Case Competitions

The USC Marshall School of Business produces graduates who are well prepared to make significant contributions to the workforce. However, in today’s competitive job market, organizations need new employees with a broader understanding of the industries in which they are entering and who are suitably prepared to face the challenges of the working world. To help meet these criteria, students need to learn skills that are not usually obtained in the traditional classroom environment. Therefore, case competitions, including Marshall’s International Case Competition are a worthwhile way to teach these preparatory skills.

Participation in case competitions allows select Marshall students to apply theories that are learned in the classroom to real world business scenarios. Not only do students work under pressure to simulate many work environments, they also sharpen their presentation skills by presenting their findings to a panel of industry professionals and academics. Participation in these competitions is both an honor and a supreme challenge. These student participants, tomorrow’s business leaders, will be better prepared to meet the challenges of a rapidly changing business environment.

Preparation

Case competition preparation begins with willing Marshall faculty and staff from a number of departments including Finance and Business Economics (FBE), Management and Organization (MOR) and Business Communication (BUCO). Every year, these coaches help prepare a group of students interested in fine tuning their presentation and case analysis skills. Preparation groups meet every Friday afternoon from 2-5pm. During these meetings, groups analyze a case and present it to a panel of faculty and staff advisors. Case topics center on marketing and branding approaches, acquisitions, mergers and international expansion. The cases highlight strategic challenges and managerial dilemmas faced by business leaders and organizations.

Program Structure

Based on the students’ performance, selections are made for each of the competitions that Marshall is invited to. Four students and two alternates are selected as Marshall representatives based on the consistency of their performance in front of the coaching panel and their noticeable improvement during a six week preparation period. A faculty advisor attends the competition with the team. Travel logistics for each selected team member, including flight and hotel reservations, are coordinated through the Marshall Undergraduate Student Services Office.

Team members typically possess a wide range of business disciplines such as finance, marketing, management and communication.  Upon arriving to the selected site for the competition, the teams are presented with a case study to solve using simulated business conditions such as time-critical deadlines and incomplete information. The students formulate workable, action-oriented recommendations. Teams compete for trophies and occasionally financial prizes.  In addition, social and cultural events are scheduled at these competitions which foster networking and interaction between student participants from all over the United States and the world.

In addition to attending competitions outside of the Los Angeles area, four students also represent USC at the Marshall International Case Competition (MICC) which takes place in February.  The MICC welcomes 30 institutions, including USC to compete in the United States’ largest and most prestigious case competition.  USC has hosted the MICC since 1997.