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Ross and SNRE Deans Announce First Sustainability Case Competition Winners

4/26/2013 --

Winning cases teach valuable lessons about global sustainability and social impact.

ANN ARBOR, Mich. — The Erb Institute Sustainability Case Awards recognize and promote the creation of key teaching materials on global sustainability and social impact. Sponsored by the Erb Institute’s Strategic Advisory Council, the objectives are to raise the visibility and increase adoption of sustainable enterprise teaching cases produced at the University of Michigan, and to encourage more U-M individuals to write such cases. Criteria included clarity of teaching objectives, timeliness of topic, quality of writing, strength of storyline, and potential to reach a broad audience (i.e., suitability for inclusion in core courses).

Ross School of Business Dean Alison Davis-Blake and School of Natural Resources and Environment Dean Marie Lynn Miranda announced the winning cases April 15.

First place went to “REI Rentals” by Erb students Mary Fritz and Rich Grousset under the direction of Wally Hopp, associate dean of faculty research at Ross, and Damian Beil, Ross professor of technology and operations. The case emphasizes operations and management principles while asking students to determine whether renting recreational equipment is more sustainable than selling. The authors will share a $1,500 first prize.

Second place, and a $500 prize, went to “Patagonia” (A) and (B), written by graduate students Allyson Johnson, Courtney Lee, Steven Rippberger, and Morgane Treanton under the supervision of Ross professor Andy Hoffman. The study leads students through an analysis of Patagonia's decision to partner with eBay to launch the Common Threads Initiative, which promotes buying and selling secondhand Patagonia merchandise.

Third place, $250 winners were William Davidson Institute Senior Research Fellow and Ross professor Ted London, as well as research associates John L. Parker and Jenn Korona for “Constructing a Base-of-the-Pyramid Business in a Multinational Corporation: CEMEX's Patrimonio Hoy Looks to Grow.” The case explores CEMEX's efforts to meet the consumer needs of low-income families building cement homes.

About the Erb Institute:

The Frederick A. and Barbara M. Erb Institute is a partnership between U-M’s Ross School of Business and the School of Natural Resources and Environment. The Erb Institute is committed to creating a socially and environmentally sustainable society through the power of business. Building on nearly two decades of research, teaching, and direct engagement, the Institute has become one of the world’s leading sources of innovative knowledge on the culture, technologies, operations and governance of business in a changing world.

— Terry Kosdrosky

For more information, contact:
Dominique Abed, (734) 763-8155,