Published: March 30, 2015
Business ethics case competition

For insights from the winning team - watch the video here!

The Center for Education on Social Responsibility (CESR) hosted the final round of the third annual Business Ethics Case Competition at the University of Colorado Boulder on Friday, March 13th. The case competition was a unique opportunity for Leeds School of Business students to tackle real world ethical issues that they are likely to face in their professional careers, with an added incentive of $10,000 in prize money distributed across three winning teams.

The Case

This year’s ethical challenge presented a scenario regarding fracking, a hotly debated topic across the country. Specifically, the case looked at whether it’s ethical for a fracking company to make payments to neighboring land owners to avoid future liability.

Owen Borum, a CESR faculty member and director of the Business Ethics Case Competition, explained, “On the one hand it’s a negotiated market transaction and on the other hand it’s not clear that neighboring land owners understand the implications of that agreement. So the question is whether both sides have sufficient information to enter into a true free market transaction?” The case challenged students to balance these competing interests and think of solutions that weighed the ethical, legal and financial elements of the issue.

This year was the first time the competition was split into two rounds due to rising popularity of the event -- the competition has tripled its number of participants over the past three years. The preliminary round narrowed the field down from 11 teams to six teams. Teams consisted of both upper and lowerclassmen enrolled at Leeds, which resulted in a wide variety of recommendations.

The Winners

Of the final six teams, one rose above the rest and won the first-place prize of $5,000. The team, known as "Pot of Gold Consulting," included Michael Angelico, Jamie Green, Kate Harris, Hatem Farag, Megan Larsen and Noha Kikhia. Along with excellent critical thinking, the team attributed their success to their diverse backgrounds and areas of expertise, as well as their ethical decision making skills learned in CESR courses.

Jamie Green said, “My team and I were very fortunate to participate in the competition and we got so much out of it. The experience was extremely rewarding and I learned so much throughout the process.” Beyond the experience gained, students also were able to meet with the judges in a networking event held after the competition. This provided an opportunity for students and professionals to connect, which further added value to the event.

The panel of judges came from both academic and corporate backgrounds, including Kristi Ryujin, director of the Leeds Office of Diversity Affairs, Beth Cross, a former CESR instructor and longtime IBM employee, Rick Doty, an accountant in Boulder who has taught ethics courses for accountants, and Robert Ryan who is EVP and Co-Founder of TrustedCare, Inc.

The second place team received $3000, and third place walked away with $2000.

Becoming Leaders of Conscience

How do students learn how to make tough ethical evaluations and decisions? CESR’s curriculum offers the tools and guidance to help students identify their values and apply them to challenging ethical dilemmas in business.