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Bayer CropScience in India (A): Against Child Labor
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19 pages (13 pages of text)
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Case (Field)
AWARD WINNING CASE - Indian Management Issues and Opportunities Award, 2012 European Foundation for Management Development (EFMD) Case Writing Competition. This case explores value-driven strategy formulation and implementation by bringing to the fore issues of ethics, responsible leadership, social intiatives in emerging markets, and the global-local tensions in corporate social responsibility. It examines how Bayer CropScience addressed the issue of child labor in its cotton seed supply chain in rural India between 2002 and 2008. Bayer had been operating in India for more than a century. In December 2002, the Bayer Group completed the acquisition of India-based Aventis CropScience. Bayer CropScience first learned about the occurrence and prevalence of child labor in its newly acquired India-based cotton seed operations a few months post-acquisition, in April 2003. The Aventis acquisition had brought onboard a well-known Indian company, Proagro, which already had operations in the cotton seed production and marketing - a new segment of the supply chain for Bayer. Child labor was widespread in cotton seed production — a traditional practice taken for granted not only by Indian farmers but also by several hundred Indian companies then accounting for approximately 90 per cent of the market share. The (A) case focuses on Bayer’s decision whether, when, and how to launch a self-run program that would take direct responsibility for tracking and eradicating child labor in rural India.
Learning Objective:
This case works well with an MBA or executive MBA class. The case is ideally suited for core and elective courses on international business, global strategy and leadership, or sustainability. Students are challenged to apply their knowledge of international strategy to address the local and global constraints associated with the complex issue of child labor in a stakeholder arena rife with controversy and conflict. This case can be used either in a course on strategic management to emphasize the social side of strategy or in a course on global strategy to emphasize the ethical and leadership challenges of a multinational company in an emerging market such as India. The case demands that students reflect deeply on their own values and the extent to which they would go to honor those values. The case can also be used as a discussion point for more specialized topics, such as in electives and executive modules on corporate social responsibility or collaborating with NGOs. The objectives of this case are to:
  • Understand the role of value-based leadership and value-driven strategy in grappling with a significant social issue, such as child labor, particularly in the context of global business.
  • Develop an in-depth understanding of the embeddedness of business and social issues in emerging markets, including both an appreciation of the difficulties of separating personal values from strategic responses, especially during times of crisis, and an understanding of the co-evolution of personal values and strategic responses.
  • Discuss the unique features of crisis management in multinationals when facing intensifying pressures from local and global stakeholders.
  • Explore the lessons to be learned regarding the nested, conflicting, and fine-grained processes of value-driven leadership that often differentiate effective and ineffective responses.
General Management/Strategy,  Organizational Behaviour/Leadership,  International,  Marketing
Agriculture, Forestry, Fishing and Hunting
India, Large, 2007
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Associated Materials
Supplements: 9B10M062 (7 pages)
Translations: Spanish (21 pages)
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