The Aspen Institute Announces Winners for International MBA Case Competition

$32,500 in scholarships awarded for ideas to help solve world’s most pressing issues
Apr 29, 2013 5:35 AM ET
Press Release

New York, NY, April 29, 2013 /3BL Media/ - Students at 25 leading MBA programs worldwide have immersed themselves in solving a real-world business challenge, with five finalist teams earning $32,500 in scholarships during The Aspen Institute’s Business and Society International MBA Case Competition held at BNY Mellon’s New York City offices in April. The annual Competition, now in its fourth year, places emerging leaders from some of the world’s top MBA programs squarely at the intersection of corporate profitability and positive environmental, social and ethical impacts. 

The Institute’s Business & Society International MBA Case Competition encourages next generation business leaders to think innovatively about the role of business in solving our world’s most pressing issues.

During an intense weekend earlier in the spring, competitors tackled a scenario co-authored by the Yale School of Management and the National University of Singapore Business School, which focused on questions of regional economic development and environmental sustainability faced by Golden Agri-Resources, the world’s second largest palm oil plantation company.  These students found many ways to tackle a problem that looked to be threatening to business and society as a whole, generating smart and sustainable solutions that reduce the environmental impact of palm oil farming, increase economic development in the community, produce a better product and have the opportunity to improve the business’ financial and valuation performance. 

Five finalist teams – selected from hundreds of student competitors - competed for their share of $32,500 in scholarships by presenting their recommendations to a panel of corporate, academic and social sector judges earlier this month.  The Aspen Institute’s 2013 Business & Society International MBA Case Competition honorees represent:

·      1st Place: New York University, Leonard N. Stern School of Business

·      2nd Place: Baruch – CUNY, Zicklin School of Business

·      3rd Place: Duquesne University, Donahue Graduate School of Business

·      4th Place: University of Denver, Daniels College of Business

·      5th Place: Villanova University, Villanova School of Business


Honorable mentions were awarded to five additional teams, representing:

·      Business School Lausanne (Switzerland)

·      Fairleigh Dickinson University, Silberman College of Business

·      University of Jyväskylä, School of Business and Economics (Finland)

·      University of Notre Dame, Mendoza College of Business

·      Wilfrid Laurier University, School of Business and Economics (Canada)


“The Golden Agri case is difficult and complex,” said Nancy McGaw, Deputy Director of the Aspen Institute’s Business & Society Program. “To develop credible recommendations for action, teams had to wrestle with challenging global economic, social and environmental issues. As we look to our next generation of business leaders, it is both inspiring and reassuring to see these emerging leaders with the ability and eagerness to take on the kinds of real-world challenges that they will likely face in their professional lives.”

“At BNY Mellon, corporate social responsibility is crucial to how we fulfill our role as a major global financial institution,” said John Buckley, BNY Mellon’s head of social responsibility. “Sustainable businesses study, understand and manage how they impact society as an employer and a community asset. We’re proud to join The Aspen Institute to invest in the next generation of leaders that will be tasked with solving important societal problems for their future employers."

Over the course of three days students analyzed and responded to this year’s case study. On-campus competitions generated first place campus winners, whose work was then reviewed by academic judges to determine the five finalist teams. All finalist teams received prize money, with the first place team receiving $15,000 plus an additional $1,000 to invest in a charity of their choice.

The Aspen Institute Business & Society Program is dedicated to aligning business activities with the long-term health of society.  The group inspires and supports collaborative action among business leaders, corporate intrapreneurs and educators. Its programs provide reflective space to test new theory and practice, to share and acquire new skills, and to build courage to act for the common good – even when pressures dictate otherwise.

The Institute is grateful for the generous support of its corporate partners, including case study co-host BNY Mellon:

·      Bertelsmann, Inc.

·      Changing Our World, Inc.

·      Levi Strauss & Co.

·      Marsh & McLennan Companies

·      Motorola Solutions Foundation

·      The Newell Rubbermaid Foundation

·      S&P Capital IQ

The Aspen Institute is also thankful for the support, time, and enthusiasm of this year’s judges: David Bach, senior associate dean for executive MBA and global programs at the Yale School of Management; Jyoti Chopra, head of global diversity and inclusion at BNY Mellon; Vijay Jagannathan, senior fellow at the World Resources Institute; Jennifer Johnson, research consultant to the Aspen Institute’s Business & Society Program; Susan Raymond, executive vice president for Changing Our World, Inc.; Christine Salerno, head of corporate social responsibility at Marsh & McLennan Companies; Maureen Scully, faculty member and associate dean for graduate studies at the University of Massachusetts Boston’s College of Management; Marc Ventresca, faculty member at the University of Oxford’s Saïd Business School.

In addition to the schools mentioned above, the Aspen Institute is proud to celebrate other partnering schools in the 2013 program:

·      Audencia Nantes, School of Management (France)

·      Case Western Reserve University, The Weatherhead School of Management

·      Claremont Graduate University, Peter F. Drucker & Masatoshi Ito Graduate School of Management

·      Curtin University, Curtin Graduate School of Business (Australia)

·      Griffith University, Griffith Business School (Australia)

·      Instituto de Estudios Superiores de Administración – IESA (Venezuela)

·      Lamar University, College of Business

·      Temple University, Fox School of Business

·      University of Alberta, Alberta School of Business (Canada)

·      University of Iowa, Henry B. Tippie School of Management

·      University of Massachusetts Amherst, Isenberg School of Management

·      University of Wyoming, College of Business

·      Western Michigan University, Haworth College of Business

·      York University, Schulich School of Business (Canada)

Learn more about the 2013 Business & Society International MBA Case Competition by visiting the Competition’s official website:

Click here to view photographs from the 2013 finals.


The Aspen Institute mission is twofold: to foster values-based leadership, encouraging individuals to reflect on the ideals and ideas that define a good society, and to provide a neutral and balanced venue for discussing and acting on critical issues. The Aspen Institute does this primarily in four ways: seminars, young-leader fellowships around the globe, policy programs and public conferences and events. The Institute is based in Washington, DC, Aspen, Colorado, and on the Wye River on Maryland’s Eastern Shore and has an international network of partners.

The work of Aspen’s Business & Society Program aims to increase the supply of business leaders invested in a long-term view of business success and societal well-being.  With this type of leadership in place, we believe business can be a galvanizing force in tackling our most complex challenges – from global poverty to climate change.