How a corporation stymied Ebola

A vivid natural experiment has just taken place in Ebola-ravaged Liberia. Scott Ott of PJ Media’s Tatler blog picked up a report from NPR and nails the significance:

While governments and nonprofits have been stymied in their efforts to stymie the spread of the Ebola virus, Firestone Tire & Rubber has apparently succeeded among its 80,000 Liberian employees and their families. When a wife of a Firestone employee showed up ill after caring for an Ebola victim, the staff of the evil capitalist corporation leaped into action.

“None of us had any Ebola experience,” he says. They scoured the Internet for information about how to treat Ebola. They cleared out a building on the hospital grounds and set up an isolation ward. They grabbed a bunch of hazmat suits for dealing with chemical spills at the rubber factory and gave them to the hospital staff. The suits worked just as well for Ebola cases.

Firestone immediately quarantined the family of the woman. Like so many Ebola patients, she died soon after being admitted to the ward. But no one else at Firestone got infected: not her family and not the workers who transported, treated and cared for her.

Firestone set up a 23-bed isolation facility, which is now treating Ebola patients that have come from outside its 185 square mile rubber plantation. As Ott notes, NPR stressed that Firestone is wealthy, compared to Liberia. But he nails what is really at issue:

 I think they miss the “X” factor that causes these private-sector employees to succeed outside of their bailiwick: They’re accustomed to setting goals, achieving results and being rewarded based on actual accomplishments. In addition, they’re innovative, and know that one must often improvise and create rapid prototypes on the way to the ultimate product.

One might add that people who work for companies usually can get fired when they demonstrate incompetence.

Firestone, which is now a subsidiary of Japan’s Bridgestone, has a long history in Liberia, and over the years has been accused of many things in that troubled nation, including the awful charge of paternalism.  It understood clearly that the health of its employees and their families is critical to its own success. The contrast with the bungling of government agencies in this country is startling and instructive.

A vivid natural experiment has just taken place in Ebola-ravaged Liberia. Scott Ott of PJ Media’s Tatler blog picked up a report from NPR and nails the significance:

While governments and nonprofits have been stymied in their efforts to stymie the spread of the Ebola virus, Firestone Tire & Rubber has apparently succeeded among its 80,000 Liberian employees and their families. When a wife of a Firestone employee showed up ill after caring for an Ebola victim, the staff of the evil capitalist corporation leaped into action.

“None of us had any Ebola experience,” he says. They scoured the Internet for information about how to treat Ebola. They cleared out a building on the hospital grounds and set up an isolation ward. They grabbed a bunch of hazmat suits for dealing with chemical spills at the rubber factory and gave them to the hospital staff. The suits worked just as well for Ebola cases.

Firestone immediately quarantined the family of the woman. Like so many Ebola patients, she died soon after being admitted to the ward. But no one else at Firestone got infected: not her family and not the workers who transported, treated and cared for her.

Firestone set up a 23-bed isolation facility, which is now treating Ebola patients that have come from outside its 185 square mile rubber plantation. As Ott notes, NPR stressed that Firestone is wealthy, compared to Liberia. But he nails what is really at issue:

 I think they miss the “X” factor that causes these private-sector employees to succeed outside of their bailiwick: They’re accustomed to setting goals, achieving results and being rewarded based on actual accomplishments. In addition, they’re innovative, and know that one must often improvise and create rapid prototypes on the way to the ultimate product.

One might add that people who work for companies usually can get fired when they demonstrate incompetence.

Firestone, which is now a subsidiary of Japan’s Bridgestone, has a long history in Liberia, and over the years has been accused of many things in that troubled nation, including the awful charge of paternalism.  It understood clearly that the health of its employees and their families is critical to its own success. The contrast with the bungling of government agencies in this country is startling and instructive.