IBECC: The International Business Ethics Case Competition


IBECC consists of three separate, required competitions: a full presentation followed by Q&A and feedback; a 10-minute presentation and a 90-second presentation, plus our optional academic/athletic biathlon.

Full Presentation

Students put together teams of 3 to 5 members and select an appropriate case. Each team prepares a presentation in which students explain the legal, financial and ethical dimensions of the problem. They then recommend a solution that must pass muster on all three counts. Presentations should last roughly 25 minutes (you will have a 5 minute grace period) and are judged largely by professional corporate ethics and compliance officers.Teams are questioned for an additional 20 to 30 minutes by the judges, who then give the teams feedback on their performance. The idea of the exercise is to help students see that it is possible to do business profitably while at the same time act ethically.The format that works best is for a team to think of itself as either an internal or outside consulting group that has been asked by senior management or the Board to analyze the problem and propose a solution.

Ten minute presentation

This presentation focuses solely on the ethical issues and is given by two or three members of the team. We recommend that teams imagine that this presentation is the result of being called back after their full presentation in order to give a shorter presentation strictly about the ethical issues. There is no Q&A.

Ninety second presentation

This presentation also focuses solely on the ethical issues and is given by one member of the team. We recommend that the speaker imagine that he or she is now an employee at the company and they are at a meeting where people are discussing their topic. However, no one has touched on any of the ethical issues. In 90 seconds, explain to the rest of the people around the table why there are important ethical issues that need to be addressed.

“The World’s Most Intellectually Daunting Biathlon” (optional)

IBECC also includes an optional academic/athletic competition that combines the team’s performance in the 25-minute presentation and either a 4-mile time trial run/jog/walk or the total number of steps accumulated during IBECC. This is also designed to be a fund raiser for a worthy beneficiary: the School of Choice in Haiti. For more detailed information, click here.

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Brief History and Overview

The International Business Ethics Case Competition is the nation’s oldest event of its kind. It was founded in 1996 by Thomas I. White, Ph.D., the Inaugural Conrad N. Hilton Chair in Business Ethics and Director of the Center for Ethics and Business at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles. It was originally designed with the assistance of Fortune 500 senior executives as a classroom exercise at Rider University in New Jersey. When Professor White accepted the Hilton Chair at LMU, he upgraded the exercise to a campus competition. In 1999, other schools were invited; in 2007, the first international school competed; since then, the event has extended its geographic reach In 2008, IBECC partnered with the Ethics & Compliance Officer Association; in 2011, the Opus College of Business at the University of St. Thomas (MN) became a partner, followed in 2015 by the Center for Business Ethics at Bentley University and in 2018 by the Donahue Center for Business Ethics and Social Responsibility.

In 2019, LMU decided to spin off its own competition, and IBECC became an independent 501c3 organization. As of October 15, the following have agreed to support IBECC’s 2020 competition in Boston: the Abigail Adams Institute at Harvard University; the Center for Business Ethics and Governance at Saint Anselm College; the Ciocca Center for Business, Ethics and Society at the College of the Holy Cross; the Donahue Center for Business Ethics and Social Responsibility at the University of Massachusetts at Lowell; the Ethics & Compliance Initiative; the Isenberg School of Business at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst; and the W. Michael Hoffman Center for Business Ethics at Bentley University.

IBECC challenges students to learn a variety of practical real-world skills: working on a team; analyzing ethical issues; balancing competing demands (financial, legal and ethical); working under different time constraints; and being evaluated by executives, not faculty. The event also educates judges about the most current ethical issues in business, and teams regularly choose topics that don’t appear in the business press until months later. Past “just over the horizon” topics have included: sub-prime lending, General Motors’ risk of bankruptcy, privacy issues related to social networking websites, piracy in international waters, e-waste dumping in developing nations, health risks of a variety of products, and corruption in FIFA.