As a student of Master of Business Administration (MBA) you are required
to undertake a major individual piece of research work - the Project or
Dissertation. In contrast to the other elements of your programme, where you
are guided fairly closely, the aim of the Project is to give you the
opportunity to learn independently and show that you can identify, define and
analyse problems and issues and integrate knowledge in a business context. It
is an important part of the programme that tests your ability to understand and
apply the theory, the concepts and the tools of analysis to a specific problem
situation. This project handbook has been compiled to clarify the framework of
the project and suggest some ways of assuring success.
The only precise
rule on what constitutes an acceptable project is that it should be an ordered
critical exposition, which affords evidence of reasoning power and knowledge of
the relevant literature in an approved field falling within the subject
matter of the programme - Management. The emphasis should be on applied
research and the investigation of some practical problem or issue related to
the situation in which an organisation or system operates.
Please note that
the project must not be treated as just another assignment. The Project provides the opportunity to judge
the student’s time and self-management skills and his/her ability to
successfully undertake a long and in-depth study. Hence it is not only the product that is
important, but also the process itself.
Students must therefore ensure that they maintain regular contact
with their supervisor and also that they provide the supervisor with drafts
of their work at regular intervals. Finally, to keep yourself up-to-date and
under control as regards your project, it is imperative that you meet your
DEFINITIONS AND OVERVIEW OF PROJECT
The project is a
practical, in-depth study of a problem, issue, opportunity, technique or
procedure – or some combination of these aspects of business. Typically, you
will be required to define an area of investigation, carve out research design,
assemble relevant data, analyse the data, draw conclusions and make
recommendations. Your project should demonstrate organisational, analytical and
evaluative skills, and, where appropriate, an ability to design a suitable
implementation and review procedure.
The project is the longest (24,000 words) and most original
piece of work you will undertake in your post-graduate study. It will occupy,
with varying degrees of commitment, a period of two semesters.
GUIDELINES AND REQUIREMENTS FOR THE PROJECT
The purpose of
the project is to give students the opportunity to carry out an in-depth study
of an applied nature, synthesizing various elements, yet pursing one area of
interest in depth. Your project report should make clear what you have
attempted and why you have attempted it; the methods that you have used to
collect, collate and analyze the information obtained; and how you have
evaluated it. Any recommendations made should be supported by the evidence
presented and by logical argument using deductive and inductive reasoning. For
a Project to be of a high quality it is imperative to avoid detailed
description devoid of analytical content. The assessment criteria for the
Project are shown in the Project Grading Sheet attached as Appendix B
to this Handbook. You should ensure through the entire period that you work on
your project that it meets these requirements.
topic is probably the hardest thing you will do. The choice of topic is up
to you, with guidance from your supervisor, but, he/ she is not there to make
the decision for you. To a large extent, your ideas will be influenced by
your situation. If you are in employment
you may be able to research into a real life problem or, if you are not employed,
you may choose a more general business issue. In either case, initial ideas are
likely to originate in a vague form and may lack a clear focus. These then need
to be developed into something manageable and practical by consideration of
available literature/ texts and discussion with your project supervisors once
Project ideas come from:
- Personal experience of employment: this is an obvious starting point for the project because in
every organisation there would be some issue that can be researched into.
An example of a project originating from this way could be an evaluation
of the Training Department of your organisation or an evaluation of the
performance appraisal systems used for salesmen in your organisation.
- Observation of events: Personal observation of events in the organisation/
environment can serve as a starting point for a project idea. An example
of this could be that as an employee you observe that the employee
turnover in your organisation is very high and as your project you could
research into the reasons for this and make suitable recommendations.
- Issues of current interest: Reviewing key issues of broader relevance may be another
useful indicator for a project idea. Specific consideration of the aspects
of the effect of a government policy or a phenomenon on the performance of
an organisation/segment/system may provide suitable ideas for a Project.
You need to take care when dealing with issues such as these. It may be
necessary to confine yourself to an aspect of the issue or you could find
yourself tackling something that is too big to handle effectively and
gives you a very wide project area, which inevitably lacks depth of
source of your project idea, familiarity with the area is imperative for the
successful completion of the project.
An acceptable project will normally fall into one of the following
- Exploratory- a study that involves carrying out original research in order
to meet the organization’s continual need for new information for forward
decision-making. The main issues may be human, economical, functional etc,
but the construction and/or application of some kind of research
instrument are the focus of the study. The analysis of the research findings
(e.g. client’s responses to questionnaire about changing product
specifications) should take place, resulting in proposals about how to
manage relevant aspects of the organisation’s future.
- Explanatory- a study, which would involve studying relationships between
different variables like a cause & effect relationship study.
- Descriptive- a study that would need an in-depth portrayal of an accurate
profile of events or situations from the business environment.
ORGANISATION OF PROJECT REPORT
This section presents some of the norms associated with a project.
It is strongly recommended that you follow these guidelines. The final
report should be presented in the following sequence:
v Title page
v Student’s Declaration
v Supervisor’s Certificate (Annexure-II)
v Table of Contents:
List of Tables
List of figures
v Chapter 1. Introduction: This chapter includes the research problem,
need for study/significance of the project, objectives, hypotheses, methodology
– scope, sample design, sources of information, tools and techniques of
analysis, structure of the study with sound justifications/explanations.
v Chapter 2. Literature Review: This chapter should reflect the student’s
understanding of the relevant theoretical and empirical background of the
problem. Focus should be more on the
logical presentation of the empirical evolution of conceptual and
methodological issues pertaining to research problem. Also highlight the methodological clues drawn
through this review for your project.
v Chapter 3. The company/Organisation/System: This
chapter should contain a brief historical retrospect about the entity of your
Chapter 4 &
Present your data analysis and inferences
Chapter 6. Summary and Conclusions:
Gives an overview of the project, conclusions, implications and
recommendations. Also specify the
limitations of your study. You may
indicate the scope for further research.
Bibliography: List the
books, articles, websites that are referred and useful for research on the
topic of your specific project. Follow
Harvard style of referencing.
should be appropriately numbered. It is usual for Page 1 to start with the
Introduction. The sections prior to the Introduction are usually numbered with
small Romans, i.e. i, ii, iii. It is easier if appendices are numbered in a
separate sequence (suggest A, B, C) rather than as a continuation of the main
While presentation follows this sequence, it may be actually written
in a very different order. For example, the introduction is often the last
major section to be completed.
6.1. Title Page
Keep it very simple. Do not describe the contents. Have a working title and then decide a final
title when you have finished the Project. This is the standard format of the
Title Page that every student is expected to use.
This is a
summary of about 300 words (not more than one side
of double-spaced A4) that describes the topic; explains the aims and
methods of the study and gives a brief resume of the main conclusions and
Here you have
the opportunity to thank the various people who have helped in the development
of the project. It might include specific individuals who have given
information, offered insights, or generally been supportive. Gratitude may be
expressed to groups of people, like those who were studied, or fellow students.
Try not to be too flippant or too “soppy”!
page gives the reader the first view of how the project is structured and how
the author attempted to develop the topic. It lists sequentially the sections
and major sub-divisions of the sections; each identified by a heading and
located by a page number. The following box gives an example.
List of Tables i
2. REVIEW OF LITERATURE 16
ANALYSIS & PRESENTATION 40
4.2 Interpretations 45
5. SUMMARY & CONCLUSIONS 50
6. BIBLIOGRAPHY 60
7. APPENDICES 65
Appendix A – Organisational structure of Bloggs Ltd 66
Appendix B- 67
Your precise structure will have to be tailored to the needs of your
own projects. If in doubt, discuss with your project supervisor at an early
6.5. List of Tables
project, it is likely that you will want to present material in tabulated or
diagrammatic form. Some such presentations will bear only indirectly or
partially on your arguments, and in such cases you will need to decide about their
proper location. Additional or less relevant information may be better placed
in an appendix.
Whether you decide to locate your tables/figures in the main body of
the report or the appendices, it is conventional to provide special “contents
pages” so that readers can easily find the information. Tables and figures
should be listed on a separate page as shown below.
Examples of List of Tables
I Redundancies in the Food
Industry, by age, 1980-1987 3
II Employee’s Attitudes to
III Employee’s Attitudes to
Examples of List of Figures
I Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs 5
II Vroom’s Expectancy Theory 10
is crucial, since it sets the tone and context for the rest of the project. In
the introduction, it is important to outline the reasons behind the study –
your motives or rationale for conducting the study. You must give a broad
introduction to the topic under review and types of issues it raises.
Central to this part of the project is the setting of clear
objectives, which you intend to achieve by the end of the study. Your statement
of objectives should be concise and precise, and should be carefully considered
in the light of your original aims and what you have been able to achieve in
should include a summary of how you are going to treat the chosen topic,
running briefly through the sections to show how the structure of the project
allows you to explore the topic in your selected way.
6.7. The Main Body
of the Project
The structuring of the project will reflect your preferences, so
there is no one best way to do it. However, there are predictable issues that
need covering and your structure should permit you to deal with them in an
orderly fashion. For example, a project will include a literature review; most
will involve the reporting of primary research; all will need to draw
conclusions and consider recommendations. Additionally, all projects will
include a section outlining, and justifying, the methodology you have adopted
and should link research methods to the objectives and literature review.
The main body of the project must take the reader logically through
a variety of linked arguments, relating theory and practice, concepts and
concrete observations, so that the reader can understand and identify with the
conclusions and recommendations of the author.
Your arguments need to be drawn demonstrably from your own observations
and grounded in an authoritative set of ideas.
They should not be anecdotal.
Although the arguments should be presented in a tight structured form –
using headings at regular intervals to achieve this – they should also have an
essential discursive character, i.e. you should fully explore the
implications and ramifications of the topic by developing the arguments in a
ensure that you have covered all the major issues pertinent to the topic by the
end of the main body of the project.
Depending on the
nature of your project, it might be appropriate to include a summary of your
findings before embarking on your conclusions.
6.8 Summary and Conclusion
Conclusion should include a summary of your main arguments, drawing together the
various themes and issues so that they can be brought to bear on the defined
objectives of the study. As with all reports, there should be no new
information introduced in this section.
Your Recommendations should be feasible, practical and must place your
conclusions within a concrete and practical framework. You need to consider
your recommendations in the context of their possible human, financial,
political, managerial, etc, implications. Your recommendations should be
You should locate in the
appendices all that information which gives an additional, quasi-relevant
support to the arguments you are constructing. It is important that you put all
the information you require the reader to attend to, in the main body of the text.
Appendices should be consistently signified by letter (APPENDIX A, APPENDIX B)
or by number (Roman) and give titles that indicate their contents. Do remember
to source information in appendices appropriately.
6.10 Bibliography and Referencing
is necessary to avoid plagiarism, to verify quotations and to enable readers to
follow-up and read more fully the cited author’s arguments. Reference is given
within the text of the project as well as at the end of the project. The basic
difference between citation and a reference list (bibliography) is that the
latter contains full details of all the in-text citations.
provides brief details of the author and date of publication for
referencing the work in the body of the text.
- Reference List is
given at the end of the text and is a list of all references used with
additional details provided to help identify each source.
should be made to sources of material throughout the report. Various conventions are used for
referencing but you must use Harvard Referencing, as shown in Appendix
A, throughout your report.
Proper referencing is a crucial aspect
of your project. You are therefore strongly advised to talk to your supervisor
about this, in order to make sure that your project report follows the
appropriate referencing system.
7. TECHNICAL SPECIFICATIONS OF THE PROJECT
v The project should be
typed on A4 white paper, and be double-line spaced.
v The left margin should
not be less than 40 mm and the right margin not less than 20 mm.
All pages should be numbered, and numbers
should be placed at the centre of the bottom of the page, not less than 10 mm
above the edge.
v All tables, figures
and appendices should
be consecutively numbered or lettered, and suitably labelled.
v 3 bound copies & a soft-copy should be
handed in to the Principal/Director of your College/Institute at the
time of submission.
NOTE: College in turn would submit Two bound copies of all the projects to the Controller of
Examinations along with a consolidated CD containing the soft copy of the
projects and the list of project titles sorted on the HT Numbers with linkages
to the respective project file. The columns in the list should include HTNO.,
Name of the Student, Major Elective and the Project Title. College name and the year should be mentioned
on the CD.
Any attempt to copy from another
(present or previous) student or to copy large chunks from academic or other
sources without appropriately referencing those sources will trigger the full
weight of plagiarism procedures. If there is any doubt concerning the
authenticity of your work, the university reserves the right to demand an
individual presentation before a panel at which you will be required to reply
to spontaneous questions.
material that relates to your project, including completed questionnaires or
tapes from interviews, should be shown to your supervisor and be kept until the
examination board has confirmed your results. Do not throw this material away
once your project is submitted, as you might be asked to present it as part of
the viva voce, before your project results are confirmed.
YOU AND YOUR SUPERVISOR
The supervisor's role is
one of guidance - providing advice and pointing out possible problems that may
arise. The supervisor's role is to appraise your ideas and work. You must take overall responsibility for
both the content of your project and its management. This includes selection
of an appropriate subject area (with the approval of the supervisor),
setting up meetings with the supervisor, devising and keeping to a work
schedule (to include contingency planning), and providing the supervisor with
samples of your work.
It is your
responsibility to make contact with your supervisor and arrange meetings at
appropriate times. You should use the time with the supervisors wisely. The students must meet their supervisors for a minimum of four meetings per semester, over the span of the entire
You should spread your
workload over the entire time available for carrying out your project. Draw up
a realistic work schedule with in-built slack to allow for problems. Be sure you are aware of your specific
You must exchange contact
details with your supervisor, and make sure that he or she has your relevant
contact information. Your supervisor will keep a log of meetings with you.
After each meeting with your supervisor, you will both sign a student contact
and progression form. Note that if the
records show that your contact with your supervisor is not good; your project
may not be marked.
Be sure you are clear about the
assessment criteria for the project. Note that a significant proportion of the
grade is allocated to presentation and style. A high level of communication
skills is expected. However, it is not within the role or the duties of your
supervisor to correct your grammar and syntax.
Your supervisor will
comment upon samples of your work but will not pre-mark the whole
document, or substantial portions of it. If asked, you must present a sample of
your written work prior to a meeting with your supervisor, at an agreed
time. Under no circumstances will
your supervisor give you an indication of your expected final grade.
You must keep hard
copies of each version of your work, and save copies of the current version on
a main and a backup disk (preferably kept apart from each other). Disks should
regularly be virus-checked. Also, make sure to keep printed copies of working
documents, and the raw data from any questionnaires or other data collection.
Choose a topic, or an
issue, in which you are interested.
Get organised, give
yourself time to think about your project. Look at the information available -
is there enough information available for you to be able to produce a good
Be wary if you are relying
upon organisations to provide you with information. They will not give you
confidential or sensitive information and you must not expect them to respond
as promptly as you would like.
Visit the Library and
spend some time looking at previous projects.
With the help of your
project supervisor agree on the aims and objectives and the structure of the
project as soon as possible.
It is worthwhile investing in some
reliable storage devices for storing your project - related documents. Keep at
least two copies (updated). Remember to virus check your storage devices.
The final printing and
binding of your project can be the most frustrating time. Allow five working
days. Numbering pages, re-arranging pagination and putting together the
Contents page takes a deal of time – do not underestimate this part of your
task. By this time you will have been working on your project for some months -
you will be bored with it; you just want to hand it in and move on to the next
assignment. So, to save your time and frustration, allow yourself five working
days for this part of the task.
Do not underestimate the
enormity of the task ahead of you. The key points are to organise your time;
make and maintain contact with your supervisor, decide upon your topic and when
you have formulated your aims, objectives and structure - get on with it!
Finally, remember to
print and keep a copy of the project report for your own use, as no copy of the
report submitted will be returned to you.
A: Harvard Style Referencing
Referencing is a standardised method of acknowledging sources of
information and ideas that you have used in your report in a way that uniquely
identifies their source. Direct quotations and figures, as well as ideas and
theories, both from published and unpublished works must be referenced.
provides a brief guide to the Harvard Referencing style.
- In the references and bibliography
sections of the Project report, the referencing to material used from text
should appear as follows:
The author, year of publication followed by the title of the
textbook (in italics), publisher, location of the publisher.
Saunders, M. et al (2003), Research Methods for Business Students
(3rd edition), Pearson Education, Harlow.
In the text of the Project report the reference
would appear as follows:
identified by Saunders (2003) ……………………
If a direct quote is included in the text the page
number where it can be found should also be included while referencing.
“When drafting your literature
review you therefore need to focus on your research question(s) and
objectives.” (Saunders 2003, p47)
- In the references and bibliography
sections of the Project report, the referencing to material used from
journals should appear as follows:
The author’s name, followed by the title article, journal name in
italics, volume number.
Storey, J, Cressy, P, Morris, T and Wilkinson, A (1997) ‘ Changing
employment practices in UK
banking; case studies’, Personnel Review, 26:1, pp24-42.
In the text of the project report the same reference
would appear as follows:
………………being identified by Storey et al (1997)
- In the references and bibliography
sections of the Project report, the referencing to material used from
websites should appear as follows:
If you are referring to a specific article, it should be
detailed as for journal articles as mentioned above, but with the additional
information as to where it is available on the Internet.
Jones A and Smith A (eds) 2001 ‘What exactly is the
Labour Force Survey?’ (online) (cited 20 December 2001). Available from URL:
A typical BIBLIOGRAPHY is given hereunder for a better
note that all sources referenced in the main text should also be fully detailed
in the reference and bibliography section.