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The Erb Institute has established itself as a recognized leader in helping top business school programs and businesses navigate sustainability challenges through its teaching case studies for almost a decade. Since 2008, over 70 titles have been published, with an estimated 43,000 copies in use worldwide. As of 2017, these cases have been adopted by business schools on 4 continents. Their reach includes over 200 business schools, from the Ivy League to the deserts of Arizona, and from Glasgow to Sydney.

The Erb-branded case study program was established by Professor Andrew Hoffman as a way to engage students in addressing timely and topical sustainability issues through various lenses. As such, students come away better prepared to grapple with the realities of the tough decisions they will face as business leaders. Case studies help improve flexibility in considering alternatives and allow students to compare their decisions with actual outcomes.

Interested in having your company featured in a case study? A successful case study requires three key components: a topic that fits the pedagogy of a business school classroom, a protagonist around which the story centers and a central tension or question to focus discussion. Once these components have been established, faculty and select students will work with the company to develop the storyline and the necessary data. Please contact the Erb Institute for more information.

Here is a sampling of topics and companies that can be found at WDI Publishing: Seventh Generation and Unilever: Would an Acquisition Affect Sustainability? NEW!

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

Seventh Generation, a sustainable cleaning and personal care products company, has received a purchase offer from Unilever. Seventh Generation’s CEO is deciding whether to accept the offer and, if so, under what terms. The deal would open many new avenues for growth and expansion for Seventh Generation, but would it be able to continue to pursue its mission “to inspire a consumer revolution that nurtures the health of the next seven generations” under Unilever’s ownership? Could Seventh Generation influence Unilever’s values to make both organizations more sustainable?

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 address the media coverage and public scrutiny of the apparel industry that is sure to follow.


Recycling at Keurig Green Mountain: A Brewing Problem

General Mills Commits to Sourcing 100% Sustainable Cocoa

Monique Oxender, chief sustainability officer for Keurig Green Mountain Coffee, is carefully considering the criticism the company has received regarding its plastic K-Cups that deliver a single serving of coffee to consumers through the Keurig brewing system. Billions of the difficultto-recycle K-Cup pods are ending up in landfills. Keurig Green Mountain has pledged to produce 100-percentrecyclable K-Cups by 2020, but how will it achieve this goal? Oxender must address the environmental impact and public scrutiny of the company’s signature product. However, she must find a way to overcome the inconsistent and sometimes inadequate recycling infrastructure in Keurig’s markets. Students join Oxender in finding the best workable solutions.

Jacob Madisson is wondering how General Mills will make it to its goal of sourcing 100-percent-sustainable cocoa by 2020. Demand is increasing, and some are wondering if the supply of the precious raw material will dry up. Prices will certainly increase, nevertheless. With only 10 percent of its African-based cocoa sourced sustainably, General Mills needs a new strategy. How will the company move forward?

Dow and the Circular Economy: Trash to Treasure? Erica Ocampo, sustainability and advocacy manager at the Dow Chemical Company, is getting ready to present her report on the pilot Energy Bag program to her boss. The waste-to-energy program has achieved success in converting plastics to energy, but Ocampo is wondering how she can take the project a step further and truly make Dow a participant and leader in the circular economy. Students are asked to identify with Ocampo and develop a plan of action for the company.

Uber and the Sharing Economy: Global Market Expansion and Reception Alexander Cooper is gearing up to lead an expansion strategy for the scrappy and highly successful car-sharing service Uber. While the company has not been without its controversy, it is making headway in far-off places like India. It is looking to scale its model in India, China and the rest of Southeast Asia, but it is increasingly running into regulatory hurdles. Cooper is forced to think hard about what Uber’s expansion strategy should be and how it will affect the company’s operations. Uber currently markets itself based on word of mouth, but in markets like China, where two companies dominate 99 percent of market share, this may be unrealistic. What path should this sharing economy company take?

What Is Water Worth? Nestlé Walks a Fine Line Paul Bulcke, CEO of Nestlé S.A., is confronted with an Internet firestorm after a comment made by his predecessor, Nestlé Chairman Peter Brabeck-Letmathe, in a 2005 interview resurfaces. In the interview BrabeckLetmathe calls the human right to water an “extreme solution.” Bulcke must make recommendations to lay the foundation for the company’s future direction relevant to water use at its shareholder meeting the next day. The main questions facing him are: How should Nestlé frame its approach to water resource management? And, what type of public relations campaign should Nestlé engage in to counter the negative perception of its water rights policy? In their reading and discussion of the case, students are asked to outline the implications of water being deemed a human right as well as develop and defend a corporate water strategy.

The Erb-branded case studies are published by William Davidson Institute Publishing at the University of Michigan and available for purchase at both WDI and Harvard Business School Publishing; several are offered with a Spanish translation. wdi-publishing.com Contact us: (+1.734) 647.9799 erbinstitute@umich.edu

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Erb case study 5 15 2017 (1)  

Erb case study 5 15 2017 (1)