MBAs Make the Case for a New Business Model

May 7, 2010

Linda Lehrer
Communications Director
The Aspen Institute Business and Society Program
(212) 895-8002

The Weatherhead School of Management at Case Western Reserve University Wins Prestigious Aspen Institute Business & Society Case Competition

NEW YORK, May 7, 2010 – How can business leaders balance the need for business growth while being responsive to the social and environmental needs of the communities in which they operate?  That was the issue business students from 25 leading international business schools responded to a new, complex case study addressing today’s international management challenges, based on the experiences of The Tata Group, a multinational company—and India’s largest business group—operating in seven business sectors.

The winning submission, created by MBA students from The Weatherhead School of Management at Case Western Reserve University, was presented to a panel of judges from Fortune 500 companies as well as an audience of over 100 business, nonprofit and academic attendees on Friday evening, April 30th, at the W New York hotel in midtown Manhattan.  The Weatherhead School was one of five school teams that were flown to New York for the final round of judging.  The top four other schools were:

  • Mendoza College of Business, University of Notre Dame
  • Leonard N. Stern School of Business, New York University
  • School of Business and Economics, University of Jyväskylä (Finland)
  • Kellogg School of Management, Northwestern University

The Weatherhead School received a $20,000 prize plus $3,000 to donate to a 501(c)(3) charity of their choice.  This year’s total prize pool was $40,000.

The presentation and award reception are the culmination of a process that began in early April with on-campus competitions at the 25 schools to determine first place campus winners.  Their work was then reviewed by a group of academic judges to determine the final five teams.

“Congratulations to Nicholas, Maria, Patricia and Lei on their hard work and ingenuity,” said Mohan Reddy, Ph.D., Dean of the Weatherhead School of Management. “I’m so proud of our team’s achievement and the Aspen Institute’s recognition of our talented graduate students. Winning the Aspen Institute’s Business and Society Case Competition is especially meaningful for a team from our school, because Sustainable Enterprise is one of our core transdisciplinary themes. It is emphasized throughout our graduate programming.” He continued, “We believe that business can and must pursue financial success in a positive, socially-responsible manner, and our commitment to sustainability is part of that conviction.”

“As a Tata representative, I was impressed by all the teams’ grasp of the essential Tata core values, and our need to maintain a commitment to society while growing globally,” said David Good, chief representative-North America. “I am proud that Tata was chosen as the Aspen case study this year and encouraged by the several excellent ideas that grew out of the competition.”

The case competition, the largest focusing on social, ethical and environmental issues, is sponsored by The Aspen Institute Business and Society Program, whose mission is to equip business leaders for the 21st century with a new management paradigm—the vision and knowledge to integrate corporate profitability and social value.

“What current business students learn about the complex relationship of business and society, facilitates the changes we need to grow and thrive as a global community,” says Judith Samuelson, Executive Director of the Aspen Institute Business and Society Program. “We are inspired by the work presented by these 20 students today.   It demonstrates their business schools’ commitment to teaching thoughtful and long-term business strategies that balance the needs of a wide range of stakeholders.”

The Aspen Institute Business and Society Program has sponsored an annual case competition since 2002. This year’s competition, with a record number of participating schools, is sponsored by:

  • Deutsche Bank
  • Humana
  • ING
  • Levi Strauss & Co.
  • L’Oréal
  • Motorola Foundation
  • Green is Universal, NBC Universal
  • Verizon

To read the winning school’s responses to this year’s case study and to learn more about the Competition, please visit

The Aspen Institute Business and Society Program is dedicated to developing leaders for a sustainable global society.  Through dialogue and path-breaking research, it creates opportunity for executives and educators to explore new pathways to sustainability and values-based leadership.  Founded in 1950, the Aspen Institute is an international nonprofit organization that fosters enlightened leadership, the appreciation of timeless values and ideas, and open-minded dialogue on contemporary issues.

    For information on other Aspen Institute Business and Society Programs, go to

View Comments