ABB: Providing "Access to Electricity"|Business Ethics|Case Study|Case Studies

ABB: Providing "Access to Electricity"

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Case Details:

Case Code : BECG052
Case Length : 11 Pages
Period : 1992-2005
Pub. Date : 2005
Teaching Note : Available
Organization : ABB Group
Industry : Electric Equipment industry
Countries : Switzerland

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This case study was compiled from published sources, and is intended to be used as a basis for class discussion. It is not intended to illustrate either effective or ineffective handling of a management situation. Nor is it a primary information source.

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"Sustainability is at the heart of our business. With our power and automation technology products and solutions, we help our customers use less energy, cut their consumption of raw materials and reduce waste. Sustainability helps improve our competitiveness."

- Jörgen Centerman, President and CEO, ABB in 2002.1

"Access to electricity is a key to economic and social development. A thriving local private sector is an engine for development, and responsible action by global business may counter the present financial and economic marginalization of the least developed countries. We contribute by introducing technical and commercial solutions to facilitate electrification."

- Christian Kornevall, Senior Vice-President, Sustainability Affairs, ABB in 2004.2


As in 2005, Switzerland-based engineering conglomerate, the ABB Group (ABB), operated through two divisions - power technologies and automation technologies.

Power Technologies provided services to electric, gas and water utilities in the areas of power transmission, distribution and automation; while automation technologies provided solutions for control, motion, protection, and plant integration across the full range of process and utility industries. Sustainability had been made an integral part of all of ABB's businesses. ABB was in the forefront in taking initiatives related to environment-friendly operations and socially responsible measures and activities. ABB's Access to Electricity (ATE) program, which was first implemented in Ngarambe, a village in southern Tanzania, in 2004, and subsequently extended to other areas, was designed to promote economic, environmental and social development in poor communities.

Business Ethics Case Studies | Case Study in Management, Operations, Strategies, Business Ethics, Case Studies

The key features of ATE were; providing electricity at an affordable rate to low-income communities, and building a bottom-up approach by engaging local partners to create appropriate solutions. ABB contributed its commercial and technical expertise in technical design, consultation, training, etc while the partners brought in their own competencies which helped in the social and economic development of the area.

Background Note

ABB was formed in 1988 after the merger of Asea AB3 of Sweden and BBC Brown Boveri4 of Switzerland. Headquartered in Zurich, Switzerland, the company was listed on the Zurich, Stockholm, New York, Frankfurt and London Stock Exchanges. (Refer Exhibit I for more details related to ABB). In 1992, ABB signed the International Chamber of Commerce's Business Charter for Sustainable Development5 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The company established an environmental advisory board, appointed 450 environmental controllers at its sites around the world and started the implementation of an Environmental Management System in 1993.

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3] Asea AB was one of the global leaders in power technology.

4] Manufactured turbines, transformers, generators, control systems etc.

5] The charter is aimed at developing best practices in environment management among the business community.


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