Case Study: Merck And River Blindness

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Register to read the introduction… It is particularly useful, because most students have never heard of it, meaning that Merck has not “promoted” it to external audiences. On the other hand, it is clearly an important part of the company’s culture. Ask any employee about it and be prepared for a long conversation. Also, Merck did this long before corporate social responsibility was fashionable.

We encourage you to search YouTube for videos on river blindness. It is harder to discuss this just in terms of the financial bottom line, once you have seen pictures of exactly what the disease is and what it does. Go to YouTube and put in the search terms “river blindness” or “Merck river blindness.” Choose a video and then decide where in the discussion it would be best to insert it.

Case Questions:

1. Think about the definition of stakeholders — any parties with a stake in the organization’s actions or performance. Who are the stakeholders in this situation? How many can you list? On what basis would you rank them in
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If you remember, Merck voluntarily recalled Vioxx a few years ago, after learning that it caused cardiovascular problems in patients who took it for 18 months or more. The recall created uproar and lots of lawsuits. Merck fought them, because of its claim that it had done nothing wrong. But after winning more cases than it lost, it finally settled the remaining cases, so that it could move on. We have found it interesting to discuss this case and contrast it with the River Blindness story. The Vioxx case is a complex one. So, if you want to do it, you will have to do some research. Maybe we will write that case to accompany the Merck case for the next …show more content…
Have them write a 3 – 4 page paper, outlining their answers, or prepare a presentation for class discussion.

2. Write a Sustainability Report

This is a good opportunity to have students interview a parent, friend, or find another businessperson to interview about what his/her company is doing with regards to sustainability. You could instruct them to either focus only on local companies – and interview local businesses – or focus on large and/or global companies. They could focus on companies in one country, or investigate whether there are trends in certain regions of the world. If they could give a “Sustainability” or “Green” award, what companies would they nominate and why?

3. Global 100 Analysis

Students could select two companies from the Global 100 index (see Additional Resources, which follows) and compare how various companies approach the subject of social responsibility. Alone or in teams, students could investigate a company (or companies), prepare a presentation, and present their findings in class.

Additional Resources:

1. Global 100

The Global 100 is a group based in Canada that rates companies globally on a sustainability index:

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