What can be learned from DuPont and the freon ban: A case study [Book Review]

Journal of Business Ethics 40 (3):207 - 218 (2002)
Between 1974 and 1988, executives of DuPont, the world's largest producer of CFCs, were confronted with emerging evidence that CFCs were destroying the stratospheric ozone layer. The difficulty that executives face in such cases is that scientific knowledge develops over time and does not necessarily proceed in a straight line toward true conclusions. At the beginning of a new field of research, there is much uncertainty and disagreement among the experts. The solution of the ozone problem required a remarkable cooperation among science, business, and international governments. After looking at the role of DuPont executives in this drama, and the difficulties facing any executive dealing with uncertain science, the paper turns to an evaluation of the field of Business Ethics to see what light it might throw on this and analogous problems. Finally, the paper offers specific suggestions in terms of principles in dealing with uncertain science, and concludes that the course of action that DuPont followed, including some mistakes, can serve as a model for analogous crises.
Keywords CFC's  DuPont  environmental ethics  international cooperation  Montreal protocol  ozone depletion  uncertain science
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