We might all take a lesson from Apple Computer’s dilemma at a factory in China that assembles its slick touch screens for iPads and iPhones. The factory might be far away, and governed by far different worker safety rules, but that didn’t keep Apple off the front page of a recent New York Times with this headline:
If it’s not obvious already, if you work at a company that sells goods to consumers — you can expect to be held accountable for the activities of your entire supply chain — as well as the disposal of your products after use.
Of course, this example also points out one of the risks of deep strategic relationships. If the Chinese company, Wintek had been selling to many U.S. technology companies, Apple might have escaped the headline. But Apple has created a supplier network that it treats as extensions of itself — and as a result, must accept some responsibility when things go wrong.