Topic: Undecided

I’ve been bouncing a few ideas around for paper 2 and I’m looking for some insight from anyone kind enough to comment!

Option 1: 

TOMS Shoes is a company that often receives much praise. However, I’ve always been troubled with the sustainability of their business model. TOMS shoes seems to have built a model that is dependent on people in need of shoes. Instead of remedying a problem at its root, they’ve created a quick fix with the BOGO model. (BOGO = Buy One Get One aka One for One model.

TOMS is a for profit organization with a subsidiary called Friends of Toms’ which is a non-profit. The organization was founded in 2006 by Blake Mycoskie after he was inspired during a trip to Argentina. Since its inception the shoe model has been expanded to include coffee and eyeware. These new additions are founded on a more sustainable model because they provide real fixes (i.e. clean water for 1 week per bag and donations to restore eyesight per glasses).

The main criticism with TOMS is that providing donated goods undermines the economy of developing nations and hurts local business. It creates a system dependent upon external aid. This organization has the potential to really make a difference if they can figure out how to provide jobs and invest in economic development in the areas they are looking to help. TOMS has pledged to move 1/3 of its manufacturing to regions that receive aid by 2015, but I don’t think this is enough.

Option 2:

The spaces in which we work largely influence our ideas, interactions, and productivity. I’m interested in combining the things I’ve learned in my Sustainable Building Design, Urban Planning, and Markets Innovation and Design classes with the Stakeholder Organization.

It is proven that ideas and innovation flourish in spaces conducive to collaboration. I’d like to study the effect of office spaces (think Google and Facebook) on productivity and innovation. Tech companies have become famous for offering employees perks (like free lunches/dinners) and investing in unique office spaces with the hopes of seeing a return on their investment in the form of ideas. However, some accuse these companies as spending on these things to avoid taxes. Recently the IRS has been discussing taxing free meals and other perks offered by these companies. I think it is an interesting ethical dilemma to delve into more deeply.


I’ve identified books for each topic (Blake Mycoskie: Start Something that Matters and Steven Johnson: Where Good Ideas Come From)

Additionally I’ve used Hoovers, Google Scholar, and WorldCat as research resources


10 responses to “Topic: Undecided

  1. Option 2 would make for a unique analysis because the topic of office environment applies to all organizations. It would be interesting to assess the way different companies and departments/functions decide how to structure their physical corporate spaces.


  2. These are both very interesting topics and I think you would have a great paper with either. I agree with Colleen and think option 2 may be an interesting analysis of your education so far as these are many of the core classes for your major.


  3. I also think that the second option would make a stronger paper. I think that Jordi has said that each semester at least one student writes about Toms Shoes so I think the second option would give you more of a unique paper.


  4. Emily I really like both ideas! I definitely agree that number 2 would make for a more interesting and unique paper. Do you have an idea of which company you would focus on?


  5. I agree with Kerry that I like option 2 better because I feel like it is more unique. It also seems like you have enough background in this topics to know what you want to look for. I think picking one company to focus on would be good because I am worried the topic might be a little to broad.


  6. I think that option 2 would make for a more unique paper. I never considered that companies would provide these perks for tax break purposes but that is interesting, however as an optimist I do think that they make workers enjoy working more and improve the environment.


    • I agree, I personally don’t believe that these perks are driven by tax evasion because the companies who tend to provide them are national and even global leaders of creativity and innovation, so it makes sense for them to develop these unconventional offices that facilitate that way of thinking. Either way, it would definitely still be relevant and interesting to talk about the ethics of the IRS’s decision to begin to tax those perks. Is it unfairly targeting and discouraging/inhibiting the creativity of our most innovative companies? Is there greater benefit to be derived in the long-run from the innovations or from the tax revenue generated by these companies?


  7. TOMS would be fascinating, but it may be overdone. If this sort of social enterprise interests you consider Tegu the toy manufacturer. Also, I read Blake’s book “Start Something That Matters”. It’s a great read, but it’s a primarily a how to guide. You’ll learn valuable information about the company, but it does not answer the ethical questions you raised.


  8. I would agree with what everyone has commented. TOMS is constantly talked about and people are always using it as an example. I think option 2 would be a much more unique and interesting way to go for paper 2. It will probably be more difficult to find information and resources than for TOMS but I think it would definitely be worth it.


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