USC competitions should include global issues
During my time at Marshall School of Business, Iâve found it difficult to convince business students to incorporate social or community benefits as an essential part of their business solutions. Persuading established business leaders might be even harder.
Today, however, many leading global case competitions are marching boldly in that direction. The Hult Global Case Challenge, an annual college and university case competition, provides a good example. Every year, the organization partners with a different, leading, nongovernmental organization and structures the competition around a real global issue.
The organization selected global water shortage for last yearâs event; this yearâs new challenge is global poverty.
The Marshall International Case Competition, which takes place Tuesday, traditionally ask students to solve a single corporationâs strategic challenges and managerial dilemmas. The competition, however, would benefit from further social and environmental consideration.
Similar to the Hult competition, the MICC is a world-class business case competition. This year, 20 out of 30 competing teams come from top-ranked international business schools, located in Egypt, Brazil, Denmark and other countries.
It is easy to accept that the Hult and the MICC serve different purposes. But it is important to note that their goals do not necessarily conflict. In fact, their goals can complement each other, adding to the fast-growing trend of incorporating global issues into sound business strategies.
In an article published in the February issue of the American Sociological Review, University of Michigan sociologists Alwyn Lim and Kiyoteru Tsutsui found that a âsurprisingly large number of corporations commit to accepting social responsibility that often does not generate immediate or tangible benefits.â Corporate behavior isnât always about profits and company publicity.
Furthermore, Accenture, a management consulting services company, recently released a report showing that many multinational corporations are seeking NGO partners who understand how to help make strategies meet investor and societal needs. The study found that more than 766 global business leaders across 25 industries and 100 countries believe their strategies should align with sustainable development outcomes. Additionally, more than 93 percent of CEOs believed sustainability would be important to the future success of their businesses.
Many leading U.S. business schools, such as the UC Berkeley Hass School of Business and the University of Michigan Ross School of Business, are following the trend. These schools already provide courses related to corporate social responsibility and sustainable business strategy building.
To some extent, the USC Marshall School of Business has jumped in. Many business courses related to social issues are already available to students. Last fall, the Society and Business Lab, in conjunction with the Sol Price School of Public Policy, announced a social entrepreneurship minor. The new minor aims to help students across different majors develop viable solutions to serious societal challenges and integrate social concerns into future business plans.
Along with the rising trend of incorporation of social issues into business strategies, Marshallâs new minor underscores the importance of social responsibility in the business world.
It might be unrealistic for Marshall students to give social concern an equal footing to the realities of business survival, but it seems prudent to keep social concern somewhere close to the top of a planning agenda.
I hope that in the future the competition will incorporate social considerations and test studentsâ ability to take on a multi-dimensional perspective.
Emily Wang is a sophomore majoring in business administration. Her column âBusiness Mattersâ runs Tuesdays.