In the business world there are so many ethical dilemmas where ethics is the main essential fact on figuring out what is right or wrong, and then finding the right thing to do in an a conflict. One main ethical dilemma in a business company is the substance of Resistol, a glue that was created by the H.B Fuller Company.
The glue contains TOLUENE, a sweet smelling chemical that destroys parts of the body organs causing death. For many years, The Fuller company faced many problems about their product in Central America, specially in Honduras and Guatemala. Many children were addicted to this product by inhaling the glue, which caused them to be paralyzed or dead, because of the chemicals contained in the glue. However, the Fuller company counts with some alternatives which would help them fix this problem.Who is affected Children and youth people were the most affected by this glue. Most of these children and youths were people who didn’t have a family.
For example, children who used to be homeless or were living in bad economic situations. All of these children and teenagers were consuming the glue as a drug to feel better. However, there were several cases were most of these children were having diseases because of the inhaling of this product. According to the article ” H.B. Fuller and the Street Children of Central America” by Manuel Velasquez ” Occasional inhalation will produce nosebleeds and rashes while habitual use produces numerous disorders including: severe neurological dysfunction, brain atrophy, loss of liver and kidney functions, loss of sight and hearing, leukemia, and muscle atrophy.” Despite, of all these problems the Fuller company was making good profit with this product around the world. However, Guatemala and Honduras are two countries where poverty is one of the main issues in their society and where this glue was more consumed by children.
Throughout the years by selling this product the Fuller company started to faced many complaints about this issue. In the article “Latin America Glue Abuse Haunts H.B. Fuller” by Paul McEnroe, states that ” Fuller is accused of knowingly making an Extremely addictive product that causes severe physical and neurological damage to thousands of Central American children, not doing enough to prevent the glue from getting to the children, failing to warn of the dangers of inhaling the product and refusing to add deterrents that would keep children from inhaling it”. In other words, people were accusing Fuller for the death of many children because of this product. After receiving all these complaints, the company decided to stop selling the glue in Central America specially in small business. However, “in September 1993 the company revealed that although it had stopped selling its glue to retailers it had continued to sell the glue to industrial customers who were willing to buy it in large tubs and barrels” (Velasquez).
We believe that the company was really affected in many ways by this problem because it was not Fuller’s fault that most of the children were inhaling the glue. For instance, one effect that could be possible for stopping the sale of this glue is that Fuller might lose some of their customers that believe that if they have this type of glue, they might be involved in the deaths of some children and most of them will not like or want that. Another thing is that in Honduras the company paid social workers to work with these children who were suffering of this disease and addiction. The Fuller company was very affected by this issue however, they worked hard to fix this problem and kept selling their product with danger announcements. Options After having too many complaints and conflicts from people and retailers about the effects of this glue in children. The company stepped out and decided to fix this problem by removing the product from the market. However, most of the shareholders and stockholders from the company as well as Fuller were unhappy with this agreement, which lead them to search for other options without removing the product. Even though this product was a problem in children, there were some businesses that required the use of this product for their merchandise and keep their businesses running.
Another thing was that they “insisted that it was not responsible for the way its glues were being misused and that if it were to remove the Resistol from the market, the children would merely begin to use one of the toluene-based products of the other companies selling glues in the region” (Velasquez). In other words, it was not fair for the Fuller company to remove the glue because they would had lost profit and revenue in the market while others will keep selling and being benefited by the product. One option that they came up with was that they “announced that it would increase the price of its glue by 30 percent to price it further out of the reach of children”(Velasquez). This is a very good positive option from the company to raise up the price of the glue, although, a better suggestion can be for Fuller to keep an eye on the businesses where they subsidise their merchandise to take the risks and avoid selling this glue to children or people under the age of 18 years old. Another thing they can do is to state the danger and consequences that this product could cause if it is inhaled by not just children, but anyone. Another option that the HB Fuller company suggested was to change the formula on the glue. “The toluene in the glue was replaced with the chemical cyclohexane which smells less sweet and is less volatile than toluene, although like toluene it too produces an intoxicating high and has similar effects on the body.
However, because it does not evaporate as quickly as toluene, it takes much longer for cyclohexane to produce similar concentrations of fumes” (Velasquez). The company thought that by doing this change could keep children away from this glue because of the different new taste that the product will carry now. However, one con could be that if this product can still get the children high or feel good when they inhale it. They will keep sniffing this glue until their body can’t support it anymore or until death. On the other hand, the less they feel the symptoms in their body the more sniffs they will take until they hit intoxication. Another negative consequence that this change can bring for the company is that the glue will not be strong enough as it was before because of the less or low chemicals that it will contain.
This could be a big impact in the company since there will be a few buyers that wouldn’t like to buy this product because it will not work and it will not be sticky enough to hold things properly. Buyers will not be able to have what they want or would not be fully satisfied with the results of this glue. This could affect the company in many ways because they would spend and lose a lot of money to find other ways to keep their customers satisfied. Also, the company could go down and be at risk of losing everything such as sales and being in a bad financial position. One last option that will be good for the company and a suggestion to Fuller, is to stop selling the glue to retailers or small business. Fuller should sell the glue only to big companies or main distributors where this glue is require.
Even though, the company will have less or more earnings they will be getting their profit no matter what. Personally, I don’t blame Fuller for the deaths of many children because of his product. The company is not morally responsible for people who chose to use this product for other things or the wrong way. I think that it’s the parents responsibility to take care of their children and to see what they’re going through. All he does for the company is to sell and distribute his product to the entire world where it can be useful and it’s not the company’s responsibility if the Central American children are not using the glue correctly.
It’s people’s own decision on how they want to use the product. AlternativesIn order for the company to get rid of all these problems, one good option for Fuller is to remove the product from the market. Removing the product from the market might stop killing those children in Central America who are addicted to this glue. Even though, the company will lose profit, revenue or going down financially rather than been blamed for the deaths of those children.
In the article “Wealth of Nations” by Adam Smith, one of his main theories is “to do what’s best for the society from the company “. In other words, this is a good option for Fuller to do because his company might be recognized for sacrifice their employees leaving them without a job or going down in the market just to save those children who are dying because of this addicted glue. This could be a very big impact for the company, although they have the opportunity and chance to develop other type products to sell which would not bring these type of consequences or issues in the company. In the other hand, one second option that could benefit Fuller instead of removing the product from the market which will cause his company to fall down is to change the formula in the glue. This is a better option to do because it’s the company a social responsibility to take actions of this issue in order for them to keep running their business.
Even though, it’s not the company fault that children in Central America does not use the glue how it suppose to be use and other small businesses letting children buying this product without an adult knowing the consequences. Fuller’s company have to look for some other options that will not involve them in those cases. In the article “The Social Responsibility of Business is to Increase its Profits” by Milton Friedman he states that, “This is the basic reason why the doctrine of “social responsibility” involves the acceptance of the socialist view that political mechanisms, not market mechanisms, are the appropriate way to determine the allocation of scarce resources to alternative uses”(Friedman). Nevertheless, there will be some businesses who would not agree with this idea just because the glue will not be stronger than it was before. Also, changing the formula does not guarantee the company to stop those children of keep inhaling the glue. But, at least Fuller will keep his company running and continue searching for other options that will not make him lose his buyers or customers. What Fuller is trying to do is to save his company by not shutting it off and keep these children away from the diseases of this glue. One main theory that could work in this scenario is the duty to save because like i said above it’s the Company social responsibility to look for other options that will keep them away from problems with the law or government because of its product saving lives.
Overall, this option is a very good alternative for Fuller to do instead of going out in the market by removing his product. It will have some consequences based on the product because its content will be totally different but it will be for a good reason such as, saving children’s lives not just in Central America but in all the world where people could start doing these type of things too. One last option, that could work best for the Fuller company is to stop selling the glue to small retailors or businesses that allow children to buy this product. This is one stronger option that Fuller will be beneficiary from it because he would not have to deal with the other options which are removing the product from the market or changing the formula in the product that will harm his company financially. One of the main purposes for Fuller is to keep his image in a good form in the market because all he does is to distribute his product to customers or business where this glue is necessary for labor or other things rather than been sniffing by children .According to Lisa Whitehouse in the article of “Corporate Social Responsibility: Views from the Frontline”, she argues that “Companies should evaluate their charitable contributions exclusively in terms of documentable benefits to shareholder value and consider charitable contributions a part of the company’s advertising and marketing expenditures”(pg.
282). Furthermore, There are many small businesses who receive this glue by other companies from which Fuller company sell it, especially in Central America. This is where Fuller is affected because it’s not his moral responsibility and fault that these small businesses sells the product to children. The company should stop selling their glue to these type of businesses because they don’t know the consequences that could cause to the company. Fuller should only sell his product to big businesses who are not involved in these type of issues.
Having only big companies buying Fuller’s product will maintain the company in a good standing in the market. If other companies wants to sell the product to other businesses, they should remove the name or logo of Fuller company from the product and not make him responsible for the damages or consequences that may bring or cause in the future. This is the best option that i suggest Fuller to do because this could save his reputation and his company. At the same time, we know that most competitors will take advantage of this problem and will start selling their products to those small businesses without caring what consequences could cause. But, I recommend Fuller to keep away from this type of businesses because all they do and want is to sell their merchandise to any customer without caring about the environment or society. This option will keep fuller away of been blamed for the deaths or diseases from these children in Central America. After discussing all these possible options and decide what’s best for Fuller to do.
I encourage him to choose the best option for his company. One weak option that he have and would not want to do is to remove the product from the product because that’s what his company stands for, to distribute and subsidise its products for things that require this product. So, option two which is changing the formula could be the best option instead or removing the product.
Although, changing the formula will reduce its sales or losing buyers but, at least he will still be in the market fighting with other competitors. On contrary, the best option that he could do is to discontinue his product to small businesses. I believe, this is the best option I encourage Fuller to do because he will only negotiate with big companies and after selling the product it will not be under his responsibility where those other companies will sell or use the product. This alternative might bring pros and cons in the future but the company would still be in shape and subsidising its merchandise around the world. Overall, going through all the issues that Fuller had in Central America on children about his glue, we ended up deciding which alternative is the best for him in order to keep his business running in the market.
One main theory that is sophisticated in this ethical dilemma is Social Responsibility. Since ,the company was founded and started to subsidise their products around the world, its purpose and responsibility has always been to gather GDP from its product. “H.B. Fuller had total revenues of $1.243 billion in 1995, up from $1.
097 billion in 1994. Profits had totaled $392 million in 1995 and $354 million in 1994. Founded in 1887, the company was now a global manufacturer of adhesives, sealants, and other specialty chemicals, and had operations in over 40 countries in North America, Europe, Asia, and Latin America”(Velasquez). In other words, the main goal and responsibility from this corporation was to continue distribute their product to other businesses and make it bigger around the world. In the other hand, Fuller’s product was a big impact of achievement in Central America, especially, Guatemala and Honduras. “Latin American operations were much more lucrative than its operations elsewhere around the world. According to the company, it has profits of about $450,000 a year from glue sales in Central America”(Velasquez). Social responsibility is a main theory here because all businesses requires and depends on corporate structuring and one obligation that this company had was the product liability for the consumer.
Despite, Children from Central America was using this glue to intoxicate or kill themselves, the company kept his product in the market. After the knowledge of this issue in children, Fuller and the Honduran government worked together to fix this issue because it was their responsibility to keep children away from this addiction or buying glue from small jars. “In November 1989, a Honduran government commision recommended that the new law be scrapped and that the government should concentrate on controlling distribution of the glue and providing education on the dangers of inhaling the glue”(Velasquez).
The Fuller company worked so hard to overcome this ethical dilemma. Even though, it was not Fuller’s fault for this situation that occurred in these children on how they were using the glue, he, like all his employees and shareholders in the company did what they could to not get rid of the product. They were morally responsible in searching for new alternatives in which they could avoid this problem.