Ethical decision-making takes center stage at student competition

Ethical decision-making takes center stage at student competition

Business ethics has been a long-standing tradition and focus at the Wilson College of Business. Not only are there courses dedicated to educating students, but there is also an emphasis on outside-the-classroom learning, like the annual Ethics Case Competition.

The Ethics Case Competition pits teams of UNI students against each other. The teams present solutions for real-world business ethics scenarios in front of a panel of expert judges. This year's competition was held in early April. The winner, Team Ethos Elite (made up of students Kar Meh, Mevlon Pozhari, Mursal Ahmed Khatian, Nicolas Huiman and Sharyar Khan) earned $2,500 in prize money.

Students receive the case competition outline a week ahead of time. This year the case presented a real story from a few years ago, involving an NYU chemistry professor who was fired after student complaints about his rigorous classes, outdated methods and resistance to change.

There are no directions – students are left to their own knowledge and perspectives.

“We leave it entirely up to them,” said Russell Guay, the host of the competition and the David W. Wilson Chair of Business Ethics. “The only question at the end is taking into account their UNI education.”

Pozhari was part of the winning team. He first heard about the competition through the International Students in Business club. He and his clubmates put together a team of international students and got to work.

A lot of teamwork and time went into the competition. There truly isn’t a correct answer in this competition, but in the end, Pozhari and his team took a broader view, and discussed how the university could’ve done a better job protecting their professor. The panel was impressed by their reasoning and outside-the-box thinking.

“It was a great way to boost our teamwork capabilities,” said Pozhari, who is from Kosovo. “It did serve as a great learning experience because we didn’t have that one person on our team who was an expert, so we all had to learn and work together.”

Ethics are important, particularly today as businesses are under the microscope like never before. Having a competition like this helps students get a taste of what it’s like working through an ethics problem, and how that could apply to their work or field of study.

“I believe in business, everything is relative to each other,” said Khatian, another member of the winning team and a native of Pakistan. “Now that I have some background in ethics, I can use it in my supply chain field or other fields as well. That will be really helpful.”

This competition and ethics learning are made possible by the generosity of David W. Wilson and his family, which sponsors the David W. Wilson Chair of Business Ethics position. The money from that sponsorship also goes toward the prize money for this competition.

“Just how prevalent business ethics is today, we all need to do a better job of being ethical and doing the right thing,” Guay said. “This role sponsored by David Wilson, and the prize money, which also comes from Wilson’s donation, has helped make this happen over the years.”