Students on par with professors

Baylor graduate students compete with professors from top universities in business case research competition

By Jennifer Kang

Baylor graduate students will soon present business cases alongside professionals in the finals of a case research competition that is geared toward professors and researchers.

Two Baylor graduates will present the business-teaching cases created by their respective groups at the North American Case Research Association Annual Conference on Oct. 13 – 15 in San Antonio.

NACRA is a nonprofit association which, according to their website, focuses on promoting excellence in case research, writing and teaching in business and other administrative disciplines.

Dr. Marlene Reed, entrepreneur in residence in the department of management and entrepreneurship, said the cases submitted by the Baylor graduates were reviewed blindly along with cases from international professors and other professors from schools like Harvard University, Babson College and the University of Virginia.

“I submitted two of the cases from my students in the B.E.S.T. class,” Reed said. “None of the reviewers knew they were students. They thought they were professors.”

B.E.S.T. stands for the Business Excellence Scholarship Team class, which consists of about 28 students who attend class for a whole year, first as a business elective in the fall semester and then as a capstone course for the spring semester.

“Usually 70 to 80 business students apply and are recommended by business professors,” Reed said.

“They go through a review process and are selected based upon their grade point average, activities on campus and leadership ability,” said Reed.

May 2011 graduate Taylor Laymance, who worked on one of the two Baylor cases, said the students were split into two groups for the semester. They were asked to find a company whose management they could work with and come up with a teachable case about that company for a classroom setting.

“We were encouraged to find something where we would have access to management in order to have conversations with them and get a better understanding for the business model,” Laymance said. “Dr. Reed said this would be very beneficial to the process.”

Laymance worked in a group with three other students. Two of them had a personal connection to the same Robinson family that owns the Waco Tribune-Herald.

“So we thought, we have a personal connection, we have access to the people running the paper, and we have a good back story on it,” Laymance said.

“We thought it would be an interesting teaching point on how they go about navigating the company through this changing technological environment , and it was relevant to people our age.”

Reed said the cases were chosen by several criteria: how well they were written, the quality of the problem to be solved, the presence or absence of a focus person to make decisions, and basis on a business theory.

The NACRA’s website said cases on all types of organizations— publicly traded, non-profit, charitable or state-controlled— were accepted.

According to the website, the cases entered in the competition should address issues of responsibility, structure, decision-making authority and accountability of the Board of Directors in businesses.

The two graduate-student cases, which will be presented in October, are “Waco Tribune-Herald: Reinventing the ‘Digital Wheel” and “Rock Bottom Boutique: The Evolution of a Start-Up Business.”

The first case was written by graduates Haley Elmers, Kelsey Holmes, Taylor Laymance and Neal Robinson.

The other case was written by Kylie Borgias, Molly Doyle, Will May, Amy Wofford and Stephen Montellano, a graduate school student and lecturer in the Hankamer School of Business.