Case Study: Nike

Jun 18th, 2015
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Alabama State University
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CEO Phil Knight is struggling to rebuild the shoemaker from top to bottom It's hard to say exactly when Nike Inc., one-time corporate brat, began to transform itself into a pillar of the community. But it may have been during a meeting in 1998, at a time when the company was under attack for allegedly exploiting overseas factory workers. Nike, in its usual maverick style, had initially tried to slough off the issue. But now, as managers argued over whether to raise the minimum age of workers in those factories from 14 to 18, Nike Chairman and co-founder Philip H. Knight ended the debate with a surprising call: Just do it.

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Case Study: NikeCEO Phil Knight is struggling to rebuild the shoemaker from top to bottomIt's hard to say exactly when Nike Inc., one-time corporate brat, began to transform itself into a pillar of the community. But it may have been during a meeting in 1998, at a time when the company was under attack for allegedly exploiting overseas factory workers. Nike, in its usual maverick style, had initially tried to slough off the issue. But now, as managers argued over whether to raise the minimum age of workers in those factories from 14 to 18, Nike Chairman and co-founder Philip H. Knight ended the debate with a surprising call: Just do it.The issue became a galvanizing force for both him and Nike. One of Corporate America's true free spirits, the brash Knight had long cultivated an aloof, even arrogant, style. When the outcry over working conditions in Nike's overseas factories started in the late '90s, he glossed over the complaints, claiming he had little control over suppliers.But as protests mounted on college campuses, Knight seemed to snap to attention. Suddenly, he was scouring the negative press coverage for errors, writing college presidents about the issue, and bringing in Maria S. Eitel from Microsoft Corp. as vice-president for corporate responsibility. "Phil made clear from the day I started that this is a huge priority," says Eitel.These days, Knight is plugged into Nike's operations like never before. He has little choice. The backlash against Nike's labo

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