Ben & Jerry's and Unilever: The Bohemian and the Behemoth
Bourgeois, L. J. III; Mariani, Elio; Yu, Vivian Jen
Darden Business School
Ben & Jerry/Unilever raises the issues of (1) how to bring a nonbusiness culture (B&J) into a corporate culture (Unilever) while preserving the value acquired; (2) how to manage a recently acquired subsidiary whose parent company is an ocean away; (3) how, as a corporate-appointed general manager, the French general manger can gain the trust of the acquired firm; and (4) how (or even whether) to preserve the Social Responsibility (SR) aspects of the target. An additional focus might be how (or whether) to export a socially-responsible firm's values to overseas locations. The case can be positioned near the end of a PMI course, where the students can apply PMI skills in a unique ethical and cultural situation. Alternatively, it can be used in an Ethics course to highlight the challenges of maintaining an SR mission when a public global corporation acquires a local (Vermont) SR organization.
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