Thursday, October 27th, 2016
Ip access

Ausgabe 22 (2016)
Ausgabe 21 (2016)
Ausgabe 20 (2015)
Ausgabe 19 (2015)
Ausgabe 18 (2015)
Ausgabe 17 (2015)
Ausgabe 16 (2014)
Ausgabe 15 (2014)
Ausgabe 14 (2014)
Ausgabe 13 (2014)
Ausgabe 12 (2013)
Ausgabe 11 (2013)
Ausgabe 10 (2013)
Ausgabe 9 (2013)
Ausgabe 8 (2012)
Ausgabe 7 (2012)
Ausgabe 6 (2012)
Ausgabe 5 (2012)
Ausgabe 4 (2011)
Ausgabe 3 (2011)
Ausgabe 2 (2011)
Ausgabe 1 (2011)
Business Councils
Academic Networks
Research Institutes
CSR reports
Call for Papers
New Publications

Use CSR NEWS also through the following services designed for your needs:

Daily News per Email

Weekly News per Email

Become CSR NEWS-Friend
on Facebook !

CSR NEWS updates
through Twitter


Cecil the Lion shows how reputational risk has gone global

Friday, July 31st, 2015

LionAs of this week, Walter J. Palmer of Minnesota, is pretty much obviously the worlds least-popular dentist. Palmer recently shot — as part of what he says he thought was a legal big-game hunt — a lion whose home was a protected national park in Zimbabwe.

There are some lessons for business in this tale. Even though Palmer wasn’t in Zimbabwe to “do business,” as a tourist he was none the less engaging in a commercial transaction.

The first and most obvious lesson involves the risks of doing business overseas, where it is all too tempting to rely on the guidance of locals to tell you what’s legal and what’s not. Palmer says he “relied on the expertise of my local professional guides to ensure a legal hunt.” The temptation to rely on quick advice from locals is obvious, but it’s a foolish mistake, particularly when those locals have a financial interest in painting a particular picture for you. The risk here is clear. But how far do you need to go in making enquiries? Anyone doing business overseas has to figure out just how far to go in ensuring the legality (broadly speaking) of various aspects of their business. Is this product legal here? Have you got the right permits? Is paying that fee really on the up-and-up?

The second lesson has to do with the difference between what’s legal and what’s ethical. Palmer believed he was conducting a legal hunt. But what’s legal isn’t always ethical, especially in countries with underdeveloped regulatory systems. The fact that a practice is legal doesn’t imply that you’re doing the right thing, that you should be proud of yourself, or that you’re not going to be subject to well-founded criticism.

Next, there’s a lesson here about ethical disagreement. There is deep and genuine disagreement over the morality of certain practices. Hunting lions is one of those practices, but there are others. Birth control is another. So is refusal to bake a cake for a gay couple. So the fact that you are personally absolutely certain that a business practice is ethical doesn’t mean that others are going to agree.

Finally, there’s a lesson about the vulnerability of businesses to critique in an age of social media and online business ratings. The source of criticism lies in the 2 points just above, namely ethical critique and moral disagreement. But the effect of such critique and disagreement is amplified in a world in which your customers as well as the general public can post online messages about you, more or less with impunity. The Yelp page for Palmer’s dental practice has apparently been flooded with angry messages. Twitter has been awash with criticism, and the story has (partly as a result) received widespread media coverage. The doors to his practice are closed, and it’s not clear whether he’ll ever practice dentistry (in the US) again. He will forever be “that dentist who killed the poor lion.”

Maybe Palmer will need to flee to a developing nation. It would indeed be a kind of irony if the only place Walter Palmer can practice dentistry, in the coming years, is a place like Zimbabwe — a place where social media plays a smaller role, where dentists are needed but seldom get wealthy, and where hunting big game is a significant and tempting form of economic activity.



Chris MacDonald

Chris MacDonald is Associate Professor in the Philosophy Department at Saint Mary's University (Halifax, Canada). He is also Coordinator of SMU's M.A. Programme in Philosophy and he runs the The Business Ethics Blog.


CATEGORIES: +english | +Research Institutes | Business Ethics Blog by Prof. Chris MacDonald | Newsflash


266 other articles by

© 2005- | CSR NEWS GmbH | CSR NEWS ist ein Projekt des Vereins Unternehmen - Verantwortung - Gesellschaft e.V.
Contact: editors@csr-news.net | Phone: +49 (0) 2192 – 8546458
Disclaimer | Legal Notice | Powered by WordPress | 0.685 seconds | web design by kollundkollegen.