Global Supply Chain Analysis

Global Supply Chain Analysis


The case study gives an account of the many challenges facing Apple as a key company in the telecommunication sector. The case gives accounts of the company’s buyer and supplier relationships, treatment of the workers in the firms supplying Apple with smartphone development components, and the public outcry over the poor working conditions of the workers. The case study gives the reaction of Apple’s top management such as the founder Steve Jobs and the CEO Williams due to aired documentaries by BBC Panorama program, China labor watch, and Daily telegraph (Lee, Mol, Mellahi, 2016). The case study also gives concern to the US government over the loss of jobs in the United States due to Apple outsourcing of its key products parts in China and other developed nations. The case study gives the challenges Apple faces as a company due to different operational terrain in the overseas country due to legal, political, economic, and sociocultural climate from the United States.

Corporate Social Responsibility

Corporate Social Responsibility activities help any business entity including Apple to give back to the society and gain a better reputation in the operational environment leading to higher sales and customers’ loyalty. When the corporate social responsibility touching on employment treatment is viewed as contributing to the betterment of their welfare, it gives the company the upper hand against its competitors. As such, the employees who are assured of safety and good working conditions become more motivated to work for the company. Further, employees who are well compensated and have normal working hours with a bonus for overtime worked will be more productive in the company (Lee, Mol, Mellahi, 2016). Thus there will be no go slow or conflicts between the employer and the employees’ trade unions over improvement in working conditions. For example, in the case study, it is pointed out that employees work for 16 hours for 18 consecutive days. Still, the same employees are compensated at US 1.50 per hour as the employer seeks to maximize profitability. This results in high turnover in Foxconn and Pegatron factories that are major suppliers of Apple products parts.

Public Opinion

The media played a vital role in painting Apple as a company that is not committed to keeping its promise, a company that supports unfair labor practices among its suppliers, and committed to maximizing revenue against better working conditions in the supplier’s companies. The media was mainly focused on the commitment Apple made that was not fulfilled by their suppliers rather than turning their eyes on the suppliers (BBC News, 2014). Moreover, the media based their comments on Apple’s inability to meet its commitment as the leader rather than looking at the ills facing other players like Samsung and goggle in the industry some of which used the same manufacturing plants as Apple. This made consumers view Apple in bad light rather than look at it objectively as the trends in the whole industry being replicated by major players.

The blame on poor labor practices should have been apportioned to manufacturers such as Foxconn and Pegatron rather than Apple since apple honored their part of the bargain and compensated them for products supplied or services rendered. Therefore, in normal business practices, the manufacturers were entitled to compensate their employees for revenue generated (Lee, Mol, Mellahi, 2016). Moreover, the media would have done better if it analyzed the social-economic conditions that are driving such a level of unemployment that apple sought to address by having manufacturing plants in China. As a business leader, it is important to relate with media positively and realize the effect it can have on business profitability and reputation.

International Business Relations

The perception created about poor employee treatment as being due to Apple’s failure rather than the plants such as Foxconn and Pegatron where the practices were perpetuated points to change dynamically in international business relations and supply chain management (BBC News, 2014). Thus, in the international business arena, the buyer is expected to look beyond profits margins and play role in promoting fair labor practices in the supplier’s operations. As such, the business benefits from a better reputation due to fair labor practices in its supply chain and corporate social responsibility.

Advantages and Disadvantages of International Business Labor Practices

The labor practices help in the creation of jobs in countries with a high population of unemployed people with the requisite skills. However, the international labor practices results in the flight of capital in some countries as the manufacturers look for cheap labor. Thus, it results in poor compensation of workers and poor working conditions.

Road Ahead

Apple should focus its attention on improving its reputation due to the perceived promotion of poor labor practices. This can be realized by signing contracts with the suppliers on fair labor practices such as minimum wage, and provision of good working conditions that are safe and conducive for workers. The contract should include a clause on improved living quarters for workers and reasonable working hours. Thus for workers who work above the normal working hours, they can be compensated in form of bonus pay.


BBC News, (2014). “Apple Accused of Failing to Protect Workers,” YouTube video, 3:03, December 18, 2014, accessed December 17, 2015,


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