alternative approach in management education – one that respects and values ethical rules and prepares managers with judgmental skills in the ever-complicated business environment. The book comprises 16 case studies selected from the finalists and award-winners in the past seven years of the Dark Side of Business Case Competition at the Academy of Management Conference. The editors separate the book into four parts: grey areas in the behaviour of the businesses, business and local communities, creating (or managing) crises and grey areas in the global context. Each case includes a brief introduction from the editors, followed by a set of discussion questions. Along with the core text extra material for the teaching staff are offered online. The cases are set in a diverse collection of scenarios, ranging from internal organizational issues to external relationships. Crossing from various sectors, sizes, types and managerial involvement levels, the book succeeds in its goal of challenging the readers to employ analytical thinking when facing complex problems regarding corporate responsibilities and business ethics. The complexity of the situations examined is such that it forces the readers to be exposed and confronted with the limitations of the methods used to solve simpler problems. The book appears as a refreshing alternative to books of successful management stories that fill the shelves. It is one of the few books in the market that deal with problematic cases and managerial failures. Readers are offered the chance to understand how specific managerial decisions can lead to failure and have undesirable effects. Moreover, the book is easy to read and follow by providing the clear objectives outlined in each chapter. Although the book is designed to be used as a textbook in management education, it is structured in a way that makes it approachable as self-study material. Although throughout the book the cases are well written and thorough, the book may have been more cohesive with a modified organization of the chapters. A separate section for human resource management or internal organization issues, opposing to other external activities may provide more focus and impact. It is a pity that most of the authors and the cases are western-centric which somewhat limits the scope of the book. Despite the parts focusing on business in the global context, the culture perspective is therefore overlooked. Notwithstanding the above, the book succeeds in achieving all its goals and aims as set in the introduction. It is not only an essential read for all management educators and scholars, but also inspiring for all readers interested in CSR and the darker aspects of today's business ethics. The book is a valuable addition of booklists in all MBA programmes.

CSR International Book Review Digest 2.2 (February 2010) Hsin-Hsuan Meg Lee

CSR dominates the landscape of thinking about business and society, and in this landscape there are only sunlit uplands. This book focuses on things that haven't gone well for companies, and in doing so provides a vital reality check. Built around 16 varied case studies useful for teaching purposes, complete with questions for students to consider, it touches on areas such as staff exploitation, health and safety failures and poor community relations – covering small companies to large multinationals. It describes in detail the story of an individual struggling to cope with the impossible work demands of the German company Lidl, and outlines how a Canadian water company ended up killing seven people and causing thousands to become sick. There is a description of Google's relationship with censorship in China and an account of how good intentions led a company to dominate the local politics of a small French town. Some are gripping and harrowing tales and most are well-written with a detailed business context. While editing of the material is sometimes uneven, and some case studies have been left deliberately unfinished, therefore leaving the reader unclear about final outcomes, this book begins to fill a large gap in the market. It is especially important for universities or businesses that wish to ensure those working in CSR understand that good ethical performance is not just about winning prizes.

Ethical Performance Adrian Henriques

1. Gray areas in the behavior of businesses

1.1. Leading the team out of the hazing blues yonder: the case of the Windsor Spitfire hockey team

Francine K. Schlosser

1.2. John Hamilton’s work and eldercare dilemma. Break the silence? Sustain the silence?
Rosemary A. McGowan

1.3. Hugh Connerty and Hooters: what is successful entrepreneurship?
Mary Godwyn

1.4. Antiquorum Auctioneers: building brands on ignorance?
Benoit Leleux

1.5. The Lidl international career opportunity: from dream to nightmare in eight weeks
Matt Bladowski and Rosemary A. McGowan

2. Business and local communities

2.1. Food Lion vs. the UFCW: time for a change?
Paul Michael Swiercz

2.2. Manipulation, placation, partnership or delegated power: can community and business really work together when surface mining comes to town?
Sherry Finney

2.3. The smell of power: Yves Rocher in La Gacilly, France
Emmanuel Raufflet and Monique Le Chêne

2.4. Who takes responsibility for the informal settlements? Mining companies in South Africa and the challenge of local collaboration
Ralph Hamann

3. Creating (or managing) crises

3.1. The Westray mine explosion
Caroline J. O’Connell and Albert J. Mills

3.2. The story behind the water in Walkerton, Ontario
Elizabeth A. McLeod and Jean Helms Mills

3.3. Dark territory: the Graniteville chlorine spill
Jill A. Brown and Ann K. Buchholtz

4. Gray areas in the global context

4.1 The dark side of water: a struggle for access and control
Latha Poonamallee and Anita Howard

4.2. Mattel, Inc.: Lead-tainted toys
Adenekan (Nick) Dedeke and Martin Calkins

4.3 Google, Inc.: Figuring out how to deal with China
Anne T. Lawrence

4.4. Genocide in Rwanda: Leadership, ethics and organizational ‘failure’ in a post-colonial context
Brad S. Long, Jim Grant, Albert J. Mills, Ellen Rudderham-Gaudet, and Amy Warren

ALBERT J MILLS is Professor of Management and Director of the Sobey PhD Management Programme at Saint Mary's University. EMMANUEL RAUFFLET is Associate Professor of Management at HEC Montréal.

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