Ethics Case Competition

Ethical challenge:               

Ensure the viability of a foundation with some questionable financial and operating practices.


Review the financial data and operating practices, which are often presented as questionable morally, of a fictional research foundation with the goal of keeping it viable as the leading organization for research in its field.

The Twist:      

An anonymous letter alleging the executive vice president committed immoral and possibly illegal actions while serving the company.


That was the scenario presented to student teams from ten western universities as part of the fourth annual Daniels Fund Ethics Consortium case competition held in Denver, Colorado early this year. First place this year went to the team from the University of New Mexico’s Anderson School of Business.

The Daniels Fund Ethics Initiative and Consortium  was launched in 2010 to foster a high standard of ethics in students and to strengthen the teaching of principle-based ethics in universities that are part of the consortium—currently eleven universities in Colorado, New Mexico, Utah, and Wyoming.

The annual case competition is just one of the ethics initiatives supported by the Daniels Fund and it is a challenge. Teams of undergraduate students receive, in advance, a business ethics case that requires analysis and a prepared response. During the competition, each team presents its recommendations to a panel of judges who are business professionals from within the four-state area; each team also participates in a question and answer session. Then comes the kicker—a crisis of some kind that puts a twist on the case. The teams have four hours to re-analyze their response and make a second presentation to the judges (Daniels Fund, 2015).

The judges evaluate the presentations against established criteria, to include the principles of integrity, trust, accountability, transparency, fairness, respect, rule of law, and viability, all principles that ethical organizations would want their future staff and leaders to be grounded in.

As William Singleton, Chairman of the Denver Post, told attendees at the awards reception and dinner: “If you’ve got the right ethical base, you’ll probably make the right decisions.”The Daniels Fund Ethics Consortium Case Competition and other initiative like it may well help build the right ethical base in the workforce of the future.

Ethical Advocate provides comprehensive ethics and compliance solutions, including confidential and anonymous hotlines and training on fraud awareness, business ethics, harassment and discrimination, the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, and more.


Daniels Fund. “1st place winners of 2015 Daniels Fund Ethics Case Competition – University of New Mexico’s Anderson School of Business,” Daniels Fund news release, April 27, 2015.

Hendee, Caitlin. “10 Universities Compete in Daniels Fund Ethics Competition; Here’s the Winner,” Denver Business Journal, April 29, 2015.

See also highlights of the competition at