Marc Le Menestrel
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Business Rational Unethical Behaviors (May 29th & 30st, 2017)

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by Marc Le Menestrel (20/05/2015)

Are we able to temporaliy suspend ethical and emotional judgments so that we can precisely and fully analyze how business behavior can be rationally unethical?

We explore this very difficult endeavor in the context of Shell operations in Nigeria in the 1990s, and the business strategies implemented prior, during and after the death of Ken-Saro-Wiwa.

We then watch an interview of the CEO of Shell and discuss his ability to answer questions (or not), his potential (lack of) capability to consciously face the consequences of Shell’s actions, his (lack of) power to change course should he wish and we compare with our own capabilities or lack of.


Choose one accusation against Shell presented in the complaint presented to the New York District. Suppose it is true and try to identify as precisely as possible what could have been the rational motives to engage in such action.

Required reading

EarthRights International, “Wiwa v. Royal Dutch Petroleum”, Complaint submitted to U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York (edited) (2000-2002).

Boele, R., Fabig, H. and Wheeler, D. “Shell, Nigeria and the Ogoni. A Study in Unsustainable Development: I. The Story of Shell, Nigeria and the Ogoni People – Environment, Economy, Relationships: Conflict and Prospects for Resolution.”, in Sustainable Development, 9, 2001, pp. 74-86.

Optional reading

UNEP, "Environmental Assessment of Ogoniland - Executive Summary", August 2011.

Video to be shown in class

The Guardian’s George Monbiot fierce encounter with Jeroen Van De Veer - CEO Shell on the oil giant’s damaging activities in Nigeria.

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