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Rebecca Ruehle (Wittenberg Center for Global Ethics); Julia Grimm (Wittenberg Center for Global Ethics); Andani Thakhathi (Wittenberg Center for Global Ethics); Philipp Schreck (Wittenberg Center for Global Ethics)
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27 pages
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Field research


The case deals with the issue of child labor in the international cocoa supply chain using Nestle as an example. The case begins when two friends, Simon and Linda, get into a public disagreement over a Nestle Kit Kat bar at a supermarket checkout. On the one hand, Simon is convinced that consumers ought to boycott Nestle by refraining from buying their products until the company eradicates child labor from its supply chain. On the other, Linda believes that Nestle cannot eradicate child labor, as the situation is far more complex; this leaves her skeptical of what she sees as Simon’s oversimplification of the matter. This leads to the central contention, which the case seeks to help participants deal with in future situations, namely: how to reconcile normative ideals with empirical conditions. Simon’s radical recommendation of boycotting Nestle is rooted in the normative ideal that children should not work at all, while Linda empathizes with Nestle based on the empirical conditions that make it impossible for Nestle as a company to single-handedly eradicate child labor. The case study gives participants a practical tool with which they can address complex ethical problems, taking into consideration both norms as well as the empirical conditions. It helps them to create a complete ethical argument in business ethics. Such a tool offers a pragmatic approach to addressing ethical organizational issues in a manner that takes both the ideals and the reality into account without ignoring one or the other.


Child labor; Pragmatist position; Idealist position; Child exploitation; Complete ethical argument; Corporate social responsibility; Supply chain management; Cocoa industry; Chocolate production; Business ethics; Responsible management

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