Ivey Publishing
El Coyote Mexican Cafe in the Wake of Proposition 8
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17 pages (10 pages of text)
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Case (Library)
The El Coyote Mexican Café, more commonly known as El Coyote, is a family-owned restaurant located in Los Angeles, California. The restaurant faced criticism from pro-gay rights activists after the manager (the daughter of the owner) made a personal donation to support California Ballot Proposition 8, which activists associated with the restaurant rather than the individual. The case transpires over an eight-day period from November 4, 2008, which was the election day when the ballot proposition passed, to November 12, 2008, which was when the manager held an open breakfast at El Coyote to publicly discuss the issue. The central tension in the case revolves around how the manager’s donation to support a measure that legally defines marriage as “between a man and a woman” has gained the restaurant unwanted attention despite being a personal contribution separate from and not endorsed by the business. The goal of the case is to challenge students to think about tensions firms face in managing the external environment of their businesses in the face of both: 1) campaign finance and election issues; and (2) activists who may not understand all of the underlying facts.
Learning Objective:
This case is well suited for a non-market strategy, social issues in management, corporate political strategy, or corporate social responsibility course and could be taught according to the emphasis of the class. The first theme of this case is that businesses and their employees may disagree on social issues/campaign finance. This becomes a contentious topic when businesses become targets for theirs employees’ social positions. Businesses then have to decide if they want to manage the problem and, if not, how they will deal with potential fallout. The second theme of this case is activist movements and how they sometimes target businesses. It becomes important to businesses to decide what they can do to avoid being targeted. If they cannot avoid becoming a target, it is important to have strategic responses to activists to minimize the damage they cause. The final theme of this case is campaign finance disclosure laws. It may be useful for individuals and corporations to have views on the political process, but these views when made public may either help or hurt business. In analyzing the case, students learn about:
  • Tensions between employees’ personal views on social issues/campaign finance and views/positions that are beneficial to their businesses.
  • How to deal with activist movements, how to avoid being targeted by activists, and strategies for communicating with leaderless groups.
  • The potentially negative implications of campaign finance disclosures, even when most people generally view greater transparency and disclosure as being positive.
General Management/Strategy,  Organizational Behaviour/Leadership
Accommodation & Food Services
United States, Small, 2008
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