Teaching Note: “Chaos in Cambodia”

Keywords: offshoring; working conditions; international development; labour; manufacturing;


This narrative puts the reader in the role of the Operations Manager for a mid-sized garment company, on the day that a sub-contractor’s factory explodes in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. It raises questions both of personal responsibility, and of a company’s responsibility for safety along its supply chain.

The people and companies in this narrative are fictional, but the story is rooted in reality. The narrative is loosely based on the Rana factory collapse, which occurred in Dhaka, Bangladesh, in 2013.

Possible Questions for Discussion:

  • Who is responsible for the deaths at the factory in Phnom Pen? 
  • What is the ethical weight of Sareh’s noting that Simply Bergaya doesn’t actually own any factories, but instead has contracts with factory owners to produce their garments?
  • Is a company like Simply Bergaya justified in relying on local contractors, and local inspectors, to ensure safe working conditions?


2013 Dhaka garment factory collapse (Wikipedia)

Collapse at Rana Plaza (video & notes from Ethics Unwrapped)

Globalization (Concise Encyclopedia of Business Ethics)