Responsible consumption
Virtual issue

The CASE Journal

WaterHealth International in India: crafting sustainable solutions for potable water

The case features WaterHealth International India (WHIN) – a subsidiary of WaterHealth International (WHI) Inc. WHIN was launched in 2006 with the vision to "be the leader in providing scalable, safe, and affordable water solutions to underserved populations through an innovative business model." The company incorporated a Build-Operate-Transfer model with decentralized production and distribution. Following a successful pilot project, WHIN installed its WaterHealth Centers in 175 sites throughout rural India by 2009, and attracted a $15 million investment from the International Finance Corporation to further expand its operations in India. Mr Vikas Shah, the Chief Operating Officer of the company, is faced with the issue of assessing scalability and sustainability of the company's business model. He needs to examine and evaluate the company's value proposition, resources and capabilities, and decide how to generate economic value while maintaining a focus on its social vision. The latter entails an ability to create shared value for stakeholders as an important contributor toward the company's sustainability. Additionally, Mr Shah is evaluating alternative public-private partnerships in terms of their suitability for the Indian context and viability to drive profitability.

Authors: Hristina Kostadinova Dzharova, Sudheer Gupta and Jai Ganesh

PSEG and the promise of wind power

Scott Jennings, a Vice President at PSEG, the diversified New Jersey-based energy company, was the project leader for a large commercial wind farm that was to be built off the coast. The project, Garden State Offshore Energy, a joint venture between PSEG and Deepwater Wind, an experienced developer of offshore wind projects, had been announced over six years earlier, in late 2008. In the time that had passed, the Garden State Offshore Energy project team had waited for the New Jersey Bureau of Public Utilities, which had been tasked by Governor Chris Christie to evaluate the project costs before it could authorize the actual construction of the wind turbines. Justifying the project on a cost basis proved to be difficult; despite the growing public sentiment in favor of projects that utilized renewable energy sources such as wind power, the Garden State Offshore Energy team was unable to move the project forward. Scott needed to decide whether it made sense to continue to hold regular meetings with the Garden State Offshore Energy team. Scott’s colleagues suggested that Scott speak with senior management at PSEG to find out if the resources that had been dedicated to the Garden State Offshore Energy project could be shifted to other projects that might be more feasible.

Author: Stuart Rosenberg

Cow comfort: A case study in sustainable entrepreneurship

The case is set in Northeast Wisconsin, where the two largest industries are dairy farming and papermaking. Dairy farms have a continual need for bedding material for cows, and Lynn Heemeyer recognized an opportunity for a new bedding material: a waste byproduct of recycled paper. The case includes the progression of Heemeyer’s venture – Alternative Animal Bedding (AAB) – from the idea phase, to initiation and growth, to near collapse, recovery, and renewed growth. By September 2015, AAB was at a turning point as the sales were increasing, and Jess, Lynn’s daughter, had joined the business. Jess’s challenge: how best to grow the business.

Author: Joy M. Pahl

Sorry, no carnitas: Balancing "Food with Integrity" and growth at Chipotle

In January, 2015, Chipotle stopped serving pork at a third of its 1,800 restaurants due to its discovery that a pork supplier was not meeting Chipotle's "Food with Integrity" standards. This case examines the trade-offs Chipotle faced in maintaining its focus on sustainable ingredients as the chain grew rapidly. Demand for healthier ingredients by others in the industry and scalability problems in sustainable agricultural production suggested that supply shortages and higher prices were likely threats to Chipotle's continued rapid growth. Could Chipotle maintain its commitment to "Food with Integrity" when the supply of sustainable foods failed to meet demand or should the company just buy available ingredients regardless of farming methods?

Author: Rebecca J. Morris

The Macheke Sustainability Project

Molly Madziva, who was born in Zimbabwe, was sent by her family to the USA to attend college. When she graduated in 2000 there were no jobs for her in Zimbabwe, as the economy was among the weakest in the world. While working as a software engineer at Bell Labs in New Jersey she decided that she wanted to help the people in her village of Macheke, the majority of who were farmers. Her idea would be an ambitious one. Molly called this the Macheke Sustainability Project. Molly met with various stakeholders who had an interest in the project. Following a thorough situation analysis and the formulation of a list of strategic initiatives, the major decision that she was left with was how to most effectively go about handling the implementation of the project. Her options included: a project within the Institute for Global Understanding at Monmouth University where she was enrolled as a graduate student; a non-profit business located in the USA; a non-governmental organization (NGO) located in Zimbabwe; and a private business in Zimbabwe. Each of these options had clear benefits. Molly was torn, however, as to which she should choose.

Authors: Stuart Rosenberg, Susan Forquer Gupta and Moleen Madziva

iDE in Nicaragua: quest for sustainability

International Development Enterprises (iDE), a non-profit organization, won numerous awards for its poverty alleviation efforts through the sale of low-cost irrigation technologies to the Base of Pyramid (BoP) farmers around the world. This case discusses iDE’s entry into Nicaragua and the challenges this global social enterprise faced in bringing drip irrigation and other water technologies to the rural subsistence coffee farmers in Nicaragua. It presents the tough decisions it faced in 2012 regarding the future of its for-profit social business, iDEal Tecnologias, in Nicaragua. This case captures the tension in hybrid social enterprises.Authors: Vijaya L. Narapareddy, Nancy Sampson and S.R. Vishwanath

Philadelphia’s taxing decision: pros and cons of a "soda tax"

This case study focuses on the imposition of the controversial "soda tax" on sweetened beverages in the City of Philadelphia in 2017 and considers the economic lessons that can be learned from Philadelphia’s experience with the tax. The tax was proposed as a way to raise the city’s revenue while reducing obesity. After the tax was enacted, the sales of sweetened beverages declined in the city, but increased outside the city’s borders. The receipts from the tax have been below projections.

Authors: Paul Byrne, Dmitriy Chulkov and Dmitri Nizovtsev

Johnsonville Sausage LLC: finding new opportunities beyond the pork commodity markets

Kevin Ladwig, Vice President, was concerned by the expanded production of ethanol, an attractive supplement to gasoline in the USA. Because most ethanol is processed from corn, expanded production of ethanol heightened the demand for corn. Since corn is a staple feed ingredient for animals, heightened demand for corn increased the cost of Johnsonville’s raw material – hogs. In fact, the cost of feed was Johnsonville’s major economic input in animal production from farrow to finish, accounting for up to 70 percent of the total production cost of hogs. The case introduces the nexus of food and energy markets and how the "Johnsonville Way" was used to convert an old idea into an innovation.

Author: Keith D. Harris

PZ Wilmar and palm oil expansion to West Africa

In 2014, PZ Wilmar announced a new oil palm business worth $650 million in Cross River State, which would aggressively expand Nigeria’s palm oil production. In July 2015, a year after the plan was announced, a report jointly released by Friends of the Earth US and Environmental Rights Action Nigeria alleged that Wilmar was not complying with Nigerian laws, and accused them of human rights violations, environmental destruction, fraud, and land grabbing. The multifaceted nature of the "Cross River State crisis" permits "close-ups" from different vantage points to analyze the economic, environmental, social, and governance implications of palm oil expansion from a corporate sustainability perspective.

Authors: Maria Jose Murcia and Joleen Timko

"Charmingly delicious": childhood obesity and General Mills’ dilemma

In 2010, approximately one-third of US children and adolescents were classified as at least overweight, with 17 percent classified as obese. In addition to other causes, the marketing and advertising of food directly to children was identified by a Task Force on Childhood Obesity as a contributing factor. As a result, food industries began to self-regulate. Consumer advocacy organizations developed guidelines for advertising products targeted to children. Cereal companies, such as General Mills (GM), struggled with whether or not to adopt those standards. GM began to change both marketing and product advertising in small ways. The changes were considered steps in the right direction, but GM continued to be under scrutiny of advocacy groups. This case addresses the struggle of General Mills to make changes to product nutritional content and/or marketing and to address the societal concern about childhood obesity while also meeting responsibilities to consumers and shareholders.

Authors: Eric D. Yordy, Nita Paden and Katlin Bryant

Winds of change in Klickitat County: the Harvest Wind Project

This case features a county planning director as he approves or turns down a permit application for the Harvest Wind Farm Project, located in Klickitat County on the Columbia Plateau in Washington State. The utilities involved and Klickitat County stood to benefit through new revenue generation and a favorable federal construction grant associated with the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, and certain landowners stood to make substantial royalties. However, other landowners were also worried about declining property values, environmental groups had raised objections to the effect of turbines on the pristine Columbia River view, and uncertainty about health effects had recently become more of an issue. Nationally, "wind turbine syndrome" and "shadow-flicker" effects had been linked to wind farm operations. Given these concerns and the uncertainty, would the gains to stakeholders justify signing off on the project?

Authors: Michael Phillips, David Watson, Bill Barnes and Howard Feldman