Microsoft Firenze case competition

Microsoft conducts a competition every year called the Microsoft Firenze case competition. And the fun begins when the teams are formed. This year, the rules state that each team needs to have at least one person each from a design school, an engineering school and B-school on the team.

Being that case competitions are usually popular amongst B-school students, it wasn’t surprising that we outnumbered the students from the other schools during the networking event that was set up to help form the teams. And the fights which ensued to ‘grab’ the design students was reminiscent of the spice markets of the 16th century – true markets at work. If there was a real life example of what we’ve learned in economics over the past 2 months, this was it.

Initially, some of the design students were picked up by a few teams. As time progressed, and the number of design students fell – there was a perceptible shift in the attitude of the design students! They became more bossy and started demanding, nay, interviewing the B-schools students before they chose the best team. The business students put in their sales pitches through ‘elevator speeches’ and what not, just to impress the ones in demand!

What was supposed to be a friendly networking event now became a hotly contested one.

So… welcome to the market economy! What’s in lesser supply and high demand will always quote a high price!

Be it beluga caviar, truffles.. or students from the design school!

Good luck to all the participating teams, may the best one win!



2 thoughts on “Microsoft Firenze case competition”

  1. Price is just an economists/Biz person’s oversimplification of a human interaction model. More realistically wouldnt you think that the designers would want to work for someone who are more fun, insightful with a higher potential to success than just price?
    And if it was price – doesnt “bribing” with pizzas, tickets to games/theatres and other means count? the early spice markets ran on barter system – and its not always a discrete commodity that helps in a transaction – it could be fluid negotiations 🙂

    Ahhh yes the fun starts at the team recruiting all right!

  2. Pradeep,
    I totally agree with your idea of the designers too wanting to team up with the best partners so as to win the competition. However, what I wanted to stress on was the shift in behavior from the beginning of the event towards the end, when the number of designers dwindled.
    And by price, I didn’t really mean ‘currency’ – but that the designers became more demanding/ choosy about whom they wanted on their future teams!
    But yes, the fun starts at the team recruitment stage!

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