Patagonia: A Critique Essay Samples
The Patagonia example is, indeed, a unique one. Like many companies, Patagonia has been inspired by a personal passion. Unlike many companies, however, Patagonia's business model is hardly replicable. Given company's stated terms of operations right from start – "wouldn't release toxins into riverswouldn't cause nervous breakdowns, nor would it chase endless growth" ("Patagonia: A Case Study") – Patagonia's business model is probably a stand-alone example in garment manufacturing industry for different reasons.
First, Patagonia's stated controlled growth runs against a basic understanding for any business whose main purpose is to drive profit – endlessly. This cannot be more obvious during economic downturns. Second, Patagonia's adoption of an environment-based philosophy and commitment to preserving Earth's ecosystem at whatever cost – her risk of losing reputation and business by openly disclosing information about her manufacturing unfriendly impact on environment when competitors did not do ("Patagonia: A Case Study") – is a an example of a rare executive decision which cannot be made unless under well-timed conditions. Indeed, Chouinard's early awareness of manufacturing impact on environment came during a period when green movement was still off radar. Thirdly, Patagonia's line of business – which focuses primarily on climbing gear (Patagonia) – addresses a niche market whose consumers are driven largely by passion and personal commitment rather than by economic motivations and daily necessities.
Probably, one example stands out as defining of Patagonia's unique market positioning as well as illustrative of how personal ethics and values of founders can positively influence an organization dealing with challenges of start-up and growth. The decision by Chouinard to switch to organic cotton from conventional cotton was a bold step which could have caused Patagonia not only her market share but a considerable source of revenue. Indeed, Chouinard 18-month ultimatum to his managers to execute such a switch is a perfect instance on how management commitment and principled executive decisions can influence a whole organization and reverse a risk-averse morale into one embracing risk for more business opportunities ("Patagonia: A Case Study"). Those who risk, win.
For all Patagonia's efforts, all companies still leave a footprint ("Patagonia: A Case Study"). This is a point where conflicts and controversies most likely to occur among the interests of Patagonia's many stakeholders. In her efforts to keep up with her environmental commitments, Patagonia launches a range of initiatives and campaigns including for example Vote the Environment and Freedom to Roam. The former is a background check on political candidates' environmental records and the latter is an initiative aimed at protecting "corridors" animals use between natural habitats in order to move freely as habitats change. Of course, in catering for Patagonia's base of consumers as well as for broader base of environmentalists, Patagonia is at odds with political candidates whose campaigns are funded by big energy companies. Indeed, Patagonia could at some point be forced to stop similar initiatives under highly influential lobbying efforts from energy industry, a powerful interest group in U.S. political sphere.
Likewise, in catering for pro-environment stakeholders, in one hand, Patagonia's Freedom to Roam campaign is most likely to be at odds with logging and property development industries. By protecting so-called habitats of animals, Patagonia might block logging and property development industries from expanding into areas protected by her initiative. This can, in fact, lead to a cascade of legal, economic and ethical issues including, but are not limited to, land use rights, economic development and animal welfare.
Again, Patagonia's example remains a very unique one. This can be illustrated by Patagonia's performance during what was probably world's worst economic recession in decades. As companies lost revenue, went out of business or filed for bankruptcy, Patagonia has shown unexpected $315 million in sales in 2009 (Martin). Chouinard justified Patagonia's stellar performance by her self-definition. That is, instead of making competitors and industry define what she should do, she defined herself as an environment supporter. Quality is another reason Patagonia remains a market leader. By investing in her reputation, Patagonia managed to keep up with her image – a step hardly made by companies in reality. That Patagonia was debt-free is another justification for her performance, particularly during recession. Of course, Patagonia's reputation as an environmentally-friendly company adds up to her status and ensures her leadership is one based on solid basis and sustained investment.
Overall, Patagonia is a particularly unique company example. Operating against one fundamental purpose of businesses, i.e. profit, Patagonia has managed to weather recessions and negative market influences by her unrelenting commitment to environment against all odds. By pursuing her support for environment right from start, Patagonia continues to exemplify a company true to stated values and objectives.
Martin, Chris. "Patagonia: How to Thrive in a Recession." Gaebler Ventures. Gaebler, n.d. Web. 5 Feb.2015.
"Patagonia: A Case Study." BRAINMASS. BRAINMASS, n.d. Web. 5 Feb.2015.
Patagonia. Patagonia, n.d. Web. 5 Feb.2015.