Dow Corning Silicone Crisis Analysis

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When you think of benchmark cases in crisis management, certain names come to mind immediately. Johnson & Johnson's handling of the Tylenol crisis is a great example of crisis management and has become a benchmark of how to handle a crisis. The Dow Corning silicone breast implant crisis has become a benchmark of how not to handle a crisis. There are a number of valuable lessons learned from this particular crisis. Both crises dealt with public health and safety issues, but both were handled very differently. Because of this, Dow Corning's reputation and image suffered considerably. As a result, Dow Corning is still suffering today from a crisis that began in the late 1980s. The company filed Chapter 11 bankruptcy in 1995 and is undergoing major corporate changes to recover from the crisis. Much of this irreparable damage began small and could have been contained. The very first lawsuit filed against Dow Corning for faulty implants was in 1977. This means company officials were aware that there would be problems over a decade before the actual crisis occurred. Issues management could have played a key role in detecting this problem. Dow Corning is accused of manufacturing unsafe silicone implants and marketing them to the public, even though company officials knew they had potential to be dangerous to women's health. Thousands of women have filed claims against Dow Corning saying their ruptured silicone breast implants were the cause for very serious health problems. As of now, there is no conclusive scientific data that supports or denies this claim. Many studies conducted failed to find a statistical correlation between silicone implants and auto-immune diseases they supposedly caused. With scientific evidence on their side, the company believed that its main defense of relying on that evidence was sound and rational. The public's perception during times of crisis is not rational, therefore; the public didn't accept the scientific evidence. This...
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