Between Medicine and Management: Saving the Canadian Red Cross

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CASE STUDY. This case describes Pierre Duplessis’ arrival in the position of Secretary-General and Chief Executive Officer of the Canadian Red Cross at the time of a major organizational crisis spanning several years, during which the Red Cross had to answer for its role in Canada’s tainted blood scandal.

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Description

Between Medicine and Management: Saving the Canadian Red Cross: Abstract

Between Medicine and Management: Saving the Canadian Red Cross is a case study by Chantale Mailhot and Marie-Ève Desormeaux.

This case describes Pierre Duplessis’ arrival in the position of Secretary-General and Chief Executive Officer of the Canadian Red Cross at the time of a major organizational crisis spanning several years, during which the Red Cross had to answer for its role in Canada’s tainted blood scandal. Several countries, including France and Australia, were affected by the scandal in the 1980s, but Canada was particularly hard hit. Between 4,000 and 5,000 people in this country contracted HIV and another 20,000 to 30,000 people contracted hepatitis C following infected blood transfusions.

By the time Dr. Pierre Duplessis took up his new position at the Red Cross, the situation had become untenable for the organization and provincial governments: the Red Cross had been stripped of the blood program that it had coordinated since 1940, program which was to be transferred to a new agency. The crisis that Pierre Duplessis had to overcome turned out to be significantly greater than the task for which he had been mandated, i.e., the transfer of the blood program. He was forced to take measures to save the organization from bankruptcy and to deal with criminal charges brought by the RCMP against the Red Cross.

Teaching objectives

The main objective of the case is to address the subject of crisis management and management of complex issues. It raises a number of questions regarding crisis management upon taking office and crisis management in cases involving highly complex issues (ethical, legal, etc.).

Main themes covered

  • Leadership
  • Crisis management
  • Decision making

Concepts and theories related to the case

  • Leadership
  • Crisis management
  • Decision making

Additional information

Also available in French.

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