In February, three student teams competed for the opportunity to represent the College of the Holy Cross at the Intercollegiate Business Ethics Case Competition from May 9-10 in San Diego, Calif. Originating in 1989, the competition is the nation’s oldest and most recognized business ethics tournament, and is judged by ethics officers from local companies and other ethics authorities. At its core, the tournament aims to help students with key ethical issues encountered in contemporary business and to realize that it is possible to conduct business profitably while acting ethically.
This year, the team will be comprised of Eric Butts ’14, Amanda Osowski ’14 and Gareth Purdy ’14, who successfully presented their case, “BP’s Marketing Campaign and its context within the company’s economic liabilities related to the Deepwater Horizon oil well spill in 2010” to a panel of judges.” Judges for the competition included Victor Matheson, associate professor of economics; Scott Sandstrom, associate professor of accounting and prelaw advisor; and Janet Dellea, manager of business ethics and compliance at Raytheon, a company that specializes in defense and aerospace systems.
Remarking on the purpose of the competition, Karen Teitel, associate professor of accounting at the College, says, “We believe students should have an opportunity to learn about the types of ethical dilemmas they will encounter when they enter the workforce. The symposium will help students explore basic human questions of meaning, morality, and mutual obligation in a business context.”
Teitel also explains that the competition is in line with the College’s ethical mission, and that it is academically profound. Noting the competition’s multidisciplinary approach, she says, “The students have an opportunity to see issues from multiple viewpoints and to develop creative solutions.”
“It was really rewarding to have advanced,” says Amanda Osowski ‘14, a philosophy major on the winning team. Responding to the infamous BP Gulf Coast oil spill, her team scrutinized the company’s use of logos at the end of commercials meant to benefit the Gulf Coast tourism industry, and questioned if those not directly impacted by the spill have legitimate claims for a loss of tourist revenue.
According to Eric Butts, an economics major on the team, their answer is two-fold. “As it is part of a continued comprehensive effort to promote and market the gulf, it is ethical for BP to display their logo at the end of gulf coast tourism advertisements. Additionally, we argued that regions not directly impacted by the spill do have a legitimate claim to financial compensation.”
Commenting on the team’s success, professor Teitel remarks, “The team’s presentation skills are very strong. The topic is not focused on the spill itself but rather on the marketing campaign subsequent to the spill.” Then, looking ahead to the national competition, she says, “I think their perspective on the issue will serve them well.”
Other teams who competed on the hill included Diana Baker ’13, Patrick Conlon ’13, Matthew Gallo ’13 and Kelsey Smith ’13, with a presentation titled “Exploitative Marketing Practices at the University of Phoenix”; and Corey Beck ’13, Arthur Norden ’14, Meredith Bates ’13 and Luke Sullivan ’13 for their presentation, “HSBC’s Recent Ethics Violations.”