This lesson was inspired by an article in "Fortune" magazine, "Why Companies Fail," May 27,2002. Its focus is on the relationship of business ethics to business bankruptcy or near failure. Students participate in a simulation by assuming the roles of either members of an inquirery board or by assuming the roles of the chief executive officers of a selected corporation. Internet research is required as students discover some of the causes of corporate failure.
The Triangle Shirtwaist Fire of 1911 was a turning point for employee health and safety protections in the U.S. Students investigate the Triangle tragedy and how its impact is still felt today. Students identify eerie parallels between the Triangle Fire and more recent workplace events with safety implications – recent complaints of Wal-Mart employee lock-ins, a deadly fire in a North Carolina poultry processing plant in 1991, and a 1993 fire in a Thailand toy factory given the sad distinction of most deadly industrial fire in the world. How can future tragedies be prevented in the workplace? Students assess the costs, benefits and effectiveness of various government and labor actions. They discover that worker safety is a complex issue and there is no one-size-fits-all solution.
“The verdict is in: California’s experiment with energy deregulation is not just a mess; it’s a certifiable failure, according to everyone from the state governor to the very utilities that initially backed the scheme.” This is how Charles Feildman, CNN Correspondent, began his article on January 4, 2001, entitled “The California Power Quagmire”. Has this happened with any other industry? How and why did this happen in California and can it happen in other states? To understand what happened one must look at some simple and basic concepts in economics.
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