November 3, 2016

DanPhifferSince its founding in 1973, the outdoor apparel brand Patagonia has strived to make quality goods in an ethical manner. This combination of strong values and superior products has allowed the company to grow into an $800 million brand. But over the years Patagonia has run into a number of roadblocks in their quest to “build the best product” and “cause no unnecessary harm.” For example, in 2010 an animal rights group revealed that the company had been buying goose Continue reading

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October 25, 2016

MicheleM.FIsraeli entrepreneur Yekutiel Sherman had a great idea for a product: a selfie stick that folded seamlessly into the back of a smartphone’s case. He spent a year carefully designing his idea, producing prototypes and securing small investments from family and friends. By December 2015 Sherman launched a Kickstarter campaign in order to finish funding the item, now called Stikbox. But while the project immediately attracted investors, his popular crowdfunding campaign also caught the attention of Chinese bootleg manufacturers. Within Continue reading

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September 23, 2016

Although drone deliveries are still a few years away from becoming a reality, automated machines are already having a big impact in other parts of the supply chain. This short but visually rich video takes a look at the robots made by a company called Symbiotic and the ways that they have streamlined operations at a grocery warehouse.

Questions:

  1. What makes Symbiotic’s robots more efficient than human workers?
  2. Will worker robots from companies like Symbiotic eventually replace human labor?
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September 8, 2016

MichaelBentleyAlmost 95 percent of all manufactured goods arrive at their destinations in shipping containers. These freight boxes often begin their journeys aboard enormous cargo ships that transport items around the globe. Normally this process is simple enough: a ship pays a docking fee upon arrival along with additional charges for unloading and container storage. In the case of South Korea’s Hanjin Shipping Company, however, this common process has been halted. After filing for bankruptcy protection last week, ports across the Continue reading

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February 10, 2016

airplaneFor the airline industry, the last few decades have been more like a rollercoaster ride than a smooth flight through calm skies. Enduring consistent losses as well as the occasional bankruptcy, companies began making deep cuts to basic services in order to keep costs down. Meanwhile, airfares continued to skyrocket even as in-air amenities started disappearing. Now it finally seems like all that belt-tightening is paying off: last year the four biggest domestic carriers together earned about $22 billion in Continue reading

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January 29, 2016

Chipotle enjoyed years of rapid growth thanks in part to its heavily marketed commitment to fresh ingredients. However, that established image has crumbled over the last few months as the burrito chain grapples with a major E. coli outbreak at its restaurants. Chipotle’s problems began in summer 2015 when customers began falling ill in California and Washington. Attention then shifted across the country to more than 140 Boston College students who received food borne noroviruses from a local Chipotle. By Continue reading

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January 20, 2016

Last year we featured a post about the unfortunate case of Texas plumber Mark Oberholtzer. In need of a better truck for his business, he took his old Ford F-250 to a local dealership and traded it in for a newer model. The plumber didn’t give the transaction a second thought until about a year later when the complaints started rolling in. Due to the extraordinarily complicated nature of the global auto resale market, Oberholtzer’s truck somehow ended up in Continue reading

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November 15, 2014

This video reveals some of the unpleasant origins behind the world’s most common products and highlights the importance of understanding supply chains.

 

Questions:

  1. Have big companies improved work standards in their supply chains?
  1. Should consumers be involved in making sure supply chains are managed humanely?

From We the Economy

 

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October 17, 2013

For many of today’s conscientious consumers, it’s not enough for a product to be simply affordable and effective. Environmentally minded diners, for instance, prefer to know as much about the origins of their food as possible. That’s why so many modern restaurants make sure the names of their organic and artisanal suppliers appear as prominently on menus as the dishes. Now the trend is expanding out of the culinary world and into retail as more and more clothing companies use Continue reading

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