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Press release: Ethical Leadership Case Competition based on Apple/FBI scuffle

Thursday, April 7 2016 12:00am

Imagine being asked to unlock your phone, switch devices with the person next to you, and then dig through every email, text, and photo on their phone.

“That moment of vulnerability [when someone else has access to your phone] is what The Newton Company is protecting,” said a student group at the Ethical Leadership and Society of Human Resource Management (SHRM) Case Competition. The competition recently took place on Ohio University’s campus, and case in question--designed and developed internally by Bonnie Roach, professor of management--was based on the controversy between Apple and the FBI following the San Bernardino shootings on Wed., Dec. 2, 2015.

“I wanted to make sure the case we chose was difficult, relevant, and thought-provoking. I am not certain how I feel about this issue, which is what I liked about the case - I would be more open to persuasion during the student presentations,” said Robert Föehl, vice president and general counsel for ACA International, OHIO College of Business alumni, and both a judge and sponsor of the competition, along with SHRM. 

Student teams received background information about the Apple-inspired scenario prior to the event. Charged with advising The Newton Company’s Board of Directors, they made recommendations based on the interests and needs of various stakeholders, the pros and cons of each course of action, and potential negative repercussions of their proposals.

“Overall, I found it to be a great day of business ethics and networking. The case was relevant to everything going on with Apple, and was both challenging and interesting because no correct answer had been determined. It was exciting to be able to watch the other group's similarities throughout the day, but also their different routes to achieving solutions,” said Sheri Sheffel, ‘ 17. 

Students, faculty, and Föehl were pleased with how the competition turned out. “We wanted to make sure our conversation surrounding leaders and ethics is one and the same; that’s why we created this event with Rob [Föehl]’s sponsorship,” said Tim Reynolds, executive director, Robert D. Walter Center for Strategic Leadership and executive-in-residence. “We are grateful for his support and very pleased with the success of the event.”

About the Robert D. Walter Center for Strategic Leadership

The Robert D. Walter Center for Strategic Leadership at Ohio University’s College of Business prepares students to become the leaders of tomorrow. It develops leaders who earn leadership by creating value, inspiring others to follow, and doing business with integrity. Learn more about the Walter Center for Strategic Leadership online. 

About the Robert L. Föehl Organizational Ethics Fund

Established in 2014 by College of Business alumnus Robert Föehland his wife Jennifer, The Robert L. Föehl Organizational Ethics Fund is dedicated to bringing high-quality, ethics-based programming to College of Business students at Ohio University. The fund supports the efforts of the College of Business to develop leaders who conduct business with integrity.


Brianna Wilson, marketing communications specialist, Ohio University’s College of Business at or 740-593-9372.