Eller Collegiate Ethics Case Competition Prepares Next Generation of Business Leaders

Oct. 31, 2019


In the Fourth Industrial Revolution, shareholders are holding companies to higher ethical standards than ever before. Managers must continually balance the financial interests of the organization with their legal and ethical responsibilities. While ethical challenges facing companies aren’t going away, the next generation of business leaders are learning to solve them.

Every year, teams from colleges across North America gather at Eller's Collegiate Ethics Case Competition in Tucson to debate how best to handle today’s most pressing business ethics issues. The teams take on such topics as Apple versus the FBI, the morality of artificial intelligence and Boeing’s response to the 737 Max dilemma.

Paul Melendez, management and organizations professor of practice and Center for Leadership Ethics founder, established the competition in 2002 and develops the objective criteria the teams use to evaluate problems. “When you have an ethical dilemma, you need to include critical components—the stakeholder, economic, legal and ethical dimensions,” says Melendez. “Then you can make an informed decision and get a really good culture of accountability and respect.”

The competition exposes students to a thought-provoking business ethics case that they could face in their professional careers. In each of the competition’s three rounds the teams present their argument to a panel of judges, who evaluate them on depth of analysis, creativity and persuasiveness among other criteria. The team that scores the highest in the final round is declared the winner.

According to Melendez, the experience is designed to challenge students’ moral reasoning and raise awareness of the importance of corporate social responsibility. With 25 teams participating, it also provides an excellent networking opportunity.

In the most recent Collegiate Ethics Case Competition held October 18, Ethan Mader and Paulina Hruskoci from the University of Texas at Dallas took first place. They won an all-inclusive trip to the Ethisphere 2020 Global Ethics Summit in New York City next April, along with $500 donated by Ethisphere. The team from the University of Texas at Austin placed second, followed by teams from the University of Florida, Indiana University and Pennsylvania State University.


Ethan Mader and Paulina Hruskoci from the University of Texas at Dallas
Ethan Mader and Paulina Hruskoci of the University of Texas at Dallas won the 2019 Collegiate Ethics Case Competition.

Learn more about the transformative educational programs of the Center for Leadership Ethics.