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Ethics Test Yields Award For Students

Imagine you sat on the board of a nonprofit, and you became aware of fraud inside the organization. How would you handle it? A team of students from the MBA program at California State University – Northridge addressed that question with their entry in the International Business Ethics Case Competition held at the Marriott Hotel in Santa Monica in April. The competition, which started out as a small on-campus event at Loyola Marymount University has grown in the last 20 years to host international schools such as Oxford University and University of Hong Kong. This year’s competition was the largest yet with over 30 schools, and CSUN took second place. The students were asked to find inspiration from current ethical dilemmas and recommend solutions that account for legal, financial and ethical repercussions. “We encourage students to find something as cutting-edge as possible,” said Thomas White, founder of the competition. “It’s interesting to see how they can spot issues before they become mainstream.” In the past, competing students have tackled issues such as sub-prime mortgage lending and piracy in the shipping industry. This year, CSUN students examined fraud in the nonprofit sector. The student team played the role of a charity consulting firm and presented solutions to judges who acted as executives of a large accounting firm. “The primary goal is to provide the students with a practical setting that mimics the situation the students will find themselves in when they work in business,” said White. “And you can reduce the ethics of business to two things: Is anyone being harmed? And are people being treated appropriately?” This was CSUN’s first time entering the competition. The students finished as runner-up behind Hong Kong University of Science and Technology. “The fact that they did so well their first year is definitely a significant accomplishment,” White noted. As more companies publicize their mission statements, ethics have become an important part of their identity. “Most companies want people to come to work and feel good about where they work and bring their values to the job,” White said. – Iris Lee

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