Cases

Below is a list of related teaching cases published by our faculty. Many of these are available for purchase via the links provided.



Considering Profits and Principles in Technology Adaptation Decisions (A) (K. Byrne and J. Detert) 2006.


Description: A well-known, privately held outdoor-clothing company with a reputation for designing some of the most innovative products on the market and a reputation for its attentiveness to environmental issues conducted a life-cycle assessment of its fabrics. This brought to light the use of a potentially harmful chemical used to kill odor-causing bacteria in a popular fabric. Government officials and medical professionals expressed concern about the environmental and health impacts of the chemical. The company must decide whether or not to stop using the product or to adopt a new technology that may have similar concerns. This case study also includes a complimentary teaching note, which is available to faculty and corporate trainers.

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Considering Profits and Principles in Technology Adaptation Decisions (B) (K. Byrne and J. Detert) 2006.

Description: This provides a follow-up to the scenario presented in Part A revealing the company and the decisions they made. This is available to faculty and corporate trainers.

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Deja Shoe (A): The Recycled Footwear Company (S. Hart with P. Hardy) 1996.

Description: Long-time environment and recycling supporter Julie Lewis thought that she had struck green gold when she partnered with Nike and Avia executives to create Deja Shoe, an environmental footwear company. Lewis and her executive team successfully raised startup funding and used it to build an environmentally-sound and appealing product. However, as their product is about to launch, there are still uncertainties around quality, price, demand, and production. This case is about the route that Julie chose to take and the struggles she and her team encountered along the way. This case should be used with Deja Shoe (B).

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Deja Shoe (B): Product Launch (S. Hart with P. Hardy) 1996.

Description: Deja Shoe (B) provides a follow-up to the scenario presented in Deja Shoe (A). Part B follows Lewis and her team through Deja Shoe's product launch across mainstream and green retailers nationwide. It discusses initial quality and sourcing issues, which present the team with lackluster sales and financing challenges.

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Nike's World Shoe Project: Expanding the Playing Field (A) (S. Hart with H. McDonald and T. London) 2002.

Description: Tom Hartge, Nike's footwear director for emerging markets, was challenged with “expanding the playing field” in emerging markets with a range of affordable, durable, and easy-to-produce sports shoes that could effectively reach the huge untapped segment of “Tier 3” countries - developing markets with high potential, characterized by a population of 1 billion and an average of $2,000 purchasing power parity. By January 2001, Hartge and his team had sold only 404,520 pairs in China. Compared with the booming 1.2 billion population of China, this number was a disappointment. This case asks students to determine what Tom should do to persuade senior management to support and continue the project.

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Nike's World Shoe Project: Expanding the Playing Field (B) (S. Hart with H. McDonald and T. London) 2002.

Description: Nike’s World Shoe Project (B) accompanies Case (A). This one-page summary is designed to be handed out in class to give students an update on Nike's strategy for entering China.

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Jari Celulose (S. Hart and M. Milstein with B. Sardinha) 2003.

Description: It is early 2001 in Brazil, and Grupo Orsa has purchased Jari Celulose. By doing so, the group has assumed US $415 million in debt that has to be repaid over 11 years, following a pre-established agreement with the pulp mills’ bank creditors. Jari faces major problems including unstable pulp production, high energy costs, decreasing international pulp prices, and a series of financial losses throughout its 20 years of existence. Jari also faces serious environmental and social issues that stem from its very existence. Readers are left to consider the strategic direction that Sr. Sardinha, the new CEO of Jari Celulose, might take to turn the venture around. The successful implementation of such strategic plan is crucial not only for the company’s survival, but because of its potential to lead the creation of a sustainable growth model for the region. The case presents a summary of the pulping process, the global pulp market, as well as the background and history of both Jari and Grupo Orsa.

This case took 2nd place in the Oikos Case Writing Competition in 2003.

To obtain an inspection copy of the case, contact Mark Milstein.


Life-Cycle Analysis: Note (S. Hart with S. Svoboda) 1995.

Description: This note gives a general overview of Life-cycle analysis (LCA). As corporations seek to improve their environmental performance, they require new methods and tools. LCA is one such tool that can help companies to understand the environmental impacts associated with their products, processes, and activities. LCA is controversial and still evolving as a methodology. However, the principles behind LCA thinking are being adopted rapidly by manufacturers and service organizations alike as a way of opening new perspectives and expanding the debate over environmentally sound products and processes.

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McDonald's (A): Environmental Strategy (S. Hart with S. Svoboda) 1993.

Description: McDonald's Case (A) is the first piece in the McDonald's case series. It gives the background on McDonald's and the organization's environmental initiatives in the early 1990s. In particular, it presents a partnership that McDonald's formed with the Environmental Defense Fund to create a systematic approach and a strong scientific basis for McDonald’s solid waste decisions. This case sets the stage for Case (B) which presents the company's struggles with the decision to phase out polystyrene packaging, and Case (C) which deals with the company's experience as a target of the Beyond Beef Coalition.

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McDonald's (B-1): The Clamshell Controversy (S. Hart with S. Svoboda) 1993.

Description: McDonald's Case (B1) is the second piece in the McDonald's case series. It describes the decision-making process and subsequent decisions that McDonald's made regarding its polystyrene “clamshell” sandwich containers. Environmentally concerned customers oppose these containers despite scientific arguments that they are preferred over paper wraps. It contains details on the Life-Cycle Analysis that was adopted, and walks the students through the packaging methodology and analysis. Case B2 should be used as a follow-up to case B1.

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McDonald's (B-2): Decision (S. Hart with S. Svoboda) 1993.

Description: Case B2 is the third of part of the McDonald's Case Series. It is a one-page summary of McDonald's decision regarding the clamshells. It also highlights reactions to the decision from various newspaper editors, suppliers, and the national polystyrene recycling center. This can be provided to students as a follow-up in class, and should be used alongside case B1.

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McDonald's (C): Sustaining Environmental Success (S. Hart with S. Svoboda) 1993.

Description: McDonald's Case (C) is the fourth piece in the McDonald's case series. It describes the organization's response to the fact that in April 1993, another nonprofit environmental group, The Beyond Beef Coalition, targeted McDonald’s in a campaign to reduce beef consumption. McDonald's struggled with this backlash, and the case asks students how McDonald's can deal with this effectively, without diminishing the reputation the company had solidified through the partnership with the Environmental Defense Fund, which is described in the McDonald's cases A & B.

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McDonald's Trash Crisis: Note (S. Hart with S. Svoboda) 1993.

Description: This note, which is intended to accompany the McDonald's case series, gives an overview of different methods for dealing with municipal solid waste. Facts and statistics concerning the most common methods of waste management, including landfilling, incinerating, recycling, and composting, are discussed.

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Monsanto Company (A): Quest for Sustainability (E. Simanis under the supervision of S. Hart) 2000.

Description: This case explores Monsanto's sustainability-based strategy and subsequent transition from a chemical company to a giant in the life sciences, particularly in the area of biotechnology. There are five sections to this case: 1) a survey of the sustainability challenges facing the agricultural sector; 2) an overview of the ag-biotech industry; 3) a brief history of the Monsanto company;, 4) a summary of Monsanto's sustainability initiatives and a description of its transition to life sciences; and 5) an overview of stakeholders' responses to the development of genetically modified crops.

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Monsanto Company (A): Búsqueda de Sostenibilidad (E. Simanis under the supervision of S. Hart) 2000. SPANISH

Description: Este caso explora la estrategia de negocios de la empresa Monsanto siguiendo principios de sostenibilidad y su consiguiente transicion de productor de quimicos a una gran compañia de “ciencias de la vida”, particularmente en el area de la bioquímica. Este caso presenta cinco secciones: 1) una encuesta de desafíos a la sostenibilidad que enfrenta el sector agrícola; 2) una visión general de la industria de la agrobiotecnología; 3) una breve historia de la empresa Monsanto; 4) un resúmen de las iniciativas de sostenibilidad de Monsanto y una descripción de su transición a las ciencias biológicas; y 5) un resúmen de las respuestas de las partes interesadas en el desarrollo de cultivos genéticamente modificados.

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Monsanto Company (B): Quest for Sustainability (E. Simanis under the supervision of S. Hart) 2000.

Description: Following two years of sustained controversy over its genetically modified crops and its plans for the future of biotechnology in agriculture, Monsanto must face the significant failure of a planned merger and a plummeting stock price. With market growth stagnant and strong public disapproval, Monsanto must determine the path into the future for its life sciences division.

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Monsanto Company (B): Búsqueda de Sostenibilidad (E. Simanis under the supervision of S. Hart) 2000. SPANISH

Description: Después de dos años de controversia en relación a sus cultivos genéticamente modificados y sus futuros planes de biotecnología en agricultura, Monsanto se enfrenta con el fracaso de una fusion planificada de su compañia y una caída de precio de las acciones. Con el crecimiento del mercado estancado y la fuerte desaprobación pública de la empresa, Monsanto debe determinar el camino hacia el futuro para su división de "ciencias de la vida".

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EIA at S. C. Johnson (S. Hart with M. Matthews) 2008.

Description: SC Johnson, a leading consumer products goods company, developed a patented process, Greenlist, to assess the environmental impact of its raw materials. The case study takes the reader through SC Johnson's history and the development and improvement of the Greenlist process. It asks students what options the company has to license, share, or consult other organizations in implementing the Greenlist process. This case study includes a complimentary teaching note for registered educators.

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Sustainability and environmental standards: Seeking competitive distinction at Damai Lovina Villas (N. Darnall and M. Milstein) 2007.

Description: Damia Lovina Villas and Restaurant, a boutique hotel and resort, located on the island of Bali, Indonesia, is trying to assess the value of participating in a voluntary environmental certification program. In an increasingly competitive tourism industry, the general manager is contemplating whether his efforts to address a host of social and environmental issues are helping to improve the hotel’s business and whether he should take further action to use the idea of sustainability as a means to differentiate Damaí from its competitors. The case study helps readers consider the advantages and disadvantages of certifications, to determine if it is worth the investment. This case study also includes a complimentary teaching note.

To obtain an inspection copy of the case, contact Mark Milstein.


Tandus 2010 (A): Race to Sustainability (M. Milstein and S. Hart with J. Buffington) 2006.

Description: This case describes the strategic and environmental challenges at Tandus (formerly Collins & Aikman Floorcoverings, Inc.), one of the world’s leaders in floor covering products. Case A gives an overview of the U.S. carpet industry and the environmental strides of different players. It then follows protagonists Mac Bridger and Lee Schilling through their efforts to make Tandus an environmental leader in the carpet industry. Bridger and Schilling were challenged to keep Tandus 2010, their blueprint for the company’s 2010 environmental goals, afloat through acquisitions and international expansion. Case A asks students what Bridger and Schilling should consider moving forward. Case B gives an update on the pathway that Tandus followed from 2002 to 2009.

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Tandus 2010 (B): Race to Sustainability (M. Milstein and S. Hart with J. Buffington) 2006.

Description: This case describes the strategic and environmental challenges at Tandus (formerly Collins & Aikman Floorcoverings, Inc.), one of the world’s leaders in floor covering products. Case B gives an update on the pathway that Tandus followed from 2002 to 2009, in particular with its environmental strategy. It discusses such issues as policy changes, the competitive landscape, and Tandus’ new product development. Case B asks students what Tandus’ new CEO, Glen Hussmann, should consider while moving the company forward, especially in regard to its expansion into China.

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Terracycle: Turning Trash into Cash (S. Hart with S. Kurz) 2006.

Description: TerraCycle was founded in 2002 by Tom Szaky, a 20-year-old Princeton University dropout. The company’s flagship product, TerraCycle Plant Food, is liquefied worm poop made from worm-processed organic waste and packaged in reused soda bottles, many of which are collected in fund raising efforts by school children and non-profit groups. Today, TerraCycle is facing its most challenging and exciting hurdles yet. This case introduces students to the concepts of ecocapitalism and the triple bottom line, explores the evolution of the company’s business model and growth strategy, and asks students to ponder what the future holds for TerraCycle’s triple-bottom-line business model.

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Weyerhaeuser: The Next 100 Years (M. Milstein and S. Hart) 1997.

Description: Weyerhaeuser is the world’s largest private owner of standing softwood timber, North America’s largest producer of softwood lumber, and the world’s largest supplier of softwood pulp. The company had spent years investing in a model of forestry they now called Weyerhaeuser Forestry, and looked forward with much anticipation to the ‘Wall of Wood’ that was expected, as high-yield plantations began to come on line over the next decade and produce a seemingly unlimited supply of timber. As the company’s centennial celebration for the year 2000 drew near, Weyerhaeuser wondered what the next 100 years would bring to Weyerhaeuser Company.

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