Elon teams among top three at Southeast Regional Business Ethics Case Competition

Four Martha and Spencer Love School of Business students analyzed a given case from the standpoint of financial, legal/regulatory and ethical dimensions.

Holly Brueggman, Kristen Lober, Caroline Perry and Sarah Devries represented Elon in the Southeast Regional Business Ethics Case Competition.
Two teams of Elon students competed in the Southeast Regional Business Ethics Case Competition (SRBECC), placing second and third overall.

Hosted by Stetson University April 7-8, 2016, the invitational competition divided fourteen teams from nine universities throughout the Southeast into four brackets. The winners from each bracket then competed in the Final Four.

The team of Sarah Devries, a sophomore accounting and management double major, and Caroline Perry, a sophomore international business major, took first place in the Sunshine Bracket. The team of Holly Brueggman, a junior finance and international economics double major, and Kristin Lober, a sophomore accounting and finance double major, took first place in the Beach Bracket. The two Elon teams squared off against a team from Wake Forest University and a team from the University of Florida in the Final Four, placing second and third, respectively. The University of Florida took first place and Wake Forest University placed fourth.

The competition, which took place on Stetson University’s campus in Deland, Fla., involved analyzing a conflict between Publix – the nation’s largest employee-owned grocery store – and the Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW) regarding how best to improve the living conditions of tomato growers in Florida. The CIW advocated retail stores to “pay a penny a pound” extra for every pound of tomatoes, with that extra penny invested in improved working conditions for the workers. Publix, on the other hand, argued that suppliers should take the lead in improving the living conditions of their workers and charge additional for the tomatoes, an approach they call “Put It in the Price.” Competing teams made their case for which approach represented the best business ethics.

“Standing in front of a large crowd of people to present our PowerPoint was terrifying, but this competition taught me that hard work pays off,” Lober said. “We spent hours reading about law and ethics, but in the end we were rewarded with praises and the feeling that we completed a great task.”

“I would’ve never thought of myself as an experienced and confident presenter,” Perry added. “But this experience has taught me to give persuasive and research-based presentations that I didn’t know I was capable of.”

The students are currently enrolled in the “Advanced Case Analysis” course, in which they analyze complex business cases and present the type of recommendations expected of consultants. The course is taught by Scott Buechler, associate professor of business communications and associate dean of the Love School of Business.

“The students performed like pros,” Buechler said. “In preparing for the competition they gave their presentation to faculty members, students and executives, who gave them feedback to help them refine their analysis and polish their presentation. The final product was outstanding. The students performed beyond expectations.”