UW News

April 3, 2006

Real-world business case challenges undergrads from around the globe

All the research and learning business students receive from classroom discussions and textbooks may be helpful for standardized tests, but this week, a complex, current global economic issue presented in the form of a case study will require much more of students participating in the University of Washington Business School’s Global Business Case Competition.

This eighth annual competition, hosted by the UW Business School’s Global Business Center, is, organizers say, anything but textbook material.

“Our hope is that by giving students opportunities to apply the business theory they learn in the classroom to current messy, complicated problems, we help prepare them to successfully address the challenges they will face when they finally do enter the ‘real’ world,” said Kathy Dewenter, UW associate professor of finance and faculty director of the Global Business Center.

Members of the 16 participating teams hail from Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, Colombia, Croatia, Denmark, Israel, Japan, New Zealand, Singapore, Spain, Taiwan, Uganda and three American universities, including the UW. During the week they will participate in a student exchange at Hamilton Middle School and a roundtable discussion at McCaw Hall.

On Thursday, the four-person teams of undergraduates will be given the case study written by two UW professors specifically for this competition. They will then have 48 hours to prepare a professional presentation that provides solutions to the problem presented in the case. The case may touch upon any aspect of business, from accounting to business ethics to marketing. Business leaders from academia and industry will judge the presentations. Winners of four preliminary rounds will advance to a final round of competition at 1:30 p.m. Saturday in Mary Gates Hall on the UW campus. The final round is open to the public. The winning team will be announced at an awards banquet that evening.

Pete Dukes, associate dean for undergraduate programs at the UW Business School said the experience student participants have is long-lasting and transformative.

“I marvel at the impact the simple act of participating has on students,” Dukes said. “Inevitably they come away with an understanding and appreciation for the rich cultural diversity that exists in the world, they establish friendships with others from these many cultures, and of course, the have the growth experience of wrestling with a complex case for 48 hours in a team setting and presenting their recommendations to a tough set of business professionals.”

The Global Business Case Competition is produced and supported by the school’s Global Business Center and students in the nationally ranked Certificate of International Studies in Business program. Teams will be judged on quality, creativity and professionalism in presenting their analysis of the business problem.

Last year’s winning team from the University of Auckland provided recommendations for how the Weyerhaeuser Company could expand operations in the Southern hemisphere. Since its inception seven years ago, 73 business schools from 41 countries and 16 states have participated. Past winners were teams from Brazil, Germany, New Zealand, Singapore, South Korea and the United States.

Sponsors include Boeing, Captaris, Costco, Expeditors International, F5 Networks, Fluke, Holland America Line, Microsoft, Starbucks, T-Mobile, Washington First International Bank, Wells Fargo and Weyerhaeuser.


For more information contact Dukes at (206) 543-7141 or rdukes@u.washington.edu or Andrea Gomes, assistant director, Global Business Center at (206) 616-9565 or agomes@u.washington.edu. The Global Business Case Competition 2006 Web address is http://bschool.washington.edu/gbc/index.shtml

Global Business Case Competition 2006 Participants:


American University of Bulgaria, Bulgaria

Ekonomski fakultet Zagreb, School of Business and Economics, Croatia

Aarhus School of Business, Denmark

University of Navarra, Facultad de Ciencias Economicas y Empresariales, Spain

Africa & the Middle East

Tel Aviv University, Israel

Makerere University Business School, Uganda


Kobe University, Japan

University of Auckland, New Zealand

Nanyang Technological University, Singapore

National Chengchi University, Taiwan

North & South America

Universidade de Sao Paulo, Brazil

McGill University, Canada

Universidad de los Andes, Colombia

University of Arizona

Southern University and A&M College

University of Washington