Remembering to Forget: The Historic Irresponsibility of U.S. Big Tobacco
- 92 Downloads
Society increasingly demands corporations to be accountable for their past misbehaviours. Some corporations engage in forgetting work with the aim of avoiding responsibility for their wrongdoings. We argue that whenever social actors have their past actions called into question and engage in forgetting work, an ethics of remembering takes place. A collective project of social forgetting is contingent on the emergence of coordinated actions among players of an industry. Similarly, sustained efforts of forgetting work depend on the continuity of the project through various generations of employees, which presumes the existence of frameworks of remembering in place. We analysed this paradox through a historical case study of the U.S. tobacco industry. We conclude that forgetting work may be a double-edged sword. It might be beneficial in the short run, to the extent that corporations can successfully maintain the public ignorance about their deceitful pasts. In the long run, however, it creates additional layers of historical irresponsibility and may turn into a compounded liability in the event the memory of the collective strategy of social forgetting becomes public.
KeywordsHistoric CSR Organizational mnemonics Tobacco industry
Compliance with Ethical Standards
Conflict of interest
Diego M. Coraiola declares that he has no conflict of interest. Robbin Derry declares that she has no conflict of interest.
- Anderson, B. (1983). Imagined communities: Reflections on the origin and spread of nationalism. London: Verso.Google Scholar
- Arthur D. Little Inc. (1961). L&M—A perspective review. Philip Morris Records: Bates #2018019799.Google Scholar
- Bentley, M. R., Felton, D. G. I., & Reid, W. W. (1958). Report on Visit to USA and Canada: 17 April–12 May 1958. British American Tobacco Records: Bates #105408490.Google Scholar
- Blalock, J. V., & Burgard, J. (1963). Tobacco Institute, Tobacco Industry Research Committee, and Hill & Knowlton. UCSF Brown & Williamson Collection: Bates #1801.Google Scholar
- Brandt, A. M. (2007). The cigarette century: The rise, fall, and deadly persistence of the product that defined America. New York: Basic Books.Google Scholar
- Brown & Williamson. (1969). Smoking and health proposal. Brown & Williamson Records; Tobacco Industry Influence in Public Policy; Minnesota Documents: Bates #690010951.Google Scholar
- Ciresi, M. V., Walburn, R. B., & Sutton, T. D. (1999). Decades of deceit: Document discovery in the Minnesota Tobacco Litigation. William Mitchell Law Review, 25(2), 477–566.Google Scholar
- Cohen, P. (2003). History for hire In industry lawsuits. New York Times, p. B00007. Retrieved from https://www.nytimes.com/2003/06/14/arts/history-for-hire-in-industry-lawsuits.html.
- Cullman, J. P. (1983). Remarks of Jos. P. Cullman III at TMA Annual Mtg 830519. Lorillard Records: Bates #04211524.Google Scholar
- DiMaggio, P. J., & Powell, W. W. (1991). The iron cage revisited: Institutional isomorphism and collective rationality in organizational fields. In W. W. Powell & P. DiMaggio (Eds.), The new institutionalism in organizational analysis (pp. 267–292). Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
- Ehrhinghaus, J. C. B., Jr. (1971). Remarks before the Great Plains Candy and Tobacco Club. Ness Motley Law Firm Documents: Bates #TIMN0120578.Google Scholar
- Elsbach, K. D., & Sutton, R. I. (1992). Acquiring organizational legitimacy through illegitimate actions: A marriage of institutional and impression management theories. Academy of Management Journal, 35(4), 699–738.Google Scholar
- Facts Every Tobacco Man Should Remember. (1977, October 27). Tobacco Journal.Google Scholar
- Fellman, S., & Popp, A. (2014). Lost in the archive: The business historian in distress. In B. Czarniawska & O. Löfgren (Eds.), Coping with excess: How organizations, communities, and individuals manage overflows. Cheltenham: Edward Elgar.Google Scholar
- Geyelin, M. (1998). Lonely Lawyers for Liggett Feel Minnesota Chill. Wall Street, p. B1. Retrieved from https://www.wsj.com/articles/SB886718563356231000.
- Glantz, S. A. (1996). The cigarette papers (University of California Press EScholarship Editions). Berkeley: University of California Press.Google Scholar
- Glaser, B. G., & Strauss, A. L. (1967). The discovery of grounded theory: Strategies for qualitative research (Observations). Chicago: Aldine.Google Scholar
- Guardino, S. D., Friedman, L., & Daynard, R. A. (2004). Remedies for document destruction: Tales from the Tobacco Wars. Virginia Journal of Social Policy and the Law, 12, 1–60.Google Scholar
- Hahn, P. (1958). Re: policy issues of Tobacco Institute and corresponding public relations strategies. Ness Motley Law Firm Documents: Bates #3852.Google Scholar
- Hardy, D. R. (1970). [Letter from David R. Hardy to Debaun Bryant regarding tobacco litigation]. Tobacco Products Liability Project Collection: Bates #202315508.Google Scholar
- Hargadon, A. (2015). From what happened to what happens: Using microhistorical case studies to build grounded theory in organization studies. In K. D. Elsbach & R. M. Kramer (Eds.), Handbook of qualitative organizational research: Innovative pathways and methods (pp. 122–133). New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
- Hertsgaard, M., & Dowie, M. (2018, July 14). The inconvenient truth about cancer and mobile phones. The Guardian. Retrieved from https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2018/jul/14/mobile-phones-cancer-inconvenient-truths.
- Hill & Knowlton. (1953). Preliminary recommendations for cigarette manufacturers. Ness Motley Law Firm Documents: Bates #34341.Google Scholar
- Hill & Knowlton. (1954a). Report of activities through July 31, 1954. Philip Morris Records: Bates #2022998255.Google Scholar
- Hill & Knowlton. (1954b). Program of Tobacco Industry Research Committee. Ness Motley Law Firm Documents: Bates #3513.Google Scholar
- Hill & Knowlton. (1954c). Report of activities through July 31, 1952. Philip Morris Records: Bates #2022998255.Google Scholar
- Hilts, P. J. (1996). Smoke screen: The truth behind the tobacco industry cover-up. Reading: Addison-Wesley.Google Scholar
- Jasa, K. K. (1990). Summary of important documents in John W Hill Collection. Brown & Williamson Records; Congressman Bliley Philip Morris Collection: Bates #680704707.Google Scholar
- Kessler, D. (2001). A question of intent: A great American battle with a deadly industry. New York: Public Affairs.Google Scholar
- Killick, M., Mangold, T., Stmor, R., & Goldberg, J. (1995). “Pack of lies”: A Panorama special investigation into the tobacco industry: A research brief. Hearings before the subcommittee on health and the Environment of the Committee on Energy and Commerce (2nd ed., pp. 529–541). Washington: U.S. Government Printing Office.Google Scholar
- King & Spalding. (1990). B&W Conspiracy Notebook. Tobacco Products Liability Project Collection: Bates #503143822.Google Scholar
- Kluger, R. (1997). Ashes to Ashes: America’s Hundred-Year Cigarette War, the Public Health, and the Unabashed Triumph of Philip Morris. New York: Vintage Books.Google Scholar
- Kyriakoudes, L. M. (2006). Historians’ testimony on “common knowledge” of the risks of tobacco use: a review and analysis of experts testifying on behalf of cigarette manufacturers in civil litigation. Tobacco Control, 15(suppl 4), iv107-iv116.Google Scholar
- Laszlo, C., & Zhexembayeva, N. (2011). Embedded sustainability: The next big competitive advantage. Stanford: Stanford University Press.Google Scholar
- Le Goff, J. (1978). Documento/Monumento. In Enciclopedia Einaudi (Vol. 5, pp. 38-48). Torino: Einaudi.Google Scholar
- Lowenthal, D. (2015). The Past is a Foreign Country—Revisited (Revised and updated (edition ed.). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
- Maclean, M., Harvey, C., Sillince, J. A. A., & Golant, B. D. (2014). Living up to the past? Ideological sensemaking in organizational transition. Organization, 21(4), 543–567.Google Scholar
- Morini, H. A. (1981). Note to All No. 1’s of Associated Companies: Legal Considerations in Smoking and Health Issues. Tobacco Products Liability Project Collection: Bates #109870817.Google Scholar
- Mozingo, R. L. (1986). The Tobacco Institute’s College of Tobacco Knowledge. Tobacco Institute Records: Bates #TI08820683.Google Scholar
- Neuberger, M. B. (1963). Smoke screen: Tobacco and the public welfare. Englewood Cliffs: Prentice-Hall.Google Scholar
- Norr, R. (1952). Cancer by the carton. Reader’s Digest, 61(368), 7–8.Google Scholar
- Norris, Floyd. (1996). A Fight That’s All Smoke and Mirrors. (1996, Mar 17). New York Times, p. 1.Google Scholar
- Oreskes, N., & Conway, E. M. (2011). Merchants of doubt: How a handful of scientists obscured the truth on issues from tobacco smoke to global warming. New York: Bloomsbury.Google Scholar
- Panzer, F. (1972). The Roper Proposal. Philip Morris Records: Bates #3990468418.Google Scholar
- Pepples, E. (1978). CTR Budget. Brown & Williamson Records: Bates #682630804.Google Scholar
- Peirce, C. S. (1931). Collected Papers of Charles Sanders Peirce. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
- Philip Morris. (1984). Monthly Progress Reports. Period Covered: June 1–30. Philip Morris Records: Bates #2001115061.Google Scholar
- Pringle, P. (1998). Cornered: Big tobacco at the bar of justice. New York: Henry Holt and Company.Google Scholar
- Proctor, R. N. (2004). “Tobacco and Health”—Expert Witness Report Filed on behalf of Plaintiffs in: “The United States of America, Plaintiff, v. Philip Morris, Inc., et al., Defendants,” Civil Action No. 99-CV-02496 (GK) (Federal case). The Journal of Philosophy, Science & Law, 4(March).Google Scholar
- Proctor, R. N. (2006). “Everyone knew but no one had proof”: tobacco industry use of medical history expertise in US courts, 1990–2002. Tobacco Control, 15(Suppl 4), iv117-iv125.Google Scholar
- Proctor, R. N. (2011). Golden holocaust: Origins of the cigarette catastrophe and the case for abolition. Berkeley: University of California Press.Google Scholar
- Research, C. f. T. (1974). Facilities of the CTR Library—June 1974. Council for Tobacco Research Records: Bates #HT0116002.Google Scholar
- Saunders, B., Sim, J., Kingstone, T., Baker, S., Waterfield, J., Bartlam, B., … Jinks, C. (2018). Saturation in qualitative research: exploring its conceptualization and operationalization. Quality & Quantity, 52(4), 1893–1907.Google Scholar
- Schuck, P. H. (1987). Agent Orange on trial: Mass toxic disasters in the courts. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
- Sherri Hubbird, as Personal Representative of the Estate of David R. Ellsworth, deceased, and on behalf of Kerri L. Ellsworth, Plaintiffs, v. R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company, Defendant. Videotaped Deposition of Robert N. Proctor, Ph.D. Volume 1 (2014). Depositions and Trial Testimony (DATTA).Google Scholar
- Simons, T., Vermeulen, P. A. M., & Knoben, J. (2016). There’s no beer without a smoke: Community cohesion and neighboring communities’ effects on organizational resistance to antismoking regulations in the Dutch hospitality industry. Academy of Management Journal, 59(2), 545–578.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Spiliotis, S.-S. (2006). Corporate responsibility and historical injustice. In J. H. Keane (Ed.), Civil society: Berlin perspectives (pp. 51–70). Berlin: Berghan Books.Google Scholar
- Stinchcombe, A. L. (1965). Social Structure and Organizations. In J. G. March (Ed.), Handbook of organizations (pp. 142–193). Chicago: Rand McNally.Google Scholar
- Sturken, M. (1997). Tangled memories: The Vietnam War, the AIDS epidemic, and the politics of remembering. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press.Google Scholar
- Sydow, J., Schreyögg, G., & Koch, J. (2009). Organizational path dependence: Opening the black box. Academy of Management Review, 34(4), 689–709.Google Scholar
- Taubes, G., & Couzens, C. K. (2012). Sweet little lies. Mother Jones, 37(6), 34–69.Google Scholar
- Teague, C. E. Jr. (1953). Survey of cancer research with emphasis upon possible carcinogens from tobacco R.J. Reynolds Records: Bates# 521185124.Google Scholar
- Tobacco Industry Research Committee. (1953). A frank statement to the public by the makers of cigarettes. Ness Motley Law Firm Documents: Bates #4720.Google Scholar
- Truth and Reconciliation Commission of South Africa. (2003). TRC Final Report—Volume 6—Section 2.Google Scholar
- Union of Concerned Scientists. (2007). Smoke, mirrors & hot air: How ExxonMobil uses big tobacco’s tactics to manufacture uncertainty on climate science. Cambridge: Union of Concerned Scientists.Google Scholar
- U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (2014). The health consequences of smoking—50 years of progress: A report of the surgeon general. Atlanta, GA: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Office on Smoking and Health.Google Scholar
- US v. Philip Morris USA, Inc (2006). F. Supp. 2d (Vol. 449, pp. 1): Dist. Court, Dist. of Columbia.Google Scholar
- Wells, J. K. III. (1980). New strategy on smoking & health. Ness Motley Law Firm Documents: Bates #680051009.Google Scholar
- Wells, J. K. III. (1984). Suggested changes to Blackman paper. UCSF Brown & Williamson Collection: Bates #1833.Google Scholar
- Wertsch, J. V. (2004). Voices of collective remembering. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
- Written trial testimony of Frederick Theodore Gulson, September 2004, United States of America v. Philip Morris USA Inc (2004). Depositions and Trial Testimony (DATTA): Bates #gulsonf-er.Google Scholar
- Wynder, E. L., Graham, E. A., & Croninger, A. B. (1953). Experimental production of carcinoma with cigarette tar. Cancer Research, 13(12), 855–864.Google Scholar
- Yeaman, A. (1963). Implications of Battelle Hippo I & II and the Grifffith Filter. UCSF Brown & Williamson Collection: Bates #1802.Google Scholar
- Yin, R. K. (2014). Case study research: Design and methods (5th ed.). Thousand Oaks: Sage Publications.Google Scholar
- Tobacco Archives: http://www.tobaccoarchives.com/.
- Truth Tobacco Industry Documents Archive: https://www.industrydocumentslibrary.ucsf.edu/tobacco/.
- Tobacco.org: http://archive.tobacco.org/.
- Philip Morris USA Inc. Public Document Site: http://www.pmdocs.com/.
- R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company Online Litigation Document Archive: http://www.rjrtdocs.com/.
- NIH-NCI Tobacco-Documents Project at The University of Georgia: http://www.tobaccodocs.uga.edu/.
- Surgeon General Reports: https://profiles.nlm.nih.gov/NN/ListByDate.html.
- Tobacco Control Laws: http://www.tobaccocontrollaws.org/.