This document discusses the case study of a children toy making company, named Mattel. This company produces renowned products like Fisher-price, Disney, Hot Wheels and Barbie dolls. The annual revenue of Mattel is about 6.27 Billion dollar every year. It stands as one of the biggest companies with its products being marketed in about 150 countries.


The company is known to move with the current cultural and environmental trends. It emphasizes on consumer based and consumer specific products. It keeps a good eye on who are the exact consumers. This is evident from its consumer targeted limited edition toys. Thus includes the Tokidoki tattoo Barbie, dolls with head scarves, etc. But in spite of the basic good thinking, there were problems in some designs, due to which parents complaint the specific versions to be halted.


In its life of success and advancements, company has faced serious problems first in terms of the administrative changes and then some legal issues in terms of the materials being used during its manufacturing cycle. This has lead to many controversies against it.


Common issues, their reasons and way to avoid these problems have been highlighted and discussed. Most pronounced and significant problems faced by Mattel are discussed and solutions are proposed by which they could have been avoided.


The importance of organization behaviors and the significance of ethical and legal values have been explored. The need for satisfied and contended workers stands as top most. Initiatives have to be taken to keep them involved and to give them a feeling of being owned by the company.

In addition to the satisfaction of employees, it stands equally important that the business partners are also satisfied.

1. Introduction


Mattel is a US based multinational company that’s has its products being sold to about 150 countries. The company enjoyed both very positive successful period. But this also brought some serious issues to the organization. The issues were sometimes ethical violating the basic laws of safety, and sometimes they were legal, where contractors were unable to follow the basic principles of the company. This document addresses what have been the good and bad times of Mattel and what could be the possible solutions to the reasons of bad times.


Its two major controversies have been discussed. One due to lead paint used in the toys and other due to ownership issues of a doll. Mattel maintained very strong internal and external policies as it strongly believes in practicing ethical and legal values in the working organizations.

2. Answers

Answer 1:


Producers of products and services have to characterize the level or population to which they intend to deliver their service or product. This clarifies the social responsibilities associated with it and what are the standard it needs to fulfill. In addition to all the advancements and achievements companies are contributing towards society, its impact on the kids is of core importance. The most important question stands if the products, services and activities are safe for them, O’Brien, G., (2011).


Children are the most innocent and delicate humans and they have to be treated with care and responsibility. Companies like Mattel have to pay attention to their social responsibilities as they produce products that are dealt directly by children. These products demand harmless inclination towards the children and kids. From the raw material selection like avoiding powerful magnets and lead paints by Mattel, to the production process till the final delivery, all the steps should be damage proof for kids, Story, L., (2007). No material and process should be harmful or hazardous to the consumers i.e. children.


Companies need to have responsible behavior in not just the use of material in their products, but also the design and structure of their products. Mattel produced dolls with tattoos and snacktime dolls, which were failed by parents to avoid encouragement in children for tattoos or may hurt their children, respectively. Also incorporating features in products and toys that deliver positive messages to children, like special dolls for cancer hospital kids, influence their behavior and thoughts.


Products for children have to be designed and delivered by keeping in view the requirements and restrictions that parents might have for them. This remains confined not only to the toys industry, but to every domain that is related to kids like books, play areas, medicines etc. Companies like Perrigo recognizes the need for active and vigilant eye on dosages of medicines for children. They understand their responsibility to deliver proper knowledge to pediatricians to avoid any damages, Papa, J. C., (2015).


There have been activities like banning the companies for certain activities and products that may adversely affect the children. For example, McDonalds in San Francisco was banned to give toys with fast food that exceed basic levels of salt, etc, O’Brien, G., (2011).


Jessica Ekstrom, owner of Headbands of Hope, creates US made headbands to encourage children with life threatening illnesses and attract them to life, Ekstrom, J., (2015).


Answer 2:

Mattel’s products are for children which imposes many ethical and legal responsibilities on its shoulders. Mattel has to stay very vigilant and concerned about the rights of children and their social concerns. Procedures and technological involvement may cause problems like leakage of consumer’s privacy, etc.


Mattel has showed deep concerns while it produces toys for children. IThe company understands deeply the importance of children safety and the legal issues associated with it. Thus, Mattel has ensured that parents are kept in confidence about the production procedure. Mattel takes the opportunity to keep its consumers well aware of what they are making and what are their aims and goals behind this production. The company wants people both children and parents/adults to understand the basics and the purpose of a particular creation. Frequently asked questions section has been developed to ease this process of awareness, Graham, J., (2013).


To be confident about what they are delivering and to keep the parents and consumers aware, Mattel has kept strong relations with its manufacturers. For this, it carries out audit of all its manufacturers and primary contractors every three years. In order to make this process more centralized and controlled, it made a code of conduct called Global Manufacturing Principles. One of the basic rules is that all the manufacturers and contractors follow the same ethical and legal rules as decided my Mattel.


Mattel also commits partnership with business partners who confronts to the ethical and legal laws set by Mattel. This includes high levels of product safety and quality. As Mattel is a US based multinational company, thus it not only has to maintain a transparent error free production and manufacturing chain but also to take care of cultural and ethical differences between difference countries where it operates, Sethi, S. P. et. al., (2011).


Even after all this seriousness and stress on following particular ethical and legal rules, Mattel has to face controversies regarding the lead paint on its toys by some China’s contractor. This was caused by lack of investigation and audit by Mattel till the sub contractor level. This stood as gaps and provided room for violations.


This fault has to be removed and one way was adopted by Mattel to investigate the subcontractors too for their suppliers. I would suggest that for every chain in a country, a centralized database should be made before demanding for material, and this should be checked for any possible violations and faults.

Answer 3:

Mattel developed a code of conduct titled as Global Manufacturing Principles to monitor the ethical and legal operations and concerns of Mattel. This is responsible not only for the manufacturing process but also for the cultural and social differences between countries.

In September 2007, Mattel picked up its toys from the market due to increasing complaints about the toys having lead paint on them. This was caused by a subcontractor hired by a vendor working for Mattel. The vendor, Hong li Da, purchased paint from a non-authorized third-party supplier. This stood against the legal policy of Mattel. This also highlights the flaw in the Global Manufacturing Principles defined by the company. The audit for the manufacturers and contractors was carried out every three years to confirm compliance to Mattel’s ethical and legal rules, but there was no system to check the sub contractors, Wong, M. and Frost, S., (2000).

It stands as the company’s fault in not being able to devise procedures for a complete check. Although Mattel blamed the China industry and government for not being able to maintain a check over the materials being exported, the company equally stands responsible for this issue. It should include procedures to check to the last tier in the supply chain. Each and every material and its source should be authenticated and verified, Reuvid, J., (2011).

On the other hand, Mattel can check its own systems and processes but every government also holds the responsibility to see the quality of products being exported. The export policy must include the check and inquiry of what is the quality of the product and what level of safety does it contains based on the purpose it is being exported.

Mattel could also get the export material checked before actually getting it used in its manufacturing plants. Every product should have a test run cycle where a number of pieces should be prepared and tested for usability and material safety testing. This may have avoided the above situation, even if the product was made, Wong, M. and Frost, S., (2000).

Mattel and China are necessary for each other as china produces 65% of Mattel’s toys and Mattel could not afford any fights with China, Popat, P., (2010). Thus, Mattel had to end up this blame game to avoid any further damages for the company. Mattel apologized the Chinese government for its blame and face-saved the company by pointing that major product recalls were due to the power loose magnets used in toys and not actually the lead paint, Thottam, J., (2007).

Answer 4:

Organizational culture is defined as the behavior of humans in an organization and the perception of people about them. Organizational culture and trends are core competencies of any business. The relations between the employee and the employers and the company with its business partners makes the company stand as unique and strong in the market. Management is responsible to set the environment and the way things happen, Hellriegel, D. and Slocum, J., (2008).

The behavior and practices carried out in the company derives directly the motivation and competence of its workforce. People who work in the company needs satisfaction on terms of their wages and other facilities. They want bonuses, appreciation and extra facilities from the organizations, Militaru, C. and Zanfir, A., (2012), Graham, J., (2013).

Companies like Mattel enforce the relationship between the company and its employees to be very strong and comfortable. For this, companies launch special incentives like bonuses, annual increments and vocational sponsorships. This relaxes the employee and he feels more committed to his responsibilities.

In addition, organizations enforce special interests in development and education of its employees. It initiates different educational trainings and even sponsor them for refining the skill set of its workforce. This not only benefits the employee as individual, but also benefits the organization in terms of the satisfied output and commitment from the employee, Hellriegel, D. and Slocum, J., (2008).

Every person should be heard and should be given a homely feeling. But this attitude should be kept in parallel to strict adherence to basic ethical rules to follow the company practices and avoid any violations.

The employees should follow the laws set by the company in terms of data security and intellectual property.

Answer 5:

Mattel has always laid down very strong influence in practicing ethical values in parallel to its basic manufacturing abilities. The domain in which Mattel operates poses many issues for it in ethical terms. This exists because Mattel operates for children, who are highly sensitive to any chances and odds, Mattel Inc., (2015), Hill, R. P. and Langan, R., (2014).

Use of technology


Mattel pays full attention to adopt and use the modern technological advancements. But this also makes issues like privacy and online technology transparent to the company. Having children as its core consumers, Mattel understands the need to satisfy the parents and make them aware of its procedures and processes. Thus, it openly narrates its corporate marketing strategy to parents. It also developed very precise yet informative frequently asked questions section on its website to ensure the parents that the privacy of their children is their key goal.

Business partners

When dealing with other industries, it strictly adheres to the already set rules of ethics. Mattel ensures that all its partners agree to its terms and conditions for operations to work with it. Its Global Manufacturing Principles code of conduct is an example of its struggle to main basic human rights and ethical standards. It ensures that standard practices are followed no matter in which country it operates. Mattel emphasizes that all its partners follow high standards of quality and safety and must be in compliance with the rules and regulations of the country they are residing in. this is the minimum possible a business partner must fulfill to continue or establish terms with Mattel.




Mattel’s consideration for the workforce and its employees has no compromise. It ensures that they are properly paid and their basic rights are completed in time. They be given proper bonuses and incentives. Their skill set is enhanced by regular trainings and they are given equal opportunities to excel, Hellriegel, D. and Slocum, J., (2008).


Mattel maintains and demands transparency in its procedures and processes for its consumers and from its partners. Its Global manufacturing principles require that on-site investigations and record analysis at anytime must be allowed by all manufacturing facilities. Its independent monitoring system titled as Mattel Monitoring Council (MIMCO) has enables it to investigate and rectify its procedures according to its own set of rules and regulations. This has enabled it to practice based on global standards.


The basic goal of the company is to maintain its code to work under ethical values with all the employees, customers and business partners.


These practices adopted by Mattel to maintain a level in corporate social responsibility are genuine and it has proved this by following these standard rules for years. But during controversies, it has tried to divert the attention and conflicts from its name to other countries like China in the lead paint controversy.

3. Conclusions


The report summarizes the different aspects about how Mattel has developed in its organizational ethical and legal values. It also highlights the pitfalls in the organizational structure at Mattel. Arguments have been placed in favor and against different strategies and actions of Mattel.


Discussions are done to highlight the problems faced by Mattel due to lead paints and high power loose magnets in its toys, which gave birth to many controversies against it. Certain corrective measures have been proposed that could be improved by Mattel. It is suggested that in presence of these, the issues might not have to be faced by the company. Also, Mattel is known as blaming others to shed off the gossips about it, but this stands as bad market strategies to avoid any objections on their products. It has to back up from such statements and actions, to carry on its manufacturing industry smoothly.

4. References


  • Ekstrom, J., (2015), Headband of Hope,, [Accessed: 25 may 2015].
  • GMP-PrinciplesOverview, (2015), Mattel Global manufacturing principles,, [Accessed: 25 May 2015].
  • Graham, J., (2013), The role of corporate culture in business ethics,, [Accessed: 25 may 2015].
  • Hellriegel, D. and Slocum, J., (2008), Organizational behavior, Ed. 12, Cengage learning.
  • Hill, R. P. and Langan, R., (2014), Handbook of research on marketing and corporate social responsibility, Edward Elgar publishing.
  • Thottam, J., (2007), Why Mattel apologized to China,,8599,1664428,00.html, [Accessed: 25 may 2015].
  • Mattel Inc., (2015), Corporate social responsibility and quality,, [Accessed: 25 May 2015].
  • Militaru, C. and Zanfir, A., (2012), The influence of organizational culture over the ethical principles in international businesses, International journal of Academic Research in Accounting, Finance and Management Sciences, Vol. 2, pp. 26-33.
  • O’Brien, G., (2011), Marketing to children: Accepting responsibility,, [Accessed: 25 may 2015].
  • Popat, P., (2010), International product law manual, Kluwer law International.
  • Papa, J. C., (2015), Corporate social responsibility,, [Accessed: 25 may 2015].
  • Reuvid, J., (2011), Business Insights: China: Practical Advice on Operational Strategy and Risk Management, Ed. 2, Kogan Page Publishers.
  • Sethi, S. P. et. al., (2011), Mattel, Inc.: Global Manufacturing Principles (GMP) – A Life-Cycle Analysis of a Company-Based Code of Conduct in the Toy Industry, Journal of business ethics.
  • Story, L., (2007), Lead Paint Prompts Mattel to Recall 967000 toys,, [Accessed: 25 may 2015].
  • Wong, M. and Frost, S., (2000), Monitoring Mattel: codes of conduct, workers and toys in southern China,, [Accessed: 25 may 2015].

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