Carlson's Faculty Case Competition

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Students Listening to Speaker at 3M Auditorium

Picture a crowded arena, the buzz of a restless crowd, and the sounds of “We Will Rock You” echoing off the rafters. No, the scene I’m describing is not that of a Minnesota Wild playoff game or a WWE Smackdown event. You couldn’t be blamed, though, for expecting to see a folding chair or two smashed over someone’s head, given the electric atmosphere in Carlson’s 3M Auditorium on this particular afternoon. But you couldn’t even find tickets to this event on Stub Hub if you tried, because the only cost of admission to this showdown was being a full-time Carlson MBA student. And what was the event, you ask? Well, it was the annual Net Impact Faculty Case Competition, of course!

The Faculty Case Competition is one of the most anticipated events of the year for Carlson students. We get to see two teams of brilliant Carlson faculty debate a tricky business issue, poke fun at each other, and occasionally, don hilarious costumes. But more importantly, it offers the opportunity for us, as students, to turn the tables on our professors and put them on the spot for once! 

Photoshopped Image of Case Competitors' Faces on Muscular Bodies

"Marketing" the case competition.

This year, the competition featured two of our core curriculum professors, Helen Moser and Carlos Torelli, facing off against two Carlson deans and former professors, Phil Miller and George John. The sponsoring student club, Net Impact, is an organization focused on creating positive social and environmental change through business. Being a Net Impact event, the topic of the case competition typically deals with social or environmental impact issues, and this year the guiding question was, “Should Walmart pay its employees a living wage?” 

With one team arguing for a living wage, and one team arguing against, we got to hear some very eloquent and entertaining arguments about whether or not Walmart should pay a living wage to its employees. Some of the highlights of the debate included quotes from Nobel laureate economists, references to The Simpsons, and cheap shots about one competitor’s infamous yellow corduroy pants.

Overall, it was a great event that provided a lot of laughs, impressive rhetoric and showmanship from our competitors and, at least for me, a much stronger understanding of the issues involved in the living wage debate in our country. And personally, as a 2nd year MBA and the outgoing Net Impact president, it was rewarding to see another Carlson tradition successfully carried on and so well received by my fellow students.

Students Seated in 3M Auditorium for Case
Faculty Holding Trophy