Two professors from Arizona State University, Wendy J. Bailey, Ph.D., and Robert Ewing, Ph.D., CMA, CPA, have won the 2020 Carl Menconi Ethics Case Writing Competition.

The competition, sponsored jointly by the IMA® (Institute of Management Accountants) Committee on Ethics and IMA’s Professor-in-Residence, Raef Lawson, Ph.D., CMA, CSCA, CPA, CAE, works to develop and distribute teaching cases focused on business ethics. Submissions must focus on business ethics, with specific application to management accounting and finance issues, and reference IMA’s Statement of Ethical Professional Practice. The competition is open to academics as well as practitioners, and joint submissions are encouraged. 

Bailey and Ewing’s winning entry, “Southwest Hospice,” describes a difficult situation faced by an accountant working in a small business in the healthcare industry. It details the challenges of Emily Johnson, the new CFO at a regional nonprofit hospice with approximately 200 employees. Emily is asked by her CEO to misrepresent the company’s cash flow position at the next board of directors meeting. The reason for the request: The CEO wants his salary doubled and it’s contingent on the organization’s continued ability to generate healthy cash reserves. While Emily is optimistic about the company’s future, she is uncomfortable about including a grant that was not received in the cash flow projections. It’s clear that Emily believes her job is on the line depending on what she chooses to do. And among the personal factors, she is a mom with five children to support, two with expensive medical conditions, and she can’t afford to be unemployed right now. 

Many elements of the study – Board issues, unethical requests from management, navigating a new role, personal priorities – should resonate with young professionals and senior practitioners alike. The dilemma is summed up aptly: “Emily is not sure what she should tell the board of directors. Should she disclose the cash flow problems knowing Michael [the CEO] might fire her and still get the board of directors to recommend approval of his salary request? Could Emily figure out a way to present the cash flow projection that both highlighted her optimism and support for Southwest Hospice while presenting the board of directors with an accurate cash picture?”

The team’s case study will be featured in an upcoming issue of IMA’s flagship publication, Strategic Finance. Bailey and Ewing will also receive a $500 cash prize and be recognized by IMA.

Next year’s Carl Menconi Ethics Case Writing Competition will open in the fall. Stay tuned for additional information or see full submission details here

For questions or additional information, please contact Lawson at