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Business Ethics of Bear Strength Supplements

Case Scenario

Polar Health has been experiencing a boom in its line of health supplement products. Over the last few months, sales of Polar Health's main line of supplement products, "Bear Strength," have skyrocketed. As the manufacturing manager for this line of supplements, Bill Brice has been working overtime to increase the manufacturing and packaging capacity of his department. In order to expand production facilities, Bill was able to persuade Polar Health to invest an additional $5,000,000 to hire new employees and enhance manufacturing facilities resulting in a 100% increase in production capacity for Bear Strength products.

Things were going smoothly as planned until Bill stumbled on some disturbing information. While talking with a college admissions advisor about his son's acceptance to medical school, the advisor tells Bill that a number of college students across the country have been mixing Bear Strength supplements with illegal drugs. Bill realizes that this combination would enhance the illegal drugs' effects and would boost the body's tolerance to adverse reactions to recreational drug use. Worried about this unexpected news, Bill contacts his colleague, Michelle Wong, to check on whether these rumors are true and verify how widespread this practice is. Michelle uses her marketing expertise to research the trend and the information is confirmed. It appears that the primary reason for the accelerating demand for Bear Strength is due to the new found drug-enhancing effects of these supplements mainly among teenagers and college-aged students. The newspapers, however, have not yet reported this news.

Michelle has met with Bill and showed him the research results. Bill is very concerned about the abuse of the Bear Strength line of supplements. While no deaths have been reported when Bear Strength has been used in recreational drug use, he is very troubled that such a possibility exists and is not sure what to do.

Bill is worried that if he places a warning against abuse on the supplement bottles that may either: (a) discourage purchases by legitimate consumers, (b) encourage young men and women to abuse it further, or (c) generate negative publicity since the media is sure to exploit this issue. On the other hand, if Polar Health fails to warn its customers of the potential dangers of combining the Bear Strength supplements with other drugs they may face a failure to warn product liability lawsuit that may bankrupt the company.

He is also concerned about his job security since it was he who convinced Polar Health to spend the $5,000,000 in new equipment and employees to double the production capacity of Bear Strength. If Bill's decision negatively affects sales and results in a drastic decrease in demand for Bear Strength, Bill suspects that he may lose his job.

Critical Analysis

Apply what you have learned from your course readings and assignments to your detailed analysis of at least 200-250 words for each of the following 4 questions. Support your position by identifying the unit concepts, business ethics concepts, related laws, and regulations that support your position, citing references from unit readings using APA 6th edition format. In addition, describe your reasoning as to how you would react in a similar situation. Clearly label and answer each question individually.

1. What should Bill do with this information about the inappropriate usage of Bear Strength supplements by college students?

2. What role does ethics play in this case?

3. What role, if any, does social responsibility play in this scenario?

4. What product liability requirements might be of particular importance in this situation?

Solution Preview

1. What should Bill do with this information about the inappropriate usage of Bear Strength supplements by college students?

Bill should immediately discuss this issue with the top management and other senior employees of the organization via an immediate meeting. As this issue threatens the survival of the business, it is of utmost importance to the organization to develop a concrete plan that addresses all legal, ethical and business concerns surrounding this issue. The top management has to be informed immediately, so that they can discuss with team members finalize best possible course of action to address this issue. Bill should also ensure that this information is not leaked outside the organization, so that there is no panic among consumers, dealers, etc. and the press or media is not able to exploit this issue and spread negative publicity about the company. Further, competitors can also take advantage of this situation and thus, this information has to be kept secret and discussed within the top ranks of the organization only. Bill should highlight the seriousness of the issue and possible implications, as well as possible course of action to address this issue as ...