Nike JUST IN TIME  GAMEBOARD Revised September 19, 2000

1. DENIAL: Nike has no sweatshops now, that's just old news.  Besides we just design and market sneakers, subs are responsible. 2. HIDE n' SEEK: Nike has sweatshops if you can find them. Take our factory tour and you won't find even one. 3. EXCEPTION: Maybe a few, but not so many sweatshops at Nike as there was at one time. Every factory has its problems. 4. EXISTENTIAL No one can define what is a sweatshop? No one can define living wage either. Can you define it?
12. POOR METHODOLOGY: NGO and media studies are laughable science. What scientist would ever take their claims seriously?

Nike's JUST IN TIME  Gameboard          A Sweatshop Response Training Game - Copyrighted by Academics Studying Nike Press here for Game RULES

1. Roll dice 1st time to get a question: 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10  11  12 or


[Random Question Will Appear]

2. FOR YOUR RESPONSE - Roll dice 2nd time to advance along the Game Board squares or              JUST PRESS.

[Random Response Will Appear]

5. CODE OF CONDUCT: Nike's Code does not permit sweatshops. When we find one, subs correct it, or we do not renew their contract.
11. IT JUST TAKES TIME: Sweatshops will end once we build our protocols. You can not expect us to end sweatshops in 18 months. We work with them till they improve.  6. FLA MONITORING: Our Fair Labor Association monitoring is better than your WRC one? Those WRCs have a "gotcha' attitude. 
10. SWEATSHOPS ARE GOOD: They are a necessary step in economic development.  According to the Nike Index, when we leave, the economy is developed. 9. SHOOT THE MESSENGER: Those guys have their ax to grind. They just want to bring back trade unions (or get elected). 8. PRICE WATERHOUSE COOPERS: It takes a good accounting firm to monitor sweatshops. No. we don't know what happened to Ernst and Young. 7. GLOBAL ALLIANCE FOR WORKERS & COMMUNITIES: Part of Nike's comprehensive monitoring program includes focus groups & surveys with workers, plus we include  local NGOs. 
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Nike Just In Time Gameboard is sponsored by Academics Studying Nike Web Site.  The Following is What I Imagine Dusty Kidd Says to Rally his Labor Practices Department - It is a work of fiction written by Professor David Boje. This is not an official Nike Web Site (for more information refer to Nike Just In Time paper and Time and Nike Session of Academy of Management Toronto Meetings). Is this FOR EDUCATION USE ONLY

STORY TIME - Welcome to "Just In Time" boot camp for Nike Labor Practices Department employees.  In order to facilitate your Just In Time training, you have before you a board game, a pair of dice and some little plastic Swooshes in various colors to mark your play. Here are the rules of the Just In Time Gameboard. First a little intro to Just In Time. My name is Dusty Kidd and I will kick it off. Our assistant facilitators are VP for Corporate Responsibility Maria Eitel, and Amanda Tucker and Vedja Manager of our Labor Practices Department. Here you will be trained in how to use 12 corporate approved response templates as tools for dealing with any and all criticism of Nike Corporation.  As you know there is an active campaign of disinformation and propaganda out there. Nike is the victim of this bad press. It is our job to deflate all Nike critique using the 12 responses templates you must commit to memory. If there is anything left that is wrong, then I will take it to Phil Knight. 

What I am about to tell you is confidential. For your ears only. Do not repeat any of this outside this training room. Not because it is untrue, but because it will be misinterpreted and used against us. Just In Time is how Nike responds to critics. We only will promise a change that is "Just In Time" to avoid a media disaster when a university is going to hold a debate about Nike or FLA or licensing, then it is your job to fly there, to call on the local administrators, college paper editor and local media. Give them the facts and use the answer templates to diffuse the situation.  The same goes for the annual boycott Nike days. 

It is not our job to set corporate strategy. That is Phil Knight's job and he only actually makes a change when there is no further opportunity to delay without loss of consumer confidence.  Hell, we have had our critics come out of the woodwork since the 1962 Stanford University term paper by Phil Knight, titled "Can Japanese Sports Shoes Do to German Sports Shoes what Japanese Cameras Did to German Cameras?"  Hey seeking the cheap labor is not illegal, it is good sound and practical business sense. It has been a winning strategic plan for Nike since 1963 when Phil sold Tiger Shoes made in Japan. It's how we make the money we need to pay for the $750 million ad budget we need to buy all those endorsements.  Your average customer does not care who makes their shoes or under what alleged conditions. What is scary is when our focus groups reveal 12 year old girls are beginning to associate Nike brand with the word "sweatshop."  In 1998, we entered 800 classrooms in 10 cities with our "Air to Earth" teaching programs, trying to reverse the propaganda being taught about Nike to kids. It's only a fringe movement using the Internet to harass a winner because they are losers. And they are misleading those 12 year olds. 

"Just In Time" is Nike's official set of template responses to any critic's bogus argument so that we can keep the 1962 strategy in tact.  It's not broke and we are never going to change it. Just In Time means we tweak it now and then.  In 1992 we had to create a Code of Ethics and a Memorandum of Understanding because some Indonesian bureaucrat began letting the press write "bad news" stories about our factories there. It was not fair to single out Nike among all the MNCs operating in Indonesia. Well, some congressman read about a dozen such stories (all unfounded) and created a special commission on sweatshops in the athletic apparel industry. Its in that book about the Swoosh by Jeff Ballinger. Ballinger is some trade unionist guy working out of his basement who got a few AID grants to look at organizing labor. We had to bring them a bone, so we wrote the Code of Conduct and joined Clinton's Apparel Partnership.  They kept harping about monitoring, so we hired Ernst and Young in 1993. Jesse Jackson, the civil rights leader began talking about quota hiring at Beverton, Oregon "how many Blacks are in those managerial and executive positions?" He even went to Indonesia and tried to interview some workers.  So we hired former Ambassador Andrew Young a much more respected civil rights leader to study the situation in Asia. If it wasn't for the Doonesbury cartoon series we would have been exonerated from charges we operate sweatshops.  Then there was the 1997 Ernst and Young report got released to the NY Times. 1997 was a tough year for the Labor Practices Department.  Some lawyer in California got some people to file a class action suit saying our claims about the great working conditions in Nike factories was a form of false advertising. Hey, the judge threw it out in the lower courts, and just recently in the court of appeals.  Phil Knight had little choice but to make a lot of stiff promises in his May 12, 1998 speech to the National Press Club.  We cleaned up that factory in Vietnam, it is no longer a problem. It is just old news.  

Why are we playing this Just In Time game?  The stakes are high.  The coalition of 45 human rights organizations, unions and academic researchers who sent us the "Open Letter To Nike"  titled "the fear, secrecy and repression must end" and dated 22 September 1999 at the Netherlands stockholders meeting represent some 15 countries. Read up on my reply to them dated October 5, 1999.  Now the ringleaders have sent a deconstruction of that letter title "Response to Nike's claims to have reformed it's labor practices" dated 15 March 2000.  It is signed by Campaign for Labor Rights, Centro Nuovo Modello di Sviluppo, Clean Clothes Campaign, Fairwear Campaign, Fair Trade Center, International Textile Garment and Leather Workers' Federation, Justice Do It Nike Coalition, Labor Rights Task Force Nicaragua Solidarity Committee, NikeWatch Campaign, and Textile Clothing and Footwear Union of Australia. My letter sets out "plausible denial" but we are dealing here with a highly organized opposition. 

The Stakes of the Game. Winner takes all. If their shoddy studies and media theatrics succeed in piercing our veil of plausible denial, then those class action lawyers in California will try to haul our butts into court again. I am drafting another deconstruction to their latest letter, but the stakes are getting higher.  Nike is advertising that it has reformed subcontractor practices that violate our Code of Conduct. If we are caught in a lie, without a plausible and believable Just In Time then our veil of deniability is pierced.  That is the Holy Grail these activists and misguided college protesters are after.  You members of the Labor Practices Department must hold the line. Do not let them gain any more ground.  For if the veil is pierced, then the kind of solutions Professor Boje is talking about will be our new battle ground. Can you imagine local de-charter Nike's corporate charter campaigns springing up around the world, false advertising class action suits, and Detournement - whatever the hell that is. It is a lot of radical organization theory, the kind of stuff our department has to stop.

We use stories to fight the opponents of Nike.  For example, I tell you and I really believe this to be the truth, Nike does not operate sweatshops, we are the victims of bad press. There are no sweatshops. Sweatshops violate our Code and that's that. Tell them how we took students from Brigham Young University on factory monitoring tours with Price Waterhouse Coopers and they did not find any evidence of sweatshops. I debunk every study on the Nike web site. 

Our 3 legged Stool. Nike's comprehensive monitoring system is a 3-legged stool. First leg is FLA, second is Global Alliance, and third is Price Waterhouse Coopers. Activists want to knock any leg off that stool so we can not sit on it. 

Global Alliance questions are easy to diffuse. It is too new to comment upon. Still there are some issues to avoid. The key question we get on GA, FLA and PWC is on interviewing workers and conducting focus groups on company ground. Activists want anonymous interviews by NGOs away from factory or Nike management. Just say that lacks scientific validity. That stops them every time. Then follow up with something like, there is more than one way to listen to workers. They will try to make you believe our subs are silencing the voice of workers. Hell, that is why we conduct the focus groups. You know that Mattel pulled out of Global Alliance. Activists claim GA has no monitoring standards and just sets up teams of two managers, one supervisor and five to seven workers. We get a lot of questions on how workers are selected. It is a trick question to get us to admit we are not committed for freedom of association.  They want copies of the questions from the focus groups and transcripts of workers' responses. Just say we need more time on this one. They will ask you why we are paying for education and micro-loan programs instead of just raising wages from the legal minimum to living wage. Altogether now, say it loudly "no one knows how to measure minimum wages!" They will ask why we are taking an economic aid approach? This is another trick question.  They want to draw you into a debate about co-opting the local community with education dollars and in order to buy their silence and cooperation about what is happening in the factories. Rubbish..

FLA questions focus on the issue of Independence. How independent is a monitor who however approved and accredited by FLA is paid by Nike?  Will they be rigorous when they want that renewal? Will they disclose anything? Activists claim that workers are being taught how to respond to Nike's three monitoring legs. Now you and I know workers are not being trained and they are not reading from script. No, we do not have workers fired for speaking out against working conditions in our factories. They are asking for copies of the complete report and transcripts of focus groups. Just say it is proprietary.  

Price Waterhouse Coopers questions are also about independence when Nike pays them, but raise one more issue.  Can an accounting firm monitor health and safety issues or gain the trust of workers in their audits? Again they want copies of the full report. Tell them they will have to make do with the summaries and the Swoosh check off system. 

Victimology. I tell you we are victims of shoddy methodology and media hacks who have never visited a factory in their miserable lives. Together with the trade unionists, they have provoked the protests against WTO in Seattle, boycotts to NikeTown and Footlocker outlets, and they are organizing misguided students on hundreds of U.S. campuses.  It is just a lot of old press and shoddy NGO studies circulating on the World Wide Web and it is our job to lay out the facts of the situation. We deal in reality not fiction.  We are not perfect but we do not take a bad rap. And we do not change a winning strategy because some trade unionists and political activists think globalization is a dirty word.  Now divide into small groups and practice your responses to the growing conspiracy, disinformation, and propaganda campaign against Nike. Just Do It Just In Time to keep our corporate strategy solid and secure.

The New "I CAN" Corporate Strategy. As you know Nike is de-emphasizing "Just Do It" in favor of the new "I Can" campaign. Just Do It is no longer part of the logo and we are making the Swooshes smaller on Tiger Woods and other endorsees. The "I CAN" strategy is also about promoting those Academic work of professors who support Nike. We are taking university professors on factory tours and letting them observe our best factories.  They are finding the same results as Andrew Young. When you are in front of any academic conference or university crowd talk up the new Kahle et al Sports Marketing Professor's paper, "Good Morning Vietnam: An Ethical Analysis of Nike Activities in Southeast Asia."  This article exonerates Nike of all ethical challenges.  Be careful of that maverick David Boje, he is raising all kinds of reliability and validity challenges, claiming the study is Young knock off. What a nut! We already blocked two of Boje's publications, and we will do it again. See the section in your notebook tabbed, postmodern professor. Just stick to the positive findings in your talks. If we publish more positive professor's articles than the critical professors publish, we win! That is all. Now all together, shout "I CAN."  -  Dusty Kidd (a fictitious authoring). 

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GAME RULES - Roll Dice twice. First to select one of 12 questions to answer and second to select one of 12 Outer Square response templates. The purpose of the game is to learn official Nike responses when Nike is accused of running 500 sweatshops employing 500,000 people in 31 countries, which of course no one has yet to prove. Get into groups of four, pick a Swoosh color, take turns rolling the dice to select questions and to practice one of the 12 approved template answers (outer square)  Each player will roll the dice twice. On the first roll, read the question in the center square (MIDDLE OF GAME BOARD). On the second roll (you can roll one or both), advance your PLASTIC SWOOSH  around the board (BEGIN AT SQUARE ONE). The purpose of the game is to learn to use each template square on the Gameboard so that your responses seem sincere, genuine and compassionate. Are there any questions? Remember, you can always refer to the Nike factory tours that we conducted in Vietnam, Thailand, China, Indonesia, and El Salvador. You saw nothing, heard nothing, and know nothing about sweatshops based upon the workers you saw there. You women of Nike, remember to talk about the time you spent in the factory dorms, doing the sleepovers with the factory girls. Return to Nike Just In Time Gameboard

QUESTION CARDS. When you roll the dice the first time, your score will get you to one of these 12 questions.

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The following is a more detailed primer on each of the template responses you are allowed to give when asked about sweatshops in Nike subcontract factories. 

1. DENIAL: You can respond to all criticism with a straight-faced denial. "Nike has no sweatshops now." "We don't run the factories, we just design the stuff."  If you are on the spot, say "that's just old news. We need to look to the future and what is happening today"   In the JUST IN TIME game, publicly Nike has responded to any criticism of labor conditions with a policy of denial. When denial is not an option, Nike employees are instructed to deflect difficult questions regarding labor conditions to the Labor Practices Department where Dusty Kidd, Videl Manager, and Amanda Tucker will answer such inquiries.  There is also a new VP for Corporate Responsibility who is authorized to respond. If you get asked about Nike having some assistant coach at St. Johns named James Keady fired, deny it. Say, "I heard he resigned."  Return to Nike Just In Time Gameboard

2. HIDE n' SEEK: Nike has sweatshops if you can find them. Take our factory tour and you won't find even one.  Remember Nike has 108 subs in the US and 500 out of US. Ask them which factory they are talking about. Perhaps Nike does not have a contract with that factory.  It could a subcontract to a subcontract. There are model factories in each of the 32 countries, so remember to comment on the best practices factories.   Return to Nike Just In Time Gameboard

3. EXCEPTION: Maybe a few, but not so many sweatshops at Nike as there was at one time. Tell them "Every factory has its problems."  Phil Knight told shareholders that he has as many employees (counting the subs) as Portland. Now ask the audience if the mayor of a city is responsible for every act of verbal abuse, assault or accident?  If the audience is in business, ask them, what factory or workplace does nto have its problems.  Return to Nike Just In Time Gameboard

4. EXISTENTIAL: No one can define what is a sweatshop? No one can define living wage either. Can you define it?  Philosophers and economists debate these things and there is no agreement on definitions.  How can we be expected to impose standards for wages when experts disagree?  Return to Nike Just In Time Gameboard

5. CODE OF CONDUCT: Nike's Code does not permit sweatshops. When we find one, subs correct it, or we do not renew their contract. Just say that such things are prohibited by the Code of Conduct. Ask them who said it and tell them about the three ways Nike monitors its Code (See 6, 7, & 8 below). Return to Nike Just In Time Gameboard

6. FLA MONITORING: Our FLA monitoring is better than your WRC one? Those WRCs have a "gotcha' attitude. FLA is Fair Labor Association and WRC is the Workers Right Consortium.  WRC is a "gotcha" program, just looking for any report, no matter how shoddy and unscientific that shows any little thing is wrong. It is all a front for the labor unions who are still moaning and whining about jobs that have left the United States. Hey, those jobs will never return. Nike uses a three-legged stool approach to monitoring. The first leg is FLA, second is Global Alliance and third is Price Waterhouse Coopers (see 7 & 8 below). Review the various protocols used by each. Stress the professionalism of the experts doing the work.  Return to Nike Just In Time Gameboard

7. GLOBAL ALLIANCE FOR WORKERS & COMMUNITIES: Part of Nike's comprehensive monitoring program includes focus groups & surveys with workers, plus we include  local NGOs. If you are asked about unions, say "I respect that point of view, but unions is not the only way to organize."  Some countries such as China, Thailand, and Indonesia are not too hospitable to unions, so say "Nike has to provide a parallel process as a necessary substitute for unions."  Besides, tell them "I know factories with unions that one could classify as sweatshops" (be careful not to get trapped into defining what is or is not a sweatshop or you will need template #4). Return to Nike Just In Time Gameboard

8. PRICE WATERHOUSE COOPERS: It takes a good accounting firm to monitor sweatshops. In 1999, PWC became the designated auditor of Nike's subcontracting plants.  You will be asked about the 1997 release of the Ernst & Young report.  Reply that, "Dara O'Rourke, the guy who released the report to the NY Times is a respected partner of Nike and has given the factory in question a clean bill of health."  Use the exception response #3 if the questioner persists. Sometimes you get an accounting student or professor who wants to know what happened to Ernst & Young (implying that we fired them). Just say "No. we don't know what happened to Ernst and Young." But tell them you will check it out. You may get asked about how appropriate it is from an accounting firm to monitor labor rights, as opposed to some local NGO. Tell them PWC are processionals.  Do not get into specifics of accounting methodsReturn to Nike Just In Time Gameboard

9. SHOOT THE MESSENGER: When all else fails, instead of denying the evidence, "shoot the messenger." It worked for the Clintons. "Those guys have their ax to grind." "They just want to bring back trade unions (or get elected)."  "They are a fringe element of malcontents." To do this critique do a little investigation of the background of the person or organization who has done or sponsored the study.  If they have made their career by criticizing and bad mouthing Nike, then you have them.  There is a more subtle approach. Always begin by sawing "I respect their point of view. They are entitled to their opinion."  That makes you sound unbiased. Then SHOOT THE OTHER MESSENGER.  Say, you would be mad as hell too, if the information provided to the questioner was REAL. If you are dealing with a university crowd use the following "But, of course it is just misinformation, exaggeration, and statements taken out of context.  It is disinformation that is causing the university students to protest and hold sit-ins in administrators' offices."  You can adapt the response when speaking to non-university audiences.   Return to Nike Just In Time Gameboard

10. SWEATSHOPS ARE GOOD: They are a necessary step in economic development.  According to the Nike Index, when we leave, the economy is developed.  There are reputable economists (particularly at Harvard) and business strategy professors (mostly at Stanford) who argue that sweatshops are just a normal part of the economic growth of a developing country's economy.  While Nike's Code prohibits all forms of child labor (kids under 15 are defined as children), anthropologists and sociologists tell us that child labor is necessary to those economies.  Close your saying that prohibiting sweatshops is a way for the developed nations to keep the Third World in a permanent state of underdevelopment.  If you are asked questions about the 1997-1998 collapse of the Asian economy and what happened to nations that Nike shifted most or all of its production from, just say "I am not an economist."  It is a trick question. Once in a while you get a died in the wool Marxist (or neo Marxist Critical Theorist) who will comment on Karl Marx (1867) Das Kapital, chapter 10, "The Working Day."  You can spot a Marxist when they say, "well aren't Nike sweatshops just a throwback to the turn of the century material conditions we left behind with industrial progress." Its the words "material condition" that give them away.  You could ask them about the collapse of Soviet Marxism, but that will get you into a deep philosophical debate over the history of Marxism that will put your audience to sleep. Return to Nike Just In Time Gameboard

11. IT JUST TAKES TIME: Sweatshops will end once we build our protocols. Often this will bring a flurry of questions about how long it it taking. Just say "You can not expect us to end sweatshops in 18 months." Sometimes you will be asked why you work with El Salvador when there is so much alleged evidence that they meet all the definitional criteria of a sweatshop.  Remind them of #4 (no one agrees on definitions), then say "We work with them till they improve. What would you have us do leave a factory management that is trying to improve, and with Nike's help will improve in time. Surely you do not want all those workers to be unemployed."  Stress that a job at Nike is always an economic opportunity and that factory management get better over time with the three legged stool approach to monitoring (See 6, 7 & 8).  Return to Nike Just In Time Gameboard

12. POOR METHODOLOGY: Listen up, whenever anyone trots out some study, attack the methodology. "Their studies are laughable science." "What scientist would ever take their claims seriously?"  Surely we can not accept it as a scientific study when responses were not checked against payroll records.  Some of these NGOs sit outside the factory gates trying to interview workers. "This is not science."  Then go to #8 where a rigorous methodology and tested-protocols are used to systematically collect data year after year. If you are asked to see examples, refer them to the Nike web site. If the critic turns the tables on you and starts to talk abut former Ambassador Andrew Young's methodology or worse the Amos Tuck Business College Nike-sponsored wage studies of Indonesia and Vietnam, just say "that is old news" (see Maria Eitel's Press Release on this issue). Nike keeps a catalogue of critiques to each of the NGO and media reports of so called "surveys" and "interviews" of wage and labor conditions. In each case, tell them "Dusty Kidd has written a correcting the record analysis of the study and found its methods unsound and therefore its claims invalid." 

For more Nike information, see Academics Studying Nike

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