De Beers and the Diamond Industry: Squeezing Blood Out of a Precious Stone

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CASE STUDY. This case addresses the dark side of contemporary capitalism on many fronts. The case focuses on two distinct areas: ethical issues related to the diamond industry and ethical issues related to De Beers.

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De Beers and the Diamond Industry: Squeezing Blood Out of a Precious Stone: Abstract

De Beers and the Diamond Industry: Squeezing Blood Out of a Precious Stone is a case study by Peter Stanwick.

This case addresses the dark side of contemporary capitalism on many fronts. The case focuses on two distinct areas: ethical issues related to the diamond industry and ethical issues related to De Beers. Both sides of civil wars in Africa use diamonds in order to finance military operations. These are called “blood” or conflict diamonds since they originate from an area in which there is internal military conflict between the government and at least one group that opposes the government. Rebels in various African countries have used murder, maiming, rape and slavery to ensure the continuous flow of diamonds from conflict areas. The case also focuses on the power of De Beers, which for many decades controlled 90% of the world’s diamond transactions. De Beers has been accused of using its power to intimidate both buyers and sellers of diamonds globally for nearly a century.

Teaching objectives

This case can be used in both undergraduate and graduate level classes. It is suitable for management courses that deal with:

  • Management ethics/corporate social responsibility
  • Business policy and strategy
  • Organizational behaviour
  • Labour relations
  • Organizational theory

Additional information

Teaching notes are available for professors. Contact the HEC Montréal Case Centre.

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