Students Take on Business Transparency in Transatlantic Teamwork

The transatlantic teams are presenting their solutions in front of an expert panel including Jermyn Brooks, leader of private sector programs at Transparency International; Robert U. Franz, professor of Enterprise Resource Planning Systems at the Brandenburg University of Applied Sciences; Daniel G. Conway, clinical associate professor of Operations and Decision Technologies at the Kelley School of Business at Indiana University in Bloomington, Indiana; Greg Augenstein, vice president, Professional Services Global Risk and Compliance Unit, SAP; and representatives of the companies Deere & Company, Eli Lilly & Company, Freudenberg and HOCHTIEF. The project is one of many supported by the SAP University Alliances program, an initiative that provides access to SAP software to nearly 700 universities and schools globally. A core part of SAP’s corporate citizenship activities, SAP University Alliances provides university faculty members with the tools and resources necessary to teach students how technology can enable integrated business processes as well as strategic thinking and gives students the skills to add immediate value to the marketplace.

Imaginary scenario in realistic working environment

In the project, five groups of 10 to 11 German and American students each were presented with the following scenario case: Their fictional construction company (“Rodan International”) is a finalist for an 80-million-euro contract to repair a hydroelectric dam in a resource-rich country in the developing world. The students learn that their imaginary company’s head of procurement has been indicted on charges of bypassing the lawful bidding process through bribery. As a result, the fictional company’s financial situation, already somewhat weak, was sharply deteriorating. The students then had to design a business process, using software solutions such as the SAP® Business Workflow tool, which would reduce the risk of and eliminate sources for corruption in the future. The students also faced challenges such as making strategic decisions as to how to re-stabilize the company’s financial situation.
This is the second joint project of the two universities, which in 2005 established “project 3c learning,” an initiative supporting cross-cultural collaboration. The projects were initiated to provide students with institutionalized international learning to complement existing programs that are mainly based on voluntary programs in the course of students’ individual studies. “In the project, we enable our students to work in international project teams where team members are not all in the same locations – where different time zones, time pressure as well as language barriers and different cultural backgrounds create a situation as realistic as possible,” said Daniel G. Conway, clinical associate professor of Operations and Decision Technologies at the Kelley School of Business at Indiana University in Bloomington, Indiana. “Thanks to the alliance between our universities and SAP, our students also experience what it means to work with a software solution that opens up data and information silos and allows integrated, transparent business processes to function throughout the entire company.”

Industry panel discusses student presentations

Each member of the panel has years of experience in areas such as corporate social responsibility, corporate governance, compliance and anti-corruption. They all share a strong commitment to promoting these topics to widespread audiences. “In the project, students could not make an easy black or white decision; They had to work in a situation that only allowed different shades of grey,” said Jermyn Brooks, leader of private sector programs at Transparency International, the worlds’ leading non-governmental organization focusing on bribery and corruption. “One only needs to read the daily papers to see how close to reality this scenario is. It is especially important that future business men and women learn about the devastating effect of bribery and corruption, during their education to enable them to apply their knowledge in real business situations.”

SAP University Alliances program supports knowledge transfer

Annually, more than 130,000 students worldwide benefit from SAP University Alliances. The program’s focus is on working with process-oriented software and thus increasing the understanding of business processes in modern companies. “Bringing real-world business content and context to the classroom helps better prepare students for the challenges and opportunities they will face in their professional lives,” said Amelia Maurizio, executive director, Education Strategy, SAP University Alliances. “By embedding an ethical aspect into the process-focused work, the students understand how self-regulation can reduce risk and offer a competitive business advantage. They also gain valuable insight into how technology enables current and future business leaders to take broader responsibility for the impact of their business on society.

Source: SAP AG