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Muma College of Business Undergraduates' Case Review May Help Boy Scouts Turn its Membership Erosion

By Keith Morelli

Undergraduate Case Review Participants

TAMPA (October 10, 2017) -- A list of recommendations aiming to bump membership in the Boy Scouts of America – formulated by a team of Muma College of Business undergraduates – is headed for the organization's international leadership council.

The review was part of a case competition in which three teams competed to come up with solutions to make the Boy Scouts of America more appealing to youngsters, said Mike Bowen, strategic management instructor in the Muma College of Business Marketing Department.

The team of undergraduate senior business students – Jacob Driscoll, Maximilian Frei, Karina Podymova and Victoria Quigley-Ziede – took home the top honors in the 2017 Muma College of Business Undergraduate Business Case Competition held during the last weekend in September.

The case was revealed to the teams at 6:30 a.m. the Friday of the competition. They then were bussed to the Scouts' Tampa headquarters where they met with scouting executives and leaders who asked the students to perform a thorough analysis of the national organization, its website, and its social media sites and policies. The students' job: make recommendations designed to reverse the 40-year decline in scouting participation.

Students had 24 hours to examine and analyze the documents and prepare PowerPoint presentations along with a 30-second video pitch, which could serve as an aid in the council's efforts to draw more youth into the organization.

"After the case reveal, the students went to work, using their creative juices over the next 24 hours to gather relevant data and develop their analyses and presentations for the next morning," Bowen said. "I think some of the students had one or two hours sleep."

Given the scope and gravity of the case questions, the project provided a substantial and meaningful challenge for the competitors, he said. Presentations to the judges began at 9:30 a.m. on Saturday.

Judges for the competition included Boy Scout leaders, USF alumni and former case-competition participants, along with local business executives.

Business management instructor K. Doreen MacAulay helped coordinate the competition.

"The major winning recommendation suggested an increase in dues that was well justified through financial analysis," she said. "It is something the leaders have been wanting to do but were not able to make a justifiable case. They now have the material needed to make the case.

"Another recommendation," she said, "was reorganizing the organization's human resources department, focusing on increasing the salaries and reducing workload to improve retention of quality employees."

Recommendations about image-tweaking improvements to the website and social media sites to appeal more to potential members were well received.

Bowen said that the Boy Scout leaders were so impressed with the students' recommendations that those recommendations – and copies of the presentations and videos – were to be presented to the Boy Scouts of America international leadership council.

"We were told that the recommendations from all of the teams were important and will be seriously discussed and considered for implementation at the national/international level," he said. "We are extremely proud of the students who participated in this competition. All of the students and teams were outstanding and represented themselves and the college extremely well in a very closely contested competition."

George M. McGovern, deputy regional director of the Boy Scouts of America's Southern Division, said he was excited about working with the business students.

"When I heard about the recommendations and saw the presentations by each team, you could see the effort and thought that the students put into how to help the Boy Scouts grow our membership," he said. "I felt the website and social media aspects were very beneficial especially making some parts more youth friendly.

"They had very good recommendations on possible partnerships with companies with shared values," he said. "I also thought the winning team had great insight on how, we as an organization, could build capacity to bring more youth into our program through out-of-the-box methods that we are not using."

Each of the students received advanced undergraduate research credit for their work in the competition.

"I wasn't really sure what to expect from the challenge," said Quigley-Ziede, a finance/English major who was on the winning team. "I had never heard of a case competition before. When I went through the workshops, I was thinking, how in the world would we be able to solve a major problem, prepare a 20-minute presentation, all in 24 hours? It seemed a daunting task."

She said she found the challenge both exhilarating and frustrating.

"Being able to participate in this case competition for the Boy Scouts of America was an honor," she said. "When we first sat down to get our ideas together, everyone had different ways to approach it. It was hard to decide what to do, but we could all agree that something drastic had to be done about the structure of the Boy Scouts in order for them to survive in the long run.

"Sometimes, when we got too deep into an idea, we'd have to remind ourselves to step back and think about what it was that the Boy Scouts were asking of us," she said. "We also had to think about what facets of the Boy Scouts' culture were flexible and what absolutely could not change."

She and her team knew a main challenge was to make a 107-year-old nonprofit – founded on the principles of patriotism and nature – appeal to an ever-fragmented generation.

"It's a pretty existential question and as a finance/English student," she said, "it posed a very exciting challenge.

"Winning the competition was surprising at first," she said. "I felt a sense of pride for winning, but more importantly, I was proud that our ideas contributed to helping the Boy Scouts as an organization. I am humbled by the experience and it truly changed me. It helped me grow as a student but also as a person."