Firestone: Crises Across the Decades (pdf abstract)

Purchase the full report on GlobaLens (Case study #1-429-412) – published 02/2015, 12 pages

By: Andrew Hoffman

Description: Ed Garcia, president and managing director of Firestone Liberia, is relishing the moment, reviewing reports coming in from around the world praising his company’s handling of the Ebola crisis when he comes across an article on a subject Firestone executives thought they had long moved past: Liberian warlord Charles Taylor. The report focuses on a PBS documentary that uncovers a trove of recently discovered documents revealing a 1991 deal in which Firestone agreed to pay the warlord $2.3 million in exchange for being able to keep its profitable rubber plantation in operation during a bloody civil war. Students are asked to address the public relations crisis and explore Firestone’s responsibility for confronting past wrongs, striking a balance between social equity and economic prosperity.

Teaching Note: Available to Registered Educators. Please login to view it.

Teaching Points: After reading and discussing this case, students should be able to:

  • Explore the implications of a multinational company entering a developing country/emerging market to do business when the company has more money/power than the country it is entering.
  • Examine the responsibilities of the company to upheaval in the country and identify where the line between government and company responsibility should exist.
  • Determine the balance or allowable imbalance between social equity and economic prosperity.
  • Explore future actions and responsibilities for recently uncovered wrongful actions and how these actions can or cannot make up for the past.
  • Discuss levels of transparency in measuring the social equity and economic prosperity of a country.