Prof. Powell's ORF411 Orange Bowl Challenges Students

July 12, 2007

"Each fall, Powell begins the semester by dividing his students into teams of four or five and telling them to professionally manage a mom-and-pop orange-juice business. Each team starts with the same ten years’ worth of historical data about a fictional company, laid out in 600 cells on a set of Excel spreadsheets.Week by week, teams must strategize on how to respond to random events in a computerized competition that simulates real life: orange groves freeze; manufacturing plants fail; stored fruit rots; demand fluctuates. One question is where to procure the oranges. While Florida oranges are by far the cheapest, they constitute the riskiest supply because of vicissitudes of the weather; an ill-timed snowstorm or hurricane can devastate a company.'It’s a big, messy problem,' said Powell. The teams do their best to optimize price to maximize profit while grappling with realworld struggles such as personality conflicts and ethical dilemmas."