Case Detail

Case Summary

Firestone Liberia's Battle against Ebola

Case Number: 5-217-257, Year Published: 2017

HBS Number: KE1012

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Authors: Timothy Feddersen; Nilima Achwal

Key Concepts

Business Ethics, Crisis Management, Ethics, Global Strategy, Government Policy, Health Care, International Business, Leadership, Politics, Reputations, Social Responsibility, Society and Business Relations


This case puts students in the shoes of the Ebola response leadership teams of Firestone Liberia and its parent company, Bridgestone Americas, as they worked together to respond to the deadly 2014 Ebola epidemic. While the companies had received positive press for their containment of the virus on their rubber farm in Liberia, which was home to 8,000 employees and 80,000 Liberian citizens, the situation off the property was worsening. With death counts rising and hospitals across the nation closing as staff caught the virus, the Liberian government declared a national state of emergency. The teams now faced the possibility that the government might attempt to take control of the farm's medical center. How could they balance their duty to care effectively for employees against the demands of the Liberian government? Should they try to fend off the government or cooperate to meet the government's demands? Students will learn how to do a methodical situation analysis that considers ethical obligations and strategic implications, and to distill their recommendation into a briefing for senior leadership.

Learning Objectives

After reading and analyzing the case, students will be able to identify and differentiate between strategic and ethical obligations in crisis situations; identify key stakeholders and central issues, and link those to strategic risks; develop crisis management options; and distill the results of a rich situation analysis to create a recommendation and briefing for senior management.

Number of Pages: 17

Extended Case Information

Teaching Areas: Strategy

Teaching Note Available: Yes

Geographic: Liberia, Africa, Global

Industry: Rubber manufacturing

Organization Name: Firestone Liberia, Bridgestone Americas

Organization Size: Large

Decision Maker Position: Vice president of corporate security

Decision Maker Gender: Female

Year of Case: 2014