Volume 18, 2021
Prescott C. Ensign
Ethical Dilemmas in Hawaii’s First Public-Private Venture Capital Fund
Are there any business decisions that do not have an ethical dimension? Who decides that a decision is unethical? What impact does ethics have in today’s business environment? The case focuses on the development of Hawaii’s first public-private venture capital fund by three very different entities: the State of Hawaii economic development corporation; a US mainland-based private equity investment firm; and a partnership of two serial entrepreneurs. The case uses a progressive disclosure format so students only read and analyze the actions and ethical issues that occur at a specific point in time: creation of the venture capital fund; selection of startups to be included in the fund’s investment portfolio; and public reaction to decisions and actions by the fund. The case frames the issues confronted at each point as ethical dilemmas. Analysis includes answering questions and formulating recommendations or solutions to each dilemma.