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Making a Case for The Penguin

Amanda Cash, Christian Melvin, Miranda Reynolds with Professor Cathy Anderson

By Jennifer Johnson

A great professor and fried pickles is what led three McColl School of Business students to win an international case competition. For the second consecutive year, Queens MBA students placed first in the Baylor Entrepreneurship Student Case Writing Competition. The event was co-hosted by the United States Association for Small Business and Entrepreneurship, the largest independent, professional, academic organization in the world dedicated to advancing entrepreneurship.

Amanda Cash, Christian Melvin and Miranda Reynolds wrote a business case about a landmark Charlotte restaurant, The Penguin, famous for its shamefully delicious fried pickles. The winners credit Professor Cathy Anderson for introducing the case in a law and ethics class. "She guided our case team to deliver a final case that would be stimulating and academically relevant for students today," says Reynolds. Melvin adds, "We were interested in the case because it is real life-just average people starting up a restaurant."

Melvin, a communication professional, says their goal was to write a case students would enjoy reading. That paid off. Dean A. Koutroumanis, assistant professor of management at the University of Tampa's John H. Sykes College of Business and judge of the competition says, "The case was written in a way that really drew you in, which impressed all of the judges." Submissions had to address key business issues like new ventures, international entrepreneurship and small business management. The Penguin case focuses on the legal implications of going into business, particularly intellectual property rights. "This was a very interesting component for me personally," says Cash. "I have worked in intellectual property for 10 years, and I have noticed it's somewhat overlooked for its value as a business asset." 

More than 25 cases were submitted from schools around the world. The winners were honored during the United States Association of Small Business Education Conference in New Orleans in January. The first place award carried a $2,000 cash prize.

Koutroumanis gives the McColl students the ultimate compliment. "I actually asked and received permission from the authors to use this case in my Introduction to Entrepreneurship class this semester," he says. Business school students will be learning about intellectual property and fried pickles for years to come.

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