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Introduction

Resort World Sentosa (RWS), wholly owned by
Genting Singapore is founded with an aim to cater excitement, adventure and
relaxation for local community and tourists. Having world-class attractions such
as Universal Studios, a casino, four hotels and six famous restaurants, RWS
planned to expand business by opening a maritime experiential museum and the
Marine Life Park (MLP). Their goal in MLP is to develop a sense of marine
conservation, marine education, research and stewardship.

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Major
issues

The controversy arose when RWS announced they
would be housing 25 indo-pacific bottlenose dolphins at MLP. There were many
activists who opposed the idea.

Increased
Rate of Dolphin Extinction

Although bottlenose dolphins are not
endangered yet, they might become endangered if the trading of dolphins were
not strictly controlled. Despite Animal Concerns Research and Education Society
(ACRES) explicitly stating that there were higher chances of dolphin
extinction, RWS did not show much concern and even stated on RWS’s website that
bottlenose are not endangered species. It shows how ignorant RWS was and that
they did not show interest on environmental ethics.

 

Violating
Import Control Regulation

According to Convention on the International
Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), number of dolphins
that could be exported should not exceed more than 10 to save bottlenose
dolphins from being an endangered species. However, RWS violated the import
control regulation and brought in a batch of 20 dolphins. RWS abiding the
regulation indicates that RWS did not show respect to CITES who made the
regulation. Above action of RWS exhibits that RWS did not take necessary
environmental and social responsibility.

Death
of Two Dolphins

ACRES revealed that RWS dolphin housing
facilities failed to accommodate international standards regarding hygiene,
pool dimensions and noise. However, RWS denied accusations by responding their facilities
exceeded international standards. As a result, two dolphins died from bacterial
infections through polluted soil and water. However, RWS quickly defended that
dolphins were perfectly fine before the incident. RWS stated wild dolphins also
caught from infection implying that the death was not their fault. However,
oceans where dolphins live could be polluted by various factors such as oil
spill from ships and possible poisonous chemicals. However, holding area at
Langkawi was managed by RWS and RWS had full responsibility to provide good
dolphin care. Failing to do so makes RWS bad in reputation and environmentally
irresponsible.

 

Refuse
to Release Dolphins

              Experienced
and knowledgeable activists insisted RWS to release captive dolphins and stated
that captivity caused stress in dolphins, possibly leading to death. However, RWS
strongly defended that releasing them back would be risky and captive dolphins had
double life span than those in the wild. Without evidence and proof to
substantiate their claims, RWS seemed to give excuses to keep dolphins and make
profits.

 

Stakeholders
Analysis

When a controversy arises, various stakeholders
are affected by the action and decision of the corporation. It is important for
RWS to identify relevant stakeholders, their concern, interest and power. Success
or failure of the corporation heavily depends on how well the organization
analyse its stakeholders.

 

 

 

Animal
Rights Activists

Animal Rights Activists are groups of people who
think all animals deserve certain extent of consideration no matter how cute or
useful they are to people. Based on power, they might be relatively small to
challenge large corporation like RWS. However, when they gather together with concrete
evidence and support, they could even knock down RWS through the power of
media.  

ACRES’ interest is to ensure that RWS releases
dolphins back to their original habitats. ACRES demonstrated with enough
evidence how RWS violated regulations and did not take welfare concern of
captive dolphins seriously. Even Mexican Senator Jorge Ordorica showed concern
of the well beings of RWS dolphins. Based on his past experience on how 12 out of
28 imported dolphins were dead, Ordorica suggested Singapore to reconsider its
actions. Besides death of dolphins, Ordorica expressed Mexico’s reputation was
damaged as part of consequences. Support from well-known dolphin activist,
Richard O’ Barry and his interview with CNN made the incident being
internationally publicized.  Consequently,
800,000 signatures were received for the petition.

It significantly showed how activists can form
strong coalitions. Activists have informational power where they could access
useful data and details to come up with personal perspectives to garner
attention of the public or key decision makers.

 

Customers

Customers of RWS are local community and
tourists. Even though RWS is a destination for relaxation and adventure, some
customers showed concern about RWS moral ethics towards dolphin. Customers have
economic power and they can choose to stop going to RWS and vented their opinions
out about dolphins online. However, lack of strong competitor in Singapore is
the major reason RWS can run their business as usual.

 

 

Employees

Since RWS is still expanding, employment
opportunities increase. With over 12,000 employees, employees’ interest is to maintain
stable employment, getting satisfactory salary, benefits and working in
comfortable environment. However, some employee care about reputation of the
corporation they work at. Since RWS is caught up with shark and dolphin controversy,
RWS does not carry as good image as before. It is possible that employee would
decline an offer from a company with bad reputation.  However, employees have the capability to form
the strike and refuse to work if activists could influence employees for animal
rights, which made them possess economic power.

 

Governments

Genting is a large corporation and it brings
many economic activities in 8 countries such as America, China, United Kingdom,
etc. Since it brings economic development and creates job opportunities to
people, governments welcome the multinational companies into their country. As
RWS is one of the tourists’ attractions, it helps Singapore economy expand and
grow through taxes. On the other hand, governments possess political power to
change regulations and laws.

 

Social
Media

The campaign, website and a Facebook page set
up by ACRES is a proof how much ACRES cared about dolphins. It vividly shows
how important social media can be. On Facebook page and MLP’s blog, activists
gathered and even considered to boycott RWS for irresponsible actions towards
dolphins. Hence, media is a very dynamic and influential stakeholder. If RWS do
not listen to them, it has power to destroy big corporation.

 

 

 

 

Local
Community

Local community has its stakeholder networks.
They can choose to engage with government offices, special interest groups or the
media and expect corporate social responsibility (CSR) activities from RWS.

 

Investors
and Shareholders

Having large corporate structure, the board of
directors are dominant shareholders. Their major concern is how much revenue
and profit RWS earn. They have the power to vote on the decisions of RWS.

 

Categories of stakeholders are as below:

Market
Stakeholders

–         
Customers

–         
Employees

–         
Investors and
Shareholders

Non
– Market Stakeholders

–         
Animal Rights
Activists

–         
Government

–         
Local Community

 

 

Internal
Stakeholders

–         
CEO

–         
Managers

–         
Employees

External
Stakeholders

–         
Animal Rights
Activists

–         
 Customers

–         
Local Community

–         
Government

–         
Investors and
Shareholders

 

High
Saliency

ACRES perceive that RWS’s practices are not
aligned with its initial aim which is to enhance marine conservation, education
and research on dolphins. Activists showed great concern regarding death of two
dolphins and possible death of the rest of dolphins. Hence, ACRES is at the
highest position of saliency as they first pointed out this issue. Moreover,
ACRES have a wide network of animal activists who are anticipating to go
against RWS.

 

Performance
Expectation Gap

RWS was an environmentally sustainable project
and even achieved the Building and Construction Authority’s (BCA) second
highest Green Mark rating of Gold Plus before. Because of RWS’s CSR
initiatives, stakeholders’ expectations are relatively higher. Unfortunately,
in this case, RWS failed to reach high expectations from stakeholders. While
activists expected RWS to be environmentally and socially responsible and
anticipated to get response regards to their concerns on Facebook page, RWS did
not make any statement leaving activists and public disappointed. Violating
import regulations of dolphins, failing to reach housing standards, neglecting
stakeholder’s concerns are major issues which made performance expectation gap
wider for RWS.

 

 

 

 

Business
Stakeholder Relationship

When a controversy arises, it is important to
engage with stakeholders well and wisely. Based on RWS’s response, it is obvious
RWS displayed a reactive stakeholder relationship towards stakeholders. RWS was
highly defensive and denied all accusations made by ACRES.

It is obvious that RWS was not well prepared
for crisis as the way RWS respond to ACRES seemed unplanned and poorly
expressed. RWS was more focused on defending rather than communicating.
Regarding captivity and living conditions, RWS turned a deaf ear to ACRES’
claims. RWS showed little empathy towards dolphins and diverted attention to marine
conservation, education, research and breeding programs.

Instead of avoiding crisis by diverting
attention to other benefit programs, RWS should respond truthfully. They should
closely re-examine what had gone wrong and how they could fix it. RWS should
respect opposition’s concern and took their opinions into consideration.

When two dolphins suddenly died, there was no
immediate reaction from RWS to ACRES. When they finally responded, they blamed
on unforeseeable circumstances. Instead of giving irresponsible answers, RWS
should analyse the whole situation and reflect upon it.

 Regards
to importing dolphins, ACRES clearly pointed out that RWS violated the
regulations but RWS strongly denied it. Even United Parcel Services declared it
would no longer involve in shipping dolphins because of violation of
environmental regulations. Even the seller of dolphins commented that RWS was
using dolphins to make profits instead of developing marine conservation. With strong
oppositions from different stakeholders, RWS ignored and continued to keep dolphins
in MLP.

When Barry visited RWS to discuss about dolphins,
he did not have a chance to meet with CEO. Refusing to meet an internationally
prominent activist was a huge mistake of RWS. It shows that RWS did not take
him seriously and it made RWS’ reputation worse.

On Facebook page and blog, activists showed
concern demanding dolphins back into the wild. Instead of communicating
interactively, RWS blocked some accounts. Besides, there was no reply
corresponding to questions and confrontation made from activists on the page
and MLP blog. Instead of engaging with activists, RWS even blamed ACRES
followers of cyber harassment and defamation.

Denying that dolphins are not endangered
species, refusing to release dolphins, arguing captive dolphins live longer
than dolphins in the wild, and defending RWS’s housing facilities exceeded standards
are proofs that ACRES was extremely reactive towards stakeholders.

 

Issue
Management Process

Identify Issue – Once there are emerging, RWS should
identify them by closely evaluating the media, expert’s views and activist
opinions. Social media listening is one of the growing trends among business
organization. Using advanced technology, RWS should track the key issues and
current conversation of primary stakeholders.

Analyse Issue – Before responding to claims from ACRES, RWS
must closely investigate the whole situation, carefully analyse how issues
stems from and how they would affect business operation. RWS should be careful
of immediate and defensive response without accurate details.

Generate
Options – Once RWS has
figured out how significant the issues are, RWS should generate possible alternatives
and choose the most suitable option. The entire nation and other countries are
paying full attention to how RWS would react to accusations. RWS should ensure
that their option should align with business ethics, corporate’s vision and
address major stakeholders’ concerns.

Take Action –  After
deciding the suitable option, RWS should carry out actions what RWS promised to
do. RWS should continue serving broad social interest and its ongoing CSR
initiatives. Actions carried out by RWS should reach stakeholders’ expectations
and most importantly show that RWS is a socially and environmentally ethical
organization.

Evaluate
Results – After carrying
out the issue management, RWS should revise the outcomes of the issue and make
necessary adjustments. In stead of reaching to a definite conclusion, issue management
is a prolonged process and will continue in a loop.

 

 

Effective
Stakeholder Engagement

RWS should strive to be in an interactive
relationship with stakeholders with higher saliency especially ACRES and other
animal activists. RWS should earnestly engage with stakeholders with mutual
respect, trust and transparency.

 

Admitting
Mistakes

RWS should not consider that accepting
mistakes display weakness or that it could destroy their reputation. It was
never too late to acknowledge mistakes. Acknowledging mistakes and apologizing
properly could exhibit how powerful and courageous RWS is and it can even
restore people’s faith in RWS.

 

Transparency

RWS should openly disclose about their social
and environmental performance to diverse stakeholders. RWS should respond
truthfully about their future actions. They must work hard to fill the
performance expectation gap. RWS should clearly state their detailed plans of
marine conservation, marine education, dolphin research and breeding programs
and living conditions of dolphins at MLP to satisfy stakeholders.

 

Initiating
CSR

Balancing between social and community
responsibilities with profit is expected and it is important to impress
community and keep a favourable reputation. As an establishment of ethical
organization, RWS should contribute back to the society. RWS should earnestly
involve at community events as an essential member of the communities in which
RWS operate. They should initiate environmental and endangered species preserving
projects to show that RWS act in socially responsible ways. As a result, RWS
would regain positive reaction from public and stakeholders which leads to
long-run business profits.

 

Careful
Management of Social Media

Since ACRES followers were disappointed due to
uncommunicativeness of RWS on social media, RWS should closely monitor what
people are talking about RWS on social media. If something goes wrong, it
started to spread quickly on social media. RWS could create discussion forums
and and actively engaged with users. By monitoring social media, RWS can quickly
analyse and respond to issues before it becomes huge controversy. 

 

Collaborative
Partnership with Stakeholders

RWS should adopt proactive and interactive
relationship with stakeholders. If there is any issue in future, RWS should let
external stakeholders involved by conducting stakeholder dialogue to exchange
ideas and opinions. Both parties can come up with creative and sustainable
solutions to tackle their concerns.

 

Conclusion

Based on the current actions of RWS, it
clearly shows that RWS is not socially responsible and not ethical. They do not
release the dolphins and refuse to provide further plans and details about
dolphins. Even in social media, they are unresponsive. They turned deaf ears to
local, international activists and Mexican Senator. In the present time, they
continue their business, keep earning huge amount of revenue and profits as if
rising concerns and issues are not related to them. Hence, RWS should endorse
interactive business-stakeholder relationship if they want to survive and be
successful in the long run. RWS should communicate effectively with
stakeholders and come to an agreement which addresses RWS, government and
society concerns. RWS should present not only to Singapore but also to other
countries that RWS care about environmental sustainability and is ethical in
their business operations.