The Case on leadership dilemma at Timberland



Critically analyse the provided management case study : The Case: A leadership dilemma at Timberland.



Balancing between the corporate social activities (CSR) and economic growths of the organization is quite challenging. Extensive focus on the community development can reduce financial profits for an organization. On the contrary, participation in community development can help the organizations to create a base of loyal customers and employees by developing a positive image of the organization (de Jong & van der Meer, 2017). Timberland, a footwear manufacturer, faced the same dilemma. However, top management of the organization focused on continuing the CSR works even when the organization was facing economic difficulties. Although the strategy worked in case of Timberland, the dilemma of the managers is still not solved. The current assignment deals with analysis of the ethical dilemma faced by the managers and identification of the recommendations for them.


Question 1: At which level of personal moral development do you think Jeffrey Swartz, the CEO of Timberland operates?


The CEO of Timberland operates at the level 3 of moral development (The level of post conventional morality). The level of post conventional morality is focused on universal principles of ethics (Lunenberg et al.2016). People operating at this stage apply the universal principles of ethics in their actions. The post conventional morality level indicates that the individuals operating at this level put value on the opinions of others while taking decision. However , the individuals operating in this level of moral development gives the maximum focus on ethics and can violate the conventional ideas to incorporate own sense of justice in their works.
 In case of Timberland also, the CEO focused on incorporating own sense of ethics in his activities. He gave the most importance on his own sense of ethics and continued investing on the CSR activities irrespective of economic condition of Timberland. It indicates that the CEO takes his decisions on basis of the post conventional morality.


Question 2: . Identify the different stakeholders of Timberland and what their expectations are of the company.


The different stakeholders of Timberland are -- the customers , employees, the investors and the community. The customers of the organization are interested in getting quality products. However, the customers prefer purchasing products from those organizations which operate ethically and have a good image.
Employees are another important stakeholder of the organization. The employees are interested in getting their needs fulfilled by the organization (Park & Lee,2017). The employees show interest in an organization if they get chance for both professional and personal development in an organization. In case of Timberland, the interests of employees were fulfilled partially as some of them got chance for personal development.
The investors are interested in getting adequate returns on their investments (Rangan et al.2017). In case of Timberland, the interest of investors was not fulfilled due to poor economic performance. The community’s interest is getting support from the organizations in development. As Timberland management focused on participating in CSR extensively, the interest of community was also fulfilled.


Question 3: We have studied the GLOBE Project’s rank order of countries relating to their national value systems. With these rankings in mind, do you think Timberland would have met with less resistance if the company was founded in Mexico or Thailand?


Motivate your If the business shifted to Mexico or Thailand, it may experience less pressure because of its focus on community development. Both the nations, Mexico and Thailand give high importance on value-based leadership and humane-oriented leadership (, 2018). In Thailand, the focus on humane-oriented leadership is higher than Mexico. Therefore, operating in Thailand would be more advantageous in Mexico.


Question 4: Analyse Timberland’s total social performance by applying the four total corporate responsibility areas to the company’s behaviour?


Economic responsibilities: Although Timberland experienced economic issues, the organization finally managed to bear the economic responsibilities by earning profit.
Legal: The Timberland management focused on meeting legal compliances especially in terms of labor laws in all the situations. It not only helped the organization to develop an extremely loyal workforce, but assisted the organization to fulfill its legal responsibilities as well (Abugre & Nyuur, 2015).
Ethical: The Ethical responsibilities carried out by an organization depend on the values of its leaders. Such responsibilities typically include providing the employees with secured working environment, fair wages or operating in a sustainable manner etc (Arora, 2016). In case of Timberland, laying off some employees can be considered as the violation of ethical responsibilities. Philanthropic responsibilities: The philanthropic responsibilities of an organization include its responsibilities towards the society. In case of Timberland, the organization fulfilled this responsibility by serving the community extensively. 

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Question 5: Write a mission statement which you think will support Timberland in defining the basic purpose of their organisation.


The mission statement of Timberland may be:The organization focuses on serving its customers, community by providing quality products and services while remaining profitable and ensuring overall personal development of employees.


Question 6: If you were Jeffrey Swartz, how would you answer the people who are critical of the way you are leading the company? What recommendations would you make to
ensure that Timberland will meet their ethical responsibilities in the future?


The decision of CEO for continuing the community development works were criticized a lot. However, the decision helped the organization to develop a loyal workforce and loyal base of customers. Retaining the talented employees is critical for remaining profitable. Similarly, having a loyal customer base is also important for earning profit (Rangan et al.2017). In case of Timberland , both the workforce and customer base helped it to solve the economic issues. So, it can be stated that the CEO’s decision was right.
Recommendation for meeting ethical responsibilities in future: 
Recruiting temporary employees: laying off the employees and sending works off-shore I causing ethical dilemma for Timberland. In order to cut cost in future, the Timberland management can hire contractual employees. It will help the organization to control size of the workforce as per business needs without creating any ethical dilemma.



The discussion indicates that the Timberland’s CEO focused on philanthropic responsibilities and the strategy worked well. However, the organization still has some ethical dilemmas which can be controlled by hiring temporary employees.


Abugre, J. B., & Nyuur, R. B. (2015). Organizations’ commitment to and communication of CSR activities: insights from Ghana. Social Responsibility Journal, 11(1), 161-178.
Arora, R. (2016). Enhancement in Employee Skills and Benefits to Employees and Organization with respect to CSR Initiatives. JIM QUEST, 12(2), 39.
de Jong, M. D., & van der Meer, M. (2017). How does it fit? Exploring the congruence between organizations and their corporate social responsibility (CSR) activities. Journal of business ethics, 143(1), 71-83. (2018). 2004, 2007 Studies - GLOBE Project. Retrieved 29 March 2018, from
Lunenberg, K., Gosselt, J. F., & De Jong, M. D. (2016). Framing CSR fit: How corporate social responsibility activities are covered by news media. Public relations review, 42(5), 943-951.
Park, C. S., & Lee, Y. (2017, January). The Effect of Local Stakeholders Pressures on Responsive and Strategic CSR Activities: Evidence from Korean MNEs. In Academy of Management Proceedings (Vol. 2017, No. 1, p. 17500). Academy of Management.
Rangan, K., Chase, L., & Karim, S. (2015). The truth about CSR. Harvard Business Review, 93(1/2), 40-49.

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