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Eller College Home > Our Stories > Governance and Social Responsibility > Undergrads analyze Tata Nano

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Governance and Social Responsibility : Eller Undergrads Analyze New Tata Nano at National Ethics Competition

Ethics competition team

Eller's winning Intercollegiate Business Ethics Competition team (left to right): Austin Parise, Gabrielle Johnston, Brittany Smythe, and Lee Klein with Management and Organizations Lecturer Paul Melendez.

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Tata Nano


June 2009

By Taylor Albers, Journalism '11

Eller team wins kudos for its choice of topic at Loyola Marymount University Intercollegiate Business Ethics Competition

A team of Eller College students competed against 26 undergraduate and graduate schools in the Loyola Marymount University Intercollegiate Business Ethics Competition in April.

Each of the competing teams presented analysis of a self-selected ethics case to a judging panel. The Eller team presentation focused on the Tata Nano, a new, India-produced sub-compact car billed as the “least expensive car in the world.” The Eller students delivered and finished at the top of the undergraduate division.

For Gabrielle Johnston (BSPA and BSBA Management ’10), the hardest part was selecting the topic to present in competition. “We researched current events and sought out the help of our faculty advisor, Paul Melendez,” she says. Melendez suggested the Tata Nano because he had just begun writing an ethics case on the topic and knew that the vehicle was going to roll off the production line in April. “The timing was perfect,” he says.

The students were required to deliver a 20-minute presentation on the ethical, legal, and philosophical issues of their case. “They spent countless hours researching, developing their presentation, and rehearsing,” says Melendez. The team met three times a week for four months in order to deliver the best presentation they possibly could. “It was a long process, but overall the time and effort we spent each week were rewarded by the results of the competition,” says Brittany Smythe (BSBA Business Management ’11).

The team believes that the Tata Nano needs more safety features, that it should run on alternative fuels, and that Tata Motors should assist in developing India’s infrastructure in order to accommodate the increased number of vehicles on the roads. “Not only did I have the experience to research and talk about a topic on such a professional level, but I also learned a lot about other ethical dilemmas that students researched and devoted their time to,” explains Smythe.

The students made it to the final four, placing 3rd against international MBA teams, and won the Kerrigan Award. “I feel this competition will give me something solid to put on my resume and has provided me with more experience presenting in pressure situations,” says Lee Klein (BSBA Business Management & Entrepreneurship ’10). 

Smythe agrees. “As a sophomore and first-semester cohort student, I know there are many more presentations that await me, and this competition has provided me with the experience I need to be confident in public speaking situations.”

Melendez is also thrilled with the results of the competition. “As a faculty member in ethics, I couldn't be prouder. The topic was received well; the depth of analysis, sophistication of recommendations, and delivery was worthy of a finalist finish.”

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