In October, fellow senior Jake Wooten and I had the opportunity to travel to the University of Arizona to represent Goizueta in the Eller Ethics Case Competition. This year, the competition hosted 26 Universities from across the country and demanded that we analyze the ethical implications for the various stakeholders and provide strategic recommendations in regards to the release of the Tata Nano into Ultra Low Cost car market.
The Tata Nano is perhaps one of the greatest examples of true corporate social responsibility in action. Tata Motors' CEO Ranan Tata recognized the dire infrastructure and transportation systems currently established in India and wanted to help.
A little background: It is not uncommon for hundreds of millions of Indians in the bottom of the pyramid to pack four into a shaky two-wheeler and drive on India’s unsafe roads. The Nano is a 3.1-meter automobile priced at just $2,500, making it affordable to almost 300 million people who need a safe means of transportation.
In our presentation, Jake and I focused heavily on the positive benefits that both customers and Indian society as a whole would gain as a result of the car. A safe car that is also held to the most stringent of environmental standards in India is positive for both those in and around the car. Additionally, the incredibly high demand has forced Tata to construct new plants, employing thousands of people and benefiting the domiciles in which they are built.
Our recommendations focused on how we could leverage the success of the Nano into helping develop a better road system and forcing India and the world to review its energy policies.
Although we did not win this portion of the contest, we did capture the "Bright Line" essay part. The essay prompt asked that we focus on the ethical issues in a more traditional manner, relying on philosophical thought. Leveraging Jake's strong Philosophy background — he double majors in it — we focused solely on the environmental implications of its release. Citing both William Baxter and John Rawls, Jake and I outlined that Indian citizens have an inherent "right of transportation" and that the rights of Indian citizens today outweigh those of future generations regardless of their impact on the environment. To further support our point, we cited a World Bank study that expressed that Indian society could not continue to expand without naturally harming the environment. The industrialized world, one that was not restricted in its development, has no leg to stand on in criticizing India.
We believed in our convincing argument and it was one that the judges dubbed "the unequivocal best" one presented.
Overall, the chance to represent Goizueta was both exciting and humbling. The experience, weather and our free Friday night to experience the campus were all great and I look forward to see how next year’s team does.
Julian Snow, BBA 10