Illegal immigrant labor, politics, and business survival collide to challenge students' reasoning in the Eller College of Management's National Ethics Case Competition Oct. 27–28
TUCSON, Ariz. – October 27, 2005 – With WorldCom's Bernard Ebbers, Tyco's Dennis Kozlowski, and Adelphia's John Rigas all having been convicted of white-collar crimes, and with former House Majority Leader Tom Delay under indictment for money laundering and conspiring to violate election laws, it's easy to believe that ethical leadership is just a quaint idea, long dead if it ever existed.
The Eller College of Management at The University of Arizona (UA) has a better idea. On Oct. 27 and 28, the Eller College will host the National Ethics Case Competition — the evolution of last year's regional competition and a new high point for E-tegrity (for "Eller Integrity"), an initiative the College launched in 2003 to emphasize integrity and ethical behavior in its curriculum and culture.
"Our namesake, Karl Eller, has always emphasized the importance of integrity in business," said Paul Portney, dean of the Eller College. "That legacy has become a defining element of our programs, so it's fitting that we take ethics into the national arena with this competition."
To compete, students take on the roles of executives at a construction company faced with an all-too common dilemma — whether or not to use brokers that provide low-cost, ill-treated illegal workers, knowing that everyone else in their industry does it as a way to win contracts with lower bids. In oral and visual presentations, students weigh the burn of social, legal, and political heat against a seemingly fatal competitive handicap, identifying stakeholders, detailing the financial, legal, and ethical considerations, and proposing how the company should proceed. A team of judges questions teams after each presentation and ultimately selects the winners.
"These are the kinds of dilemmas that students today will face when they're in positions of leadership," said Paul Melendez, director of academic and external affairs for the College, lecturer in the School of Public Administration and Policy, and one of the primary organizers of the E-tegrity initiative. "This experience challenges students' ethical reasoning and raises their awareness of the importance and complexity of corporate social responsibility."
The E-tegrity initiative integrates coursework focused on ethics, guest speakers, technologies for detecting plagiarism, a student Board of Honor and Integrity, a code of ethics, and a student oath. In 2004 the College hosted a regional Ethics Case Competition. Since launching the program, the College has seen a measurable increase in the number of students reporting unethical behavior.
The competition will face off student teams from The University of Arizona and 12 other schools from across the country: Arizona State University, Brigham Young University, Oregon State University, Pennsylvania State University, San Diego State University, Seattle University, University of Minnesota, University of Southern California, University of Texas at Austin, University of Utah, University of Washington, and University of Wyoming. Major sponsors for the competition include the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners, Better Business Bureau of Southern Arizona, EthicsPoint Inc., Hewlett-Packard Company, Integrity Systems Inc., and Target Corporation.
The Eller College of Management at the University of Arizona is internationally recognized for pioneering research, innovative curriculum, distinguished faculty, excellence in management information systems, entrepreneurship, and social responsibility. U.S. News & World Report ranks the Eller undergraduate program #11 among public business schools and two of its programs are among the top 20 — Entrepreneurship and MIS. U.S. News & World Report ranks the Eller MBA Full-Time program #48 in the U.S. The College is among the leaders of business schools generating grant funds for research. In addition to a Full-Time MBA program, the Eller College offers the 25th ranked Evening MBA program, the Eller Executive MBA and the Online MBA. The Eller College of Management supports more than 5,000 undergraduate and 600 graduate students on the UA campus in beautiful Tucson, Arizona, and a satellite campus in Phoenix.
Liz Warren-Pederson, Eller College of Management
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