Elon team places in Collegiate Ethics Case Competition

Two Martha and Spencer Love School of Business students competed against teams from top public and private business schools from throughout the U.S., Canada and Mexico.

The Elon team of David Comerford ‘17 and Margo Pierson ‘18 placed second in its division in the annual Collegiate Ethics Case Competition held Oct. 20-22 in Tucson, Arizona, and sponsored by the Eller College of Management at the University of Arizona.

David Comerford ‘17 and Margo Pierson ‘18 finished second in the North Region in the annual Collegiate Ethics Case Competittion.
This year’s case challenged teams to create a 30-minute presentation that proposed to Apple Inc. a solution on how to handle cases of data privacy in circumstances that deal with serious security issues, such as those in the December 2015 San Bernadino terrorist attack. The ethical issue involved the conflict between privacy and national security; teams were asked to recommend a policy that Apple could apply to similar situations in the future. The solution had to address the ethical, legal and financial issues, taking into account the interests of all stakeholders, from the FBI to Apple customers to the general public.

Preparing for a case like this required a lot of research, thought and analysis. “After receiving the case, we spent about a week digging through research and piecing together our thoughts all over whiteboards in the business school,” said Pierson, a management and marketing double major. “As is usually the case with ethics, there was no clear solution and with more information came more erased whiteboards. By the time presentations began, we felt prepared and confident with our solution.”

The competition involved 25 schools, each seeded into one of five regions. The Elon team competed in the North Region, which also consisted of teams from the University of Texas at Austin, who won last year’s competition, Pennsylvania State University, the University of Iowa, and the University of Calgary. Elon placed a close second behind the University of Calgary, who placed third overall in the competition.

Scott Buechler, associate dean of the Love School of Business and associate professor of business communications, mentored the team.

“While our presentations to our case analysis class and the Love School of Business Board of Advisors helped prepare us in the week leading up to the competition, there was still a mix of nerves and excitement as we presented to the eight ethics leaders judging our division,” said finance major Comerford. “We felt great about the feedback from the judges after the competition and had a lot of fun making some new friends along the way. Overall, it was a great competition and we are happy with our performance!”

The final results were:

  • 1st place: United States Naval Academy
  • 2nd place: Simon Fraser University
  • 3rd place: University of Calgary
  • 4th place: University of Washington
  • 5th place: Boston College

The five regional runners-up were Elon University, Concordia University, University of Florida, University of Pittsburgh and Georgetown University.

By Scott Buechler, associate dean and associate professor of business communications