Dear Students, I was delighted to see the encouraging anticipation initiated by some of you toward your group project. Although I usually wait to discuss group projects until after the midterm, your willingness to push ahead with group work prompts me to engage in an early conversation with you on this subject. Because this week's lab has been cancelled, I hope you can use our regular class time next Wednesday for your group meeting and to get an early start on this project. I would like to focus on three important elements that should help you to put your group project in perspective and set up attainable goals.
The first element is about the nature of a case study. The greatest strength of the case method is that it provides an opportunity to develop and practice analytical and decision-making skills that will be helpful in difficult situations throughout your career. To be successful in our class project, you will need to prove your ability to reason effectively when dealing with specific problems, as well as to apply OB theories to real world situations. The case contains background information on the subject organization, including its main activity, its size and locations, and the people involved. The case also holds important clues and information about one or more problems the organization is experiencing. The organization's problem (s) may not be clearly defined, and you can expect the description to be surrounded by non-related issues and noise - just as in life.
An adequate diagnosis goes beyond retelling the story or pointing to specific events that might have led to the current problem (s). You will need to identify the underlying causes of the problem (s) in terms of OB concepts, such as communication, motivation, leadership, group dynamics and so on. Your diagnosis will help you recommend solutions that address the roots of the problem (s), as opposed to suggesting mere Band-Aids that will just result in the problem's resurfacing in a different form further down the line. (Imagine if you had a disease and your physician were to treat each of your various symptoms with a different medication instead of identifying the underlying disease that causes the symptoms and prescribing the correct treatment for that. ) The second element concerns guidelines and goals you should keep in mind. The case relates a series of events leading to a problem that the administrator in the situation must solve.
Put yourself in the role of a consultant to the organization; you should develop your case analysis as if you were hired in that capacity and will report your findings to the executive in charge. Your analysis should follow essentially the same steps (described in the syllabus) that a consultant would use in addressing the actual problem, and the analysis should apply the course content from BAD 304 in a systematic manner. The case grading criteria have already been posted on Blackboard, so use them as a self-diagnostic tool to continuously adjust and improve your write-up. There is no single right or wrong answer to this case; sound analyses are based on your ability to reason and express your arguments. The third element relates to my suggestions on how to manage your project. Other than logistic issues, your first meeting should focus on defining the organization's problem (s) from the information available in the case.
All of you should read the case prior to your meeting and come up with 3-4 major problems for the organization. Then, during your first meeting, you should be able to reach agreement on three essential problems in this case. Once consensus is reached, you can break the problems into individual or subgroup responsibilities. The person or subgroup in charge of a particular problem could also be primarily responsible for providing subsequent conceptual analysis, alternative generation and final recommendation for that particular problem. However separated your group members' tasks are on the surface, your group process should revolve around a deep sharing spirit - alternating between individual judgment and group consensus until the final project embodies the best input from each of you. If you prefer other ways of managing the project, you are welcome to exercise them so as to maximize your group effort.
All members of the group will receive the same grade for the project. That means you are responsible for managing your group process so that all members perform their fair share of the task. I intend to set up a meeting every other week with your group representative to keep track of your group process and to help you to deal with any potential problems early on. Due to equity and fairness issues, I will not be able to provide specific feedback on your drafts prior to the due date.
However, I am happy to answer any overall questions or concerns you may have so as to facilitate your team's progress and to ensure the project performance standard. When you submit your final case write-up, please make sure you provide BOTH paper copy and electronic copy of your paper to me. I hope you all treat this project as an opportunity to learn not only OB course concepts and case methods but also how to work better in a group setting. Best wishes to your team effort, Lin.