PSU team wins international sustainability competition
Author: Crista Tappan, The School of Business
Posted: November 12, 2019

A Portland State University student and faculty members from The School of Business have won the oikos International Case Writing Competition and a $6,000 prize. Their entry was titled "B-Line Sustainable Urban Delivery: Can Last-Mile Bicycle Delivery Survive The E-Commerce Minefield?"

Oikos is a Swiss-based, student-led nonprofit group that promotes sustainability in economics and management. The competition supports the development and use of cases on sustainability in management, finance and entrepreneurship.

The team consisted of Master of Science in Global Supply Chain Management student Stephen Kaplan and business faculty Mellie Pullman, Jacen Greene and Wanying Shi. They submitted their case study on B-line, a Portland B-Corp created to decrease traffic congestion and vehicular carbon emissions. 

B-Line utilizes cargo tricycles to deliver local food and other products to businesses within the Portland city center, an affordable and sustainable option for the last mile delivery process.

“We chose our case study on B-Line because the emergence of last-mile delivery has become a big trend with Amazon competing against many sectors,” Pullman said. “This has caused a disruption to many business models and at the same time has negative impacts on the environment.”

B-Line offers sustainability-oriented food companies a comprehensive logistics service including warehousing, fulfillment and advertising. The case explored the challenges and opportunities of having a sustainability mission in the last mile delivery space. It also looked at how it can successfully compete against other large-scale last-mile delivery services.

“We felt that it was important for students to understand a business like this not only from an economic perspective but social and environmental as well,” Pullman said.

In 2016, B-Line was a client of B Impact PSU, a student-run consulting program managed by Impact Entrepreneurs, an initiative with a set of curricular and co-curricular offerings in social entrepreneurship. 

Oikos program manager, Dominika Czyż, said that the case competition submission will help equip leaders who face the sustainability challenges of the 21st century.

Their case submission is available to download here