DeSales MBA News

Merging of Corporate Cultures Topic at 2016 Ethics Bowl Competition

by Tom McNamara | Mar 24, 2016


When a company is acquired or two corporations merge, the policies and cultures of the two organizations may clash, particularly with social issues.

The acquisition of a company in a state with legalized marijuana use, either for medical or recreational use, can present challenges to an acquiring company from a state with stricter drug laws.

How this situation is handled is the subject of The Fleming Institute for Business Ethics competition at DeSales University to be held on Wednesday, March 30, in the DeSales University Center. The competition will begin at 8:30 a.m. and will conclude by announcing the winners at 4:00 p.m. The event is free and open to the public.

Seven colleges and universities in the Lehigh Valley will participate in this student competition that presents a business-related ethical dilemma and requires students to respond with a detailed and justifiable action plan.

This year students must assume the role of a vice president of human resources of a fictitious satellite and entertainment company about to acquire a technology start up located in a state that has legalized marijuana use. The acquiring company has a strict no-tolerance policy against drug use. New human resources policies must be created to balance this dichotomy.

Nine student teams will participate from Cedar Crest College, DeSales University, East Stroudsburg University, Marywood University, Muhlenberg College, Northampton County Community College, and the Penn State Lehigh Valley Campus.

The 2016 event judging committee includes:  

  • Dennis Abruzzi, senior vice president, Safety & Enterprise Solutions, Penske Logistics;
  • Jason Barnes, CPA, MBA, MST, Partner, Baker Tilly Virchow Krause, LLP; 
  • Jim Devine, director, HR Compliance & Chief Ethics Compliance Officer at Olympus Corporation of the Americas;
  • Diane DiDonatoa banking professional;
  • Ramona Hollie-Major, EdD, MBADirector of Operations, National Institute for School Leadership; 
  • Richard Jennings, Financial Advisor, Vice President-Investments, Wells Fargo Advisors, LLC; 
  • Paul Leese, MBA, Marketing & Media Services Director, Keenan-Nagle Advertising Inc.; 
  • Patrick Lincoln, General Manager, Connoisseur Media North; 
  • Thomas Marnell, Senior Vice President Human Resources at Buzzi Unicem USA Inc.; 
  • Rev. Dr. Sherrie Sneed, Chaplain and Director of Pastoral Care, Pocono Medical Center; 
  • Kristin Sommer, Senior Digital Forensics Investigator, T-Mobile and President, Lehigh Valley Chapter of the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners;
  • Janet Whitehead, CEBS, PHR, Senior Vice President, Assistant Director of Human Resources, Univest Corporation.

Richard Fleming and his family foundation established The Fleming Institute for Business Ethics in 2009 with a goal to promote a culture of ethical awareness and action in business professions through the collaborative efforts of corporate and educational groups. Fleming passed away on December 24, 2015, and will be remembered at the competition.

The work of the institute is administered by the DeSales University Division of Business, in collaboration with the Salesian Center for Faith & Culture. Ultimately, the goal is to engage students and to enable them to become ethically and socially responsible business contributors through intellectual and professional development.

For more information, please contact Dr. Jeffrey Focht, assistant professor of business and chair of the planning team for the 2016 Ethics Bowl, at or click

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