Business School

Business and Society Program Hosts International MBA Case Competition

May 13, 2011  • Nicole Buckley

In this year’s Aspen Institute Business & Society International MBA Case Competition, nearly 1,000 students at 25 leading business schools from around the world analyzed the costs and benefits of expanding the US presence of a Chinese renewable energy company. This new case – produced by the Yale School of Management – challenged students to innovate at the intersection of corporate profitability and environmental, social, and ethical issues.

Students had one weekend to analyze and respond to the case study. On-campus competitions determined first-place campus winners, whose work was reviewed by academic judges to determine five finalist teams. The finalist teams flew to New York City to present their recommendations to a panel of corporate representatives and to compete for their share of a $40,000 prize pool. This year’s winners were:

  • 1st Place: Wilfrid Laurier University, School of Business and Economics (Canada)
  • 2nd Place: Villanova University, Villanova School of Business (United States)
  • 3rd Place: ESADE Business School (Spain)
  • 4th Place: Baylor University, Hankamer School of Business (United States)
  • 5th Place: IESA – Instituto de Estudios Superiores de Administración (Venezuela)
Corporate Judging Panel as they
listened to the finalist presentations.
Foreground: Carsten Tams, Bertelsmann, Inc.
Far end: Erik Joule, from Levi Strauss & Co.

In a pre-event final judging round, each of the five teams presented their analysis to a panel of judges. Our esteemed 2011 judges were Beth Colleton, VP of green is universal, NBCUniversal; Erik Joule, head of men’s merchandising, design, and licensing, Levi Strauss & Co.; Asad Mahmood, managing director, Global Social Investment Fund at Deutsche Bank; Mark Nieker, president, Pearson Foundation; Bill Rompf, internal consultant, corporate marketing strategy & planning, Humana; Maureen Scully, associate professor in management at the University of Massachusetts Boston; Professor K. Sudhir, Yale School of Management, and; Carsten Tams, senior VP, ethics and compliance, Bertelsmann, Inc.

Once the judges deliberated on the five finalists, the event was opened to a larger audience of approximately 200 guests for whom the winning team presented again (View Round One written analysis and Final Round presentations). Jaan Elias, author of the solar case from the Yale School of Management, shared his experience in working together with the Chinese solar company to develop a case study on its international expansion, and on the process of integrating video and other multimedia as part of the case materials.

Great perspective on the importance of the Case Competition was shared during the program by Krishen Mehta, a former partner of PwC and advisor to the Business & Society Program. Corporations, he offered, are supported by society as much as they serve society. They use, for example, society’s roads, labor, and legal system. With this dependence on society comes the responsibility to carefully watch over the corporate impact on the greater community and the land upon which our society thrives. As we write cases for MBA students to analyze, therefore, it is important that responsibility is integrated into the assessment – something the Case Competition holds as its mission.

Priyanka Sundaram, of the winning
Wilfrid Laurier University team,
presenting “The Perfect City Block”

As we move forward to support the integration of sustainability and social impact into mainstream business education, we seek endorsement from corporations to support progress in MBA education. This Case Competition was made possible by the generous support of NBCUniversal, Levi Strauss & Co., Bertelsmann, Inc., Deutsche Bank, Humana, Motorola Solutions Foundation, Pearson Foundation, and K. Mehta.

Learn more about the 2011 Business & Society International MBA Case Competition by visiting the Competition’s official website:

View photos from the Aspen Institute 2011 International Case Competition.