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Parameters for MBAC 6801- Applied Research Project
1. Breadth of options. For the culminating essay, students are encouraged to emphasize their deeply felt interests. To experience the project as an opportunity, not a hurdle. Flexibility is the most important strategic principle in setting the norms for acceptable problem areas and for research methodology options in MBAC6801. Any topic on community economic development, economic geography, leadership, strategy, human resources, organizational behaviour, marketing, or other business disciplines is acceptable.
2. Interactive development/approval process. It is unwise – indeed, impossible – to lay out highly specific requirements to suit all cases. Instead, within broad parameters, each student’s project plan has to emerge through an interactive and iterative process. The key strategic principle of that process is to enrich a student’s opportunity to develop an engaged and good quality piece of work. Particulars will have to evolve through practice and further discussions, but presently the process involves the following. Each student would submit a proposal to the MBA in CED office, for feedback and initial approval/screening. This stage could include an interview. The subsequent development and assessment would then become the responsibility of the student and his or her two academic advisors. The student will have a major say in who these advisors will be. One’s mentor-practitioner will also play an important part in the evolution of the project. If the envisioned project pushes the prescribed boundaries of theme and/or design (see below), it is the student’s responsibility (in consultation with the advisors) to justify her/his approach within the proposal. We also encourage students to include project elements that expand their personal range of previously achieved expertise.
3. Essay competencies. We expect the final paper to embody good standards, which include the following.
(a) It meets firm academic standards of scholarship and of presentation form. (b) It makes a significant contribution to the CED or business literature – not that it has to be a ground-breaking triumph, but something that CED practitioners and managers will find worth reading. (c) It is written well – not a stylistic masterpiece, but clear and thus accessible to a rather broad readership. (d) It should be 70 pages (15,000 words) at minimum and not exceed 150 pages (37,500 words) for the main body of the report, excluding appendices and the like.
4. Thematic & research design options. We addressed two basic questions about parameters here.
(a) Quantitative, qualitative, or both? The research problem has to dictate the process, not the reverse. Thus, the type of data and ensuing analysis may be quantitative or qualitative or a combination, depending on the nature of the research questions.
(b) “Business” or “social/community” focus, or both? The short answer is “both.” But these components are not to be understood narrowly or rigidly. There is a flexible interpretation of what is meant by a business focus. At one extreme, a student may opt to mobilize technical tools and frameworks in accounting, venture analysis, finance, etc. At the other extreme, a student may deal with themes and
ARP parameters (MBA in CED), p. 2
approaches that are business-relevant rather than “technical.” The former might be matters of government policy, leadership, organizational behaviour, consumer or community responses, or many other such possibilities. Community themes must also appear in the essay, even in the instance where the student designs a project with a technical business-analysis focus. (See the heuristic “model” A, below.)
The following sketch of five “typical” approaches or heuristic models will suggest the range of flexibility we envision. These descriptions merely indicate – rather than rigidly prescribe – students’ options (remember p.1, above). Also, blends of these forms are feasible. Students should use these categories as a stimulus for thought, not to pigeonhole their projects into one or another category in the list.
A. A conventional business emphasis. Analysis of an existing or proposed business as a multifaceted feasibility study, etc. Probably more quantitative in strategy. Must also, however, address CED questions of what the business “does for” the community – beyond such elementary issues as yielding jobs.
B. A qualitative case study of a CED initiative. Probably relying on (for example) participant observation, interviews, &/or textual analysis as data-generating approaches. Must not be mere “description,” such as a sheerly “factual history.” Rather, has to build around a theoretical concern or around an issue/problem. Ought to culminate in a statement of what the case teaches about community impact and what is to be done as a consequence.
C. A survey. Design and carry out a sample survey. Typically quantitative. Focusing on any subset of a wide variety of potential issues, while ensuring that both social/community and business-relevant dimensions fall within the scope.
D. A problem-focused analysis. Quantitative &/or qualitative. A wide range of thematic and design foci are possible here. For example: design a process for program evaluation; design and carry out a program-evaluation study; scrutinize issues of governance in a CED initiative.
E. A theory-centered critique. Data could consist of documentary texts (published &/or unpublished). One version of this option, for example, could be study of an enterprise, policy process, movement, etc., relative to a fundamental theoretical model of social relations and priorities (such as free-enterprise market theory or feminism or socialism or communitarianism), with implications for assessment of good CED practice.
ARP parameters (MBA in CED), p. 3
Components of the ARP The ARP must include: • a detailed table of contents; • a brief abstract; • an introduction that clearly states the rationale and objectives of the research; • a comprehensive review of the literature; • a final conclusion and summary; • a thorough bibliography or reference list. • Appendix containing an approved ethics application in the case of research involving human or animal subjects, microorganisms, living cells, other biohazards and/or radioactive material.
Title Page The title page must include: • the title of the ARP; • the name of the author; • the month and year the ARP was submitted; • the following statement: “An ARP submitted to Cape Breton University in partial fulfillment of the requirements of the degree of Master of Business Administration in Community Economic Development; • the name of each advisor (primary and secondary) and their signature confirming their approval of the document; • the universal copyright notice followed by the author’s name and the year the ARP was submitted.
Abstracts Every copy of the ARP must have an abstract. Abstracts must provide a concise summary of the ARP (150 words or less).
Acknowledgements The candidate is required to declare, in the preface or in an acknowledgements section, the extent to which assistance (paid or unpaid) has been given by members of staff, fellow students, technicians or others in the collection of materials and data, the design and construction of apparatus, the performance of experiments, the analysis of data, and the preparation of the ARP (including editorial help). In addition, it is appropriate to recognize the supervision and advice given by ARP supervisors.
Length The ARP will normally not exceed 150 pages (37,500 words), for the main body of the report, excluding appendices and the like. The minimum is 70 pages (15,000 words).
Final Version The final version of the ARP must be free from typographical, grammatical and other errors when submitted. While this is the responsibility of the student, advisors should not sign off on ARPs that are not as error free as possible.
ARP parameters (MBA in CED), p. 4
1. Script and Page Format ARPs must be typed. Letter-size (8.5″ x 11”) paper or standard European-size paper must be used. A conventional font, size 10 or 12-point, 10 to 12 characters per inch must be used. Line spacing must be 1.5.
Left-hand margins should have a width of not less than 1.5 inches, to facilitate binding. The right-hand margin need not be justified but it should be well defined at approximately 1inch. The top and bottom margins should be 1 inch.
2. Paper and Print Quality Paper and print quality are vitally important for successful scanning/microfilming and legibility. The ARP can be printed on standard quality paper (e.g., 20-lb photocopy paper). The original of all theses must be of laser-print quality or letter quality. The ARP must be single-sided.
3. Pagination Positioning of page numbers is optional. Pages with figures or illustrations may be numbered in sequence or left unnumbered. The chosen procedure must be used consistently throughout the ARP. Pagination must be carefully checked for correct sequence and completeness. All errors must be corrected before final deposition.
4. Footnotes, References and Appendices These should conform to a scholarly style appropriate to the discipline. Footnotes may be placed at the bottom of the page or at the end of each chapter. Consistency of formatting for footnotes and references is required throughout the ARP. (Note: You may consult handbooks such as the MLA or APA handbook for formatting styles).
5. Figures and Illustrations Figures, tables, graphs, etc., should be positioned according to the scientific publication conventions of the discipline. Illustrations must be drawn using an ink that permits microfilming and high quality photocopying. (For the same reason, colour-coding is not recommended for graphs, charts, etc.). Charts, graphs, maps, and tables that are larger than the standard page should be avoided unless absolutely necessary. Overlays must be meticulously positioned in the text.
Where graphs, illustrations, photographs, etc. fill an entire page, these pages can be numbered in sequence or left unnumbered (see Pagination above). Legends or captions accompanying such full-page graphics must be presented on a separate page.
6. Photographs Photographs may be incorporated into the ARP. The final (single-sided) copy of the ARP must be black and white throughout. It must include either high-quality black-and-white photocopies or black-and-white reprints of colour photos. High contrast black-and-white photos reproduce well. Photographs with a glossy finish or dark backgrounds should be avoided.
7. Additional Materials Slides, tapes, diskettes, etc. are to be avoided if possible and can be included only if the candidate authorizes the reproduction of the ARP without them.
8. Binding and Labelling. The ARP copies will be bound by CBU, at a nominal cost.
ARP parameters (MBA in CED), p. 5
Withholding the ARP
Occasionally there are unusual circumstances under which a student may prefer that the ARP not be published. These circumstances may involve the disclosure of patentable rights in the work before a patent can be granted or similar disclosures detrimental to the rights of the author. They may involve disclosures of facts about persons or institutions before professional ethics would permit such disclosures. The Director may, under substantiated circumstances of the kind indicated and with the endorsement of and an explanatory letter from the student’s supervisor permit the ARP to be withheld from the library for a period of up to five years. Completed and signed library waiver forms must be submitted with the ARP, together with the above-mentioned letter.
• All sources must be clearly referenced
• At least three sources must be less than twelve months old.
• Include a summary of any primary research undertaken, in the form of tables of data collected in a survey
• Copies of sources must be submitted: You must attach printouts of articles or Web pages cited and photocopies of printed articles and book pages used. Please highlight the words you have quoted or cited. You must attach copies of survey forms/scripts used
You must submit copies of surveys collected to your primary advisor.
Candidates are required to submit two hard copies and a digital copy of the final ARP.
Copies of sources must be submitted also. You must submit printouts of articles or Web pages cited and photocopies of printed articles and book pages used. Please highlight the words you have quoted or otherwise cited.
You must also submit copies of survey forms/scripts used and copies of surveys collected