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Great Lakes Great Decisions: An Analysis

Essay by   •  February 5, 2012  •  Case Study  •  1,378 Words (6 Pages)  •  2,441 Views

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Great Lakes Chemical Corporation, a company that has been on the receiving of pressures from many outlets throughout the world, for the effects of its production of lead additives. There has been a great deal of effects on so many levels, from social/demographic, technological, economic, environmental/geographic to political/legal/governmental. In order to perform a thorough analysis of this case, an individual investigating would need to present documentation that shows how the company's production of these lead additives has affected the abovementioned segments. Originally founded as an "oil and gas exploration company, known then as McClanahan Oil Company, it became the Great Lakes Chemical Corporation in 1948, when CEO Charles Hail acquired the company in an effort to turn it into a natural resources conglomerate"(Hitt, Ireland, Hoskisson, 2011). The company's overall structure was intended to, as stated focus on oil and gas exploration, primarily focusing on the extraction of bromine from underground salt water brine deposits, but one the acquisition of the company was made and renamed Great Lakes Chemical Corporation, the company changed its structure from the focus of oil and gas, to the production and research of bromine-based products. With this change in structure, the company took a huge risk in relation to enviromental effects.

According to one source, "Great Lakes is the largest U.S. methyl bromide supplier in the U.S. producing more than 40 million pounds annually at their El Dorado, Arkansas plants. Great Lakes Chemical's involvement in the bromine business has its roots in leaded gasoline. When tetraethyl lead (TEL) was invented as a gasoline additive back in the 1920s, it was found to leave a corrosive byproduct in the engine. Adding ethylene dibromide (EDB) to TEL solved the problem. As leaded gasoline began to be phased out in the U.S., Great Lakes developed international markets for its products. Globalization of leaded gasoline makes TEL responsible for nearly 90 percent of airborne lead pollution in Third World cities. Some EDB in leaded gasoline converts to methyl bromide when burned. The World Meteorological Organization has determined that the continuing exhaust from automobiles using leaded gasoline is one of the three potentially major sources of atmospheric methyl bromide. Great Lakes was a major producer of polybrominated diphenyl ethers. These compounds were marketed as flame retardants until they were banned in Europe. These persistent compounds can mimic the effect of thyroid hormones, and interfere with reproduction and nerve and tissue development".

The effects from this in regards to the social/demographic and the environmental/geographic spectrums are the dangers it presents to the people within them. Individuals within these spectrum applied a multitude of pressures to the corporation to halt their production of lead additives. This pressure presented an image of the company that was troubling. The company's response to the concerns of the people this affected, came across a bit insensitive, Great Lakes argument for not halting production of the lead additives dealt primary with its concern of loss of profit. When they acquired Octel, their intentions were not to become a "lead producer". They acquired Octel Associates "for its capacity to produce bromine, while Octel used that chemical to produce additives, it was the intention of Great Lakes used the chemical in other products such as color stabilizers and fire retardants. Although these were the intentions of the company, it is documented in the case study that the company was more than willing to take on the "ethical and public relations challenge the production of lead additives would present, just to reach a certain "bromine-producing" capability" (Hitt, Ireland, Hoskisson, 2011). The parallel to the situation was a double-edged sword so to speak, the halt in production would be non-beneficial to Great Lakes, but beneficial to the those individuals in the social/geographic and environment/geograpic spectrum.

Great Lakes stood strong on their argument that the halt in production would result in a loss of profit for their company, essentially putting a strain on the economy, because if the government were to acquire lead additives they would have to from the those developing countries

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