GSIF Case Study #4

The case study we were presented with for this week was very complicated. There is a business owner named Chetan and he creates many products using a tree called Azadirchta indica, also known as Neem. The business has been in Chetan’s family for generations and has a lot of sentimental value. The business also provides jobs to some of the poorest people in that region of India. Although this business has been in the family for seven generations, not much technical knowledge is known about the tree, just how to make different products with it. It has many uses though, medicinal purposes, food production, toiletries, fuel, and pesticides. Ten years ago a man named Tom Johnson visited the area and discovered that the Neem tree seeds can be used to make a potent pesticide. He then brought this finding back to America and showed it to the group he is the director of, the Oregon Organic Pesticide Services (OOPS). He then got the worldwide patent for Neem pesticide products. OOPS now wants to charge Chetan’s business and many others like his that use the tree royalties for the Neem based pesticides that they all sell. They also want to expand their sales to the Indian market to undercut the prices of Chetan’s and many other business owner’s products. The ethical dilemma is whether or not it should be allowed that OOPS can charge people in India for things they have been using for thousands of years. 

The stakeholders in this situation all have professional and personal motivations. Chetan does not want to pay the royalties because that would hurt his business. He also does  not see the need since they have been using these products for a long time. He would also like to keep his family traditions alive. The employees do not want the company to pay royalties because that could cause job instability or even reduce their pay. Tom Johnson/OOPS want to make more money and expand their reach. They also do not want to make it seem like they can be pushed around by the smaller companies. The neem product users want the cheapest and most accessible product. They would also want to preserve the symbolic nature of a tree that has been considered sacred by both the muslim and hindu population of India. Chetan’s family would want to continue their revenue stream at the same pace and would like to keep the long time family owned business running.

There are multiple solutions to this problem but all have consequences. The first solution would be to do nothing. OOPS only has a patent on the pesticide products that the neem tree makes but neem has over 200 other uses. Instead of fighting a large company, Chetan could simply pivot to the other products. He could also put money towards patenting the rest of the products so that he will not end up in this situation again. The pros to this is that the business continues to run and hopefully they would be able to maintain a solid income and no employees would be fired. The cons of this plan is that the other products might not sell as well leaving a large gap in the income of the employees and Chetan. This could lead to layoffs or even closure. It would also show Chetan’s weakness and he would not be saving face.

The second solution is to fight the legality of the patent and the instilled regulations. Patent laws say that it is not possible to patent a naturally occurring product, just the process to make it or purify it. Chetan would be able to argue with courts to keep selling the products. The possible pros of this is that Chetan saves face and is able to continue selling his product with no regulation. The con to this is that he is arguing against a large company that probably has many lawyers that would fight against him. Losing this battle could also bring attention to the market and it could become saturated with outside companies taking all the business away from. Also, losing a public battle would lose his credibility.

The final solution would be to try and cooperate with OOPS so that the company stays in business. They could sell or lease products to the company for them to sell and he could keep the employees. The pros to this is that it creates a good bond with a big company and could increase sales. The cons is that he and his employees could still be out of a job if the deal goes wrong. It would also ruin his reputation because he is bowing to the outside company.

In my opinion, the best solution is to continue selling the other products and work to get the patent on them. It requires the least amount of money going towards arguments and can increase income around the world if other people want to sell these kinds of products. Obviously, sales could drop and problems could arise, but these are the same problems that occur in every scenario. This could hurt business in India though, because other companies might go under giving to a vacuum of the industry that OOPS might fill and grow to control that region.

The second part of this case study has more information. It is six months later and OOPS has expanded into the Indian market and is gaining a lot of wealth. Chetan will have to layoff half of his staff by the end of the month if he does not figure something out. Chetan has spoken to Tom Johnson asking him to pull out of the market but Tom refused but he is willing to collaborate as long as he gains more wealth. Some Chetan’s employees saw these talks and thing that Chetan is working with Tom so they became very angry and are threatening him. If the business went under, Chetan would be fine though because he comes from a relatively wealthy family. The dilemma in this situation is what should be done.

The stakeholders and their motivations are the same.

The solutions are collaborate with OOPS, offer severance to the employees, and sell the company to OOPS. If Chetan were to collaborate with OOPS, he might be able to negotiate a deal where the employees are able to keep their job. This could work because OOPS would then be able to expand into the Indian market much faster. This would hurt Chetan because he is losing the business and might not get a job. It would also mean that the generational business would be sold to a corporation.

The second solution is offer severance to the employees. This has some pros because the employees would not be as made and maybe will not attack him. Chetan would be able to save face a little bit and he would not lose the business that he has worked so hard for. If employees are unable to find a job, they might go work for OOPS and tell them all the ways to produce the other products.

The final solution that we came up with was to sell the company to OOPS and fire all the employees. Although this is a somewhat heartless option, it would make Chetan’s family more money. With the full sales of everything, Chetan would make a lot of money. The cons to this solutions are that Chetan’s employees would be extremely angry and might attack him. He could also get burned on the deal since he does not have higher education like the people at OOPS probably do.

Overall, the best option seems to be working with OOPS to help expand the market and saving the employees. The steps to do this would offer Tom Johnson ways to make money by showing him the other products that are bought often. That would show him that there is more money to be made and would most likely get him to sign a favorable deal that would keep the employees. Chetan could also make money off this deal because he would be able to profit off the sale if he is able to work it into the deal.

GSIF Case Study #3

This week there was a case study about malnourished children. About 35% of kids are malnourished because they are fed gruel when trying to ween them off breastfeeding. The parents of the children think the gruel is effective but it is not. There is also the problem the HIV/AIDS is very prevalent in this region and the more breastfeeding done, the higher chances that it is transferred to the child. There is also the problem that not much testing is done, the known rates are probably lower than the actual one. A grant was just received to solve this problem by getting crops to make a nutrient based pudding. 500 women are willing to help and make a cooperative. The problem is that the crops can have pesticides on them which would give adverse effects to the kids. The women are skeptical of this method because they believe the gruel works. So the ethical decision that needs to be made is let the kids breastfeed and possibly get HIV/AIDS or create a porridge that could have pesticides. There might be other options that will be explored in the rest of this post.

There are many stakeholders each with professional and personal motivations. The mothers want to find an effective solution that will stop kids from getting HIV/AIDS but also keep kids nutritious but they also want their kids to be healthy and safe and believe that what they are doing is already correct. The women’s coop has the professional motivation of a positive impact and has the personal motivation of bringing a stable income home. The innovators have the professional motivation of wanting to make a safe environment for kids and empower women and the personal motivation of this is to get recognized for their work. The local government has a professional motivation of wanting the economy to grow and a personal motivation of wanting a better standard of living for its people. The local farmers have motivations to make money if their food is used for the gruel and lose money if it is not.

The utilitarian solution to this problem is to give the kids porridge and forget about the pesticides for the time being. AIDS/HIV is a larger threat to the children than most things that could be encountered through the produce so worrying about that is more important. The pros of this approach is that the kids are much less likely to HIV/AIDS and they will be nourished from the porridge. The con of this approach is that the children might be poisoned and have long term side effects from the pesticides used to keep bugs off the crops.

The deontological approach is that the porridge should be made with food from farms that don’t use pesticide. The pros of this approach is that there is little to no danger of the children getting poisoned and the chance of them contracting HIV/AIDS is decreased by a lot. The con of this plan is that it would cost a lot of money in order to get this kind of food. It would most likely not be found in the village that the work is being done in and would have to be shipped into the village. This would extra costs of labor and transportation.

The final, and virtue based, approach is to start a farm in which the 500 coop women are paid to farm pesticide free cash crops in order to make the pudding. The pros of this approach is that the women are paid allowing them a disposable income, the babies are given the proper nutrients and the coop flourishes. The cons is that many women do not know how to farm and this could be culturally insensitive to the men in this area if it is tradition that the women do not work. This could cause problems in the household for many of the women there.

I believe that the final solution is the best but there would have to be a lot of work done in order to make it happen. There would have to be a large purchase of land, farming equipment, and teachers who would educate the women on how to grow cash crops. Thankfully most of the crops that will be grown are simple to farm and grow in most conditions. There might also be the problem of a loss of crops due to the lack of pesticide.

The second part of this case study involves working with the women after the coop has been formed. In this part of the study, the coop is thriving and the women are making good money. The crops are sold at the market rate and the women are happy and have a sense of community and identity. The problem is that the income that these women are making is still not going towards feeding the family, the men of the household are taking the money and spending it on alcohol. You are on a committee for the coop but you will soon be leaving so policy changes need to happen fast. The women are not opposed to the men taking the money, they just wish more of it was spent on the kids and not on frivolous things. The local women believe that nothing can be done. The ethical issue is who decides how the money should be spent and how can the twin social outcomes of empowering the women and nourishing the children be met. The stakeholders in this situation are the same with similar motivations other than the men. They probably do not want their money to go away. They most likely also want to keep gender social norms so that they are the head of the household.

The first solution is to exchange part of the pay the women are getting with nutritious pudding so that the men can still take a share while the child is still getting the nutrition that it needs. This could work because the men are given money and the women are able the feed their children. The con is that the men might be upset that they are getting a smaller amount of money now and might take it out on the woman of the house. This could lead to domestic disputes.

A second solution is to find jobs for the men outside of the coop that directly help the coop, like distribution or stand worker. This could help as it gives the men a source of income that he can spend on anything while the woman is given her proper salary and is able to feed her family. The con to this, is that the man still might take the money and continue to use it on frivolous things. This could lead to problems due to the fact that now he has more money to spend.

The final option is to keep part of the payment for the women and create a system similar to a savings account. The women are able to deposit and withdraw parts of their payments as time goes on. This would give the women more control over how the money is spent because they decide when the money is coming in. This could empower the women to take control of their households. This could also upset the men as they would not have the power anymore and that could lead to problems in the household and domestic disputes.

I believe that the best solutions is to give the women part of their payment in the form of food. This would put the blame on the coop rules as a whole and not the woman herself, making the man less likely to get angry. This would also still give the man some money to use. The child would be nourished as well.

GSIF Case Study #2

During class this week, we were presented with a case study about an American student trying to maintain relationships with two different groups. Jack, an American student, is working at a youth center in Kenya for 5 months. There was an event where the children were given gifts, but four children were excluded from receiving these gifts and were only given a black hat each after the ceremony. The children who were excluded blame Jack for the slight against them. When Jack brought this problem up to the staff they did not understand that there was a problem and told him that he could fix it on his own.

The problem Jack is facing is that he has to work at the youth center for the next 5 months. Some of the children are angry with Jack and could hold a grudge, but if he goes out his way to help them, the youth center workers could get mad as they believe he is exacerbating a nonexistent problem. The next steps that Jack takes are very important.

There are three immediate stakeholders in this case study. Jack, the youth center employees and the kids. Some of the  stakeholders have both personal and professional motivations. Jack wants to help the kids as much as possible and and have everyone see him in a positive light. He also wants to maintain relationships with the staff though. The youth center employees do not see a problem in the gift exchange and do not view it as being unfair. They might not believe that this a problem that is worth dealing with. Personally, the youth workers probably want the best for the kids, but believe that there are probably bigger problems that need to be dealt with. On a professional level, the youth workers probably do not want to be criticized by some American student who is only going to be there for five months while they have been working there for many years. The kids are motivated by social pressure. The kids who were given the hat as a gift instead of a toy want to feel that they are equal to the other kids and want to try to avoid getting picked on.

The three solutions that we thought of for this problems are:

  1. Give the four children who did not originally get a gift the same toy as the other kids.
  2. Give the excluded kids some type of leadership role in a public setting in order to give them social value to the other kids.
  3. Work in collaboration with the youth center workers in order to educate them about the problem and then plan something small but nice for the four kids who were left out.

The first solution, to give the excluded children toys, has pros and cons. The pros are that there is equality and each child is given the same toy. If the new toys are presented in a public setting as well, then there is no difference in what is received and how it was received. The cons to this plan is that the other kids might get mad that some children received both a toy and a hat while they only received a toy and then the cycle starts all over again. The youth center workers might also get mad that Jack went behind their back to solve this problem. This could have good and bad implications on his relationships. The kids could be happy with the gifts received and move on or they could continue to be angry. It would show that Jack cares about the kids which could help in the future. If the center worker approve of Jack’s plan, then they might appreciate his work, but if they feel insulted his relationship for the rest of the 5 months could be awful.The long term affects of this plan is that the kids could see that Jack cares for them and this would make his research easier. The short term affect is that some kids and workers might not like Jack.

The pros for the second solution are the kids could feel equal again and it could show the workers that Jack listened to them. The cons is that kids might get upset that they did not receive a leadership role. The original four kids might also only care about the gifts and could still be upset. This decision could impact the relationship with the kids because this gesture would show that Jack cares for these kids, but it might also make the rest of the kids feel less important. The long term affects of this decision could make it easier to deal with a similar situation in the future if it ever arises again. In the short term, the workers might be angry with Jack because they did not believe there was a problem to begin with.

The pros of the final option are that the workers will not feel like Jack went behind their backs, it would teach the workers how to better deal with these situations, and the 4 excluded kids feel valued by both Jack and the workers. The cons are that the kids might get mad they others get and extra “event” and the youth workers might not appreciate Jack lecturing them. In the long term, the workers and kids will have a better appreciation for Jack and could make the 5 months much better. In the short term, the kids will feel important but the other kids will be jealous.

In order to decide, my group agreed on a point that helped us choose our best option: most people care about social standing more than the monetary value of things. This is why I personally believe that the best option is to give the kids a leading role to boost their social standing. This could be implemented by selecting a simple activity that all the kids love and allowing those 4 kids to lead it.


GSIF Case Study #1 Ethical Research

This week in the GSIF lecture, a case study was presented to us. If we were a research group studying pathogens in the water of Lesotho who need people to drive us around, what is the ethical way to conduct this research and if not why is this not an ethical test. In order to understand the problem, there were certain factors that needed to be addressed. First of all, the people transporting you in this scenario do not need to be paid. They can be if that is how you decide to conduct the research. There is also the caveat that the test is simple and cheap the only work is getting there which is why you need the townspeople.

The first step to solving this problem was understanding what we know. There is a disease causing pathogen that we are here to research. We are in a developing nation that is not as industrialized as the US. Many people are involved in the research and have to be transported. The townspeople are necessary to the research in order to show where the water sources are. After the research, it is possible to develop chemical additives to the water in order to make the water more safe to drink.

The next thing to address were the stakeholders. AKA, who gains from this research and how. Us as researchers are a stakeholder in that we want to gain information and help people. Community members are also stakeholders because they want to be able to drink the water and not become sick. Publishers who are looking to bring the research to a larger audience have a stake in this research as they want to show off what has been done. Grant funders have a similar motivation as they want to see that they have invested their money in the proper people. The government of Lesotho has a vested interest to make their people healthier and give them a longer life. Finally, healthcare providers in the region have interest in the project in order to better care for the people around them.

The three options that my group came up with were, pay the community members for their time and fuel, compensate with things other than money ie. food, or don’t pay them at all.

The first solution seemed the most ethical. It is based on a duty-based way of thinking. The pros to this is that it builds good relations, engages with the community, and builds a proper relationship between you and the people. The cons this this way of thinking are that it can cost a lot, fair pay between everyone could be difficult to ensure, and people might ask for money every time for anything.

Compensating with something other than money is the next option. This is virtue-based thinking. The pros of this option is that there is compensation but it would not be as costly as cash. This allows for the feeling of rewarding for their time which is extremely important. This also involves zero calculations since everyone will get the same things. The cons this is that to some, anything other than money could be an insult and people who are doing more work might get mad that they are getting the same thing as those doing less work.

The final option is to pay everyone nothing. This is consequence-based thinking. The pros to this way of thinking is that it saves money, maximizes the grants, and allows for those funds to be used for more important parts of the venture. The cons are that people will feel alienated, some people will get made, people might not help you at all, your reputation in the town could be ruined, and the data collected to be useless if people don’t help.

The first plan seems the most ethical and is what my group chose. With this comes a few things that need to be figured out in order to give proper payment. First of all, the average pay of any community member needs to be calculated from the market value. Secondly, mileage, wear and tear of car and determining rates based on what people currently pay needs to be figured out.

This is the most ethical plan due to the fact that the stakeholders are also benefitting from the research and not down the road. This will help relations with the people and allow for further research and good data.

GSIF Blog Post #1

Over the course of fieldwork there were many areas where I changed in both personal and professional ways. In addition to that, I learned much about the career path that I want to follow in the future.

3 Personal Things learned:

  1. Personally, I learned how much stress I can take and how I handle exceedingly high amounts of it. When working in country, tensions are always running high as everyone scrambles to get as much work done before we have to leave. There were obviously some moments when we had downtime and were able to relax, but most of the time everyone was working hard towards a common goal.
  2. I also learned how welcoming of a culture Sierra Leone has. I was expecting more pushback from locals to work with foreigners who wanted to come in and change everything, but they were all happy to welcome us in. Many were excited to hear what we had to say. I like to think I am a person with no bias but I went into this work with some preconceived notions that were immediately proven wrong. I learned that those kinds of judgements can only be made through personal experiences.
  3. I also believe that I grew in my ability to understand how some people think. Spending 20 days straight without any separation with people allows you to see who they really are. I think this experience has given me a greater insight into how people perceive how I act towards them and how their actions show what they are thinking. I might be wrong but who knows.

3 Professional Things I Learned

  1. Professionally, there were many ways in which I needed to grow in order to contribute to the Ukweli venture. I think the most important professional growth was learning to pivot. Problems can arise that affect the core structure of projects and being able to turn and take the project in a different direction than originally thought is extremely important. When we were told that our marketing license was on hold and would only be processed after three months, we were all devastated. We were able to pivot though, and start a community mobilization effort until we are ready to launch.
  2. Networking is an extremely important asset when working in a foreign country. Building connections with important people quickly is a valued skill that can allow a venture to grow. While working with community health officers and community health workers, creating well founded relationships is extremely important.
  3. My final professional growth is that I learned to work in a hierarchical society. The culture in Sierra Leone values people in positions of power much more than others. Without approval from a superior, most people can’t actually do anything. Coordinating communication between the people we were working with and their superiors proved to be a difficult task, but was an important skill to learn.

3 Lessons I Learned

  1. I learned that in Sierra Leonian culture, time is seen in the same way as we see it. People there take their time with everything, their conversations, their organizing, even their walking. It was often commented that us “apatows” walked way too fast. Their concept of time is more based in doing things right and enjoying the time while the American mindset frames time as something that the most amount of things need to be shoved into.
  2. Sierra Leone has an extremely physically touchy culture. Walking through the market, people all around us would touch us and shake our hands even though they were complete strangers. Often a handshake wouldn’t end until the end of a conversation with someone. It took some getting used to as the US is a puritan based society and still carries that in its culture now.
  3. I learned a lot about how deeply the belief in traditional healers are. Some of the people who worked at World Hope International believed in some of the methods of the healers. This was a strange thing to find out. As I asked more I found out some of the healers methods were based in fact, like certain herbs have properties that can help with headaches and stomach aches and stuff like that. There were other methods that were a little bit more gory that I won’t go into detail about but they are not based in as much fact.