Holy Cross Students Attribute Liberal Arts Education to Their Win at the International Business Ethics Case Competition

Holy Cross students James Barone ’17, Daniel Apadula ’17, James O’Connor ‘18, and Abigeal Lynch ’19 placed first in their division for the 25-minute presentation portion at the 20th International Business Ethics Case Competition (IBECC) held from April 20 to April 22 in Cambridge, Mass. The students, who represent a range of disciplines — accounting, philosophy, political science and history, and biology, respectively — presented on the topic “Hospital Billings: Side Effects Include…”

The IBECC is a business competition where students are asked to view themselves as members of a corporation or consulting company speaking to a business audience. For the competition, students choose a business case that interests them and prepare a presentation to explain the legal, financial and ethical dimensions of a problem within the case they selected.

The structure of the IBECC is comprised of three separate presentations, which are each judged and scored: a full 25-minute presentation on the legal, financial and ethical dimensions of their topics, after which judges give feedback on the students’ performance; a 10-minute presentation, which is given by only two to three members of the team, and further covers the ethical dimensions of their topic; and a 90-second presentation, which is given by one team member on why those ethical problems need to be addressed. Teams are grouped based on whether the involved colleges and universities are at the graduate level or undergraduate level, and are then selected at random by the IBECC panel to compete against each other; in total, more than 28 teams competed in this year’s event.

Before competing at the international competition, Barone, Apadula, O’Connor, and Lynch first had to beat out three other teams from the College, each of which presented to a panel comprised of faculty and ethics professionals, under the oversight of advisor Karen Teitel, associate professor of accounting at the College. The winning team gained valuable feedback from their on-campus presentation, which they used to enhance the presentation they made in the IBECC.

Barone, who had a personal interest in the ethics of hospital billing systems, found the rest of his team during pep band practice. He thought that his roommate, Apadula, and O’Connor and Lynch were the best fits for his team due to their various majors and common interest in the ethics of hospital billing systems. Each team member reviewed and dissected the issues within hospital billing systems and formulated responses to those issues based on their various academic concentrations.

“Everyone took the issue apart,” Barone said. “It was interesting to see how everyone’s expertise came together, how all the pieces came together into one, structured argument.”

Teitel said that ideally a Holy Cross group that participates in the IBECC will be made up of students who are different majors. This unique, liberal arts blend of backgrounds enables students to tackle their topic of choice from various perspectives and to work towards a victory in the competition.

Teitel also said that no matter what the competing students are majoring in, they are able to collaborate and work together to demonstrate the importance of ethics in the business world. “All students from the College should appreciate the importance of ethical decision making in all aspects of their lives, including in business.”

The IBECC is jointly sponsored by the Center for Ethics and Business at Loyola Marymount University; the Opus College of Business of the University of St. Thomas (Minn.); the Center for Business Ethics at Bentley University; and the Ethics & Compliance Initiative (ECI).

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