Mike Buetow

Consumer pressure on corporate behavior is cyclical and typically short-lived. Consider “dieselgate.” Volkswagen for years rigged the emissions testing on certain vehicles to appear to meet state and national standards. Confronted with the discrepancies, VW management lied in what would be a futile attempt to cover up its wrongdoings. The transgressions cost the carmaker more than $30 billion in fines and penalties. At the time, it looked like a major hit to the company’s reputation.

We are in an era where focused consumer pressure has the potential for immediate worldwide impact. Primed by social media, buyers have never held so much broad sway. Will this this newfound power to drive electronics industry decision-making?

The nongovernmental organization China Labor Watch routinely pummels Chinese-based manufacturers for mistreatment of workers and labor law violations. The leading media companies in the world pick up its investigations. Yet its efficacy in changing corporate behavior is murky.

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