The Most Dangerous Woman in America: Paula Deen's Ethical Issues

By Holland, Phyllis G. | Journal of the International Academy for Case Studies, February 2013 | Go to article overview

The Most Dangerous Woman in America: Paula Deen's Ethical Issues


Holland, Phyllis G., Journal of the International Academy for Case Studies


CASE DESCRIPTION

"The Most Dangerous Woman in American" is Paula Deen who was described in these terms by one of her fellow chefs on the Food Network. Ms. Deen was originally criticized for the unhealthy ingredients which she featured in her recipes, but the criticism increased when she announced that she had been diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes. In fact, Ms. Deen had amassed considerable wealth with her unhealthy recipes and was viewed by some as promoting an unhealthy lifestyle. Since obesity is a risk factor for diabetes, she was accused of hypocrisy in that she continued in her usual mode three years after her diagnosis. She added insult to injury by timing her announcement of her diagnosis to coincide with her affiliation with a new diabetes drug. She became the target of criticism for allegedly promoting the kind of food that is a risk factor for diabetes and then capitalizing on a drug endorsement for the treatment.

The case provides a forum for discussion of the ethics of a decision that was personal but had business consequences. The issues of how to move past this crisis has an ethical dimension as well. This case has a level four difficulty. Seniors in Strategic Management courses are encouraged to consider the ethical aspects of decisions. This case allows both analysis in hindsight of what might or should have been done and requires decisions about how to maintain brand loyalty going forward. …

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