To apply economic theory, models, concepts and quantitative skills to real-world business issues rather than artificial examples, an important assignment of this class is a term project. The project provides a valuable opportunity for students to explore, in detail, a particular issue of their interest that is relevant to managerial economics. Each group is required to write a research paper and present the results to class.
The project can be on any issue related to managerial economics that we discuss in class (e.g., demand, supply, pricing, regulations, competition, new technology, etc). The subject of analysis can be a company (either new or established firms), an industry, the government, or a proposed new business. It should contain investigative elements, apply economic theory/models/concepts and management principles, perform in-depth analytical and quantitative analysis with empirical data, and bring new insights, rather than merely descriptive assessments.
Timeline & Deliverables
Decide on a topic for your group. Submit the topic with a brief outline on what the project is about.
Prepare/present the proposal in PowerPoint slides of 5 pages. Describe the topic, research questions, key issues, approach and methods, and plans for data collection and analysis.
Data collection and analysis; individual group meeting with the professor (round 1).
Individual group meeting with the professor (round 2).
Final presentation and paper. Each group will have an opportunity to present the findings in class. Submit presentation slides and written reports by the due date.
© Xiahua Wei, Project Guidelines
It is wise to start early. Forming groups and start thinking about your topic as soon as possible. Develop a clear structure and specific plan for your teamwork. Meet with your group members regularly (e.g., weekly) to collaborate. Meeting in person is far more effective than exchanging emails/talking over the phone. How often you can meet is a practical question, but it is important to bring everyone on board, brainstorm new ideas, and make sure everyone is on the same page, whether it is data collection, analysis, writing or presentation.
Be proactive to reach out various resources. Visit the library and consult librarians early in your research. Video tutorials on “How Do I…” cover a wide range of topics, and can point you to the right directions. On Canvas “Modules,” I provide some useful information/links under “Project Guidelines” section, including example papers, guide to writing in economics, websites for data, etc.
The topic should be relevant and interesting. It should be related to the themes covered in this class. Before you decide on topic, you may find it helpful to look through the themes/topics covered in the syllabus.
It is highly recommended that you choose a specific and focused topic for the project instead of writing a general and shallow report on a broad topic. Be specific. Narrow down your topic early so that you can do a detailed in-depth analysis. Other than that, you are free to define your project topic. Some examples of topics include, but not limited to:
– Pricing/advertising as a competitive strategy
– Market entry, global expansion, emerging markets
– Government regulations and consumer surplus/total surplus
– Merger & acquisition and firm performance/market competition (firm performance can be measured by different metrics: revenue, profit, market share, stock price, production efficiency, etc.)
– Technology adoption and firm performance/market competition
You can refer to examples of topics (“Example Papers” under the “Project Guidelines” section on Canvas). Be creative with your own topics.
It is important to support your analysis by facts and data. Hence, data collection constitutes a critical component of the research project. Creativity is at the center of the efforts; be creative about data collection. Think of your own ways to gather data.
© Xiahua Wei, Project Guidelines
To get you started, please refer to the 310 Class Research Guide (http://libguides.uwb.edu/BUS310). Also, below is a list of typical ways to gather research data:
Datasets available at UW library
Querying the company web site
3rd party (research agencies, industry associations, and Internet infomediaries)
Field interviews (face-to-face, phone, email)
Survey and questionnaire (web-based survey is a new Internet-enabled research means)
Company financial reports, balance sheets, and SEC filings (e.g. 10-K, 10-Q forms)
– Software: Excel (optional: SPSS, Stata, or any similar statistical programs)
– Show summary statistics, correlation matrix, time trends, etc.
– The most important part: regression/forecasting analysis; in addition, you can incorporate other models/techniques, such as demand/supply model, game theory, etc.
– Make assumptions in your analysis, if necessary
– Discuss your results: statistical and economic interpretations.
The paper should be 20-25 pages long (1.5 space, 12 time font, and 1” all four margins), plus any data charts, spreadsheets, graphs, tables, figures as appendix. Clarity of writing is a high priority. The length or format depends on the content. A typical report would include the following information:
1) Executive Summary (less than 300 words)
2) Introduction (history/background of the company/industry; identify the issue that you study, explain why it is important, layout your research questions, and describe the objective of the project)
4) Data (a detailed description of the data, variables definition, summary statistics, correlation matrix, graphs of trend)
5) Regression analysis, and discussion of results
6) Conclusions/recommendations/managerial implications for decision-making/thoughts on future work
7) References (cite all the information sources, including links to relevant websites). Format of citations and bibliography follows MLA, APA or Chicago style, and should be consistent throughout the paper.
8) Page limit: 25 pages. No page limit on Appendix.
Please read example papers to see how to organize the paper, present models/tables/figures, interpret results, and discuss implications.
© Xiahua Wei, Project Guidelines
Making an effective presentation is an important skill in business administration. Quality presentations should be insightful, focused, fun, and within time limit. The following suggestions might be useful:
1) Practice and rehearse your presentation in advance.
2) Do not read from your notes or slides. Instead, speak to the audience lively.
3) Be efficient, get to the key points quickly and clearly.
4) Add some video or multimedia content.
5) Have one person (or two) from your team to complete the whole presentation. Choose a good speaker. Having the whole group to take turns is not always efficient.
6) Stay within the time limit.
Projects that are creative, provocative, insightful, and interesting are always highly regarded.
Effective projects will evince both knowledge of the underlying business issue and the implication for management. Grading will be based on the following:
how interesting the topic area is in its relevance to the course,
the novelty and potential of the basic idea you present,
quality of your supporting data,
depth of your analysis,
quality of your presentation in both its written and oral formats.
The bottom line is that each project is expected to create its own novel contributions.
Everyone should know that intellectual honesty is always important. Your analysis may draw on business press, library resources, course materials, web-based information, or industry contacts. Always give credit and cite the source when you use other people’s work (or data). The same principle applies to Internet sources (give URL links). Also, You are not allowed to submit projects/assignments of other courses to fulfill the requirement of this class.
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