Lots of policy briefs

For those of you thinking about poicy briefs.

A good resource for sources of policy briefs.


Final paper draft guidelines (REVISED!)

Do you have any t houghts before I make this official?



Final Paper

Due Date:

May 7, 4 p.m.



MGMT 339  Spring 2009

Bucknell University

Jordi Comas, Assistant Professor of Management

Taylor 112


Office: 577 3161

Office Hours: Tuesday 3:30-4:30; Wednesday 9-10 and by appointment.


You will develop and execute a long form paper that combines research and organization theory and that presents information in a way that addresses the needs and interests of your chosen audience.  Your paper will be 3,000-4,000 words, excluding citations.


Þ    Combine research of at least one type (see below) with your knowledge of organization theory, and your skills as a researcher, thinker, and writer

Þ    Write for an audience, specifically, academic, Internet interest-based, or elite decision makers.

Þ    Demonstrate conceptual clarity and accuracy, coherent links between theory and phenomenon, perseverance with your topic, and critical thinking and sophistication.

More on Assignment (Tasks)

Research can mean several different activities.  These include:

–          Academic or Library Research: using the host of search tools to find published material that pertains to your topic.  The key difference between this and a google search is that this material has been through some sort of review and publishing process.  A half hour with one of Bucknell’s librarians can do a lot of good.

–          Internet (google search) research:  This is fast and easy.  The evaluation of quality can be trickier than with academic research.  Often, weaving between them can be effective for evaluating both.  For example, you know that Gerald Davis, author of your text book, is already an academic.  So imagine you find op-ed or opinion pieces by him.  You already know where he is coming from and also that he is unlikely (no guarantees) to be a paid hack for some company or interest.

–          “Policy” research: I may have coined this just know.  There are a range of think tanks and university research centers, as well as government offices like the committees of key Congressional committees, who collect, analyze, and interpret data.  This can be a treasure trove.  Their research is often meant to be persuasive or influence government or other elite decision-makers.  I find Bucknell Students vastly under-use it.  Evaluation is still on you, your wits, and your knowledge of where legitimate information comes from.  Some think tanks are more ideological or partisan than others.  That doesn’t  mean you can’t use it.  You just need to be aware of where people are coming from.  Depending on your topic, I may be able to give you a sense of what kind of research producer you are dealing with. Can’t hurt to ask me.

–          Primary research: This means you are collecting data directly.  Data can come in two flavors: qualitative and quantitative.  This data can often give you personally a much stronger conviction about your topic.  The learning payoffs can be much higher.  Employers or graduate schools are likely to recognize the value of someone who is comfortable with data collection.  The “noise,” that is, the lack of salience in the data, can also be high, especially with qualitative data.  On the other hand, the potential for errors in collecting with quantitative data are higher.

o   One unique case of primary research, the specialty of anthropologists, is your own observations and experience.  This has the benefit of ease of access and the difficulty of establishing validity and objectifying your subjective experiences.

o   Sometimes there is publically available data.  I will point out links on the blog.

In short, research is necessary but difficult.  No one type is universally preferable.  Short cuts may take you over cliffs.  And still, the confidence and knowledge gained makes it worthwhile.

You have a fair amount of latitude in what kind of research and research project you undertake.

Here are some ideas to get you started.

v  Long, encyclopedia-like, entry for a wiki that explore a school or paradigm of organization theory including a review of some empirical research. (Library research; Internet audience).  If you undertake this, we will need to consult about how venue and how to capture your contribution before it is altered.

v  Set of blog posts that take an organization theory school and discuss how it relates to a set of current events or organizations.  (Library research, Internet Research; Internet Audience).  These need to be thematically coherent, and not just a grab-bag or potpourri.

v  Policy analysis for a specific business, government, or organizational decision-maker.  A policy analysis is a genre of report that takes a specific problem, summarizes available research and from that review possible choices or courses of action for the decision maker. (Library research, policy research; Targeted audience)  If you opt for this one, you should find a real decision maker who in principle would be interested in your analysis.  Upon completion, we will discuss sending this to your decision-maker.

v  Teaching case based on a specific organization or organizational field.  (Library research, primary research; audience of students).  You would assemble the relevant facts and perspectives and create a case that allows students to imagine themselves in the shoes of a decision-maker in your case.  These cases could come from organizations you are a member of including ones found on campus.

v  A research project of your own design.  Consult with me soon!

The Best…

Of the first Two Weeks…

Special thanks to Evan and Leah for being the first two guest editors on the Blog Council. Of course, none of their fine work could be included for consideration.  These were not easy decisions, so kudos to everyone for producing such good content.

The council will provide individual feedback to a few randomly selected authors.  We want to encourage everyone to use more tags, practice embedding photos in posts, and write GOOD titles.