EXMBA565-21W (TGA)

High Impact Project

30 Points

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Division of Management
Strategic Engagement
Professional Programmes


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: helen.nicol@waikato.ac.nz

Placement/WIL Coordinator(s)


Student Representative(s)

Lab Technician(s)


: clive.wilkinson@waikato.ac.nz

You can contact staff by:

  • Calling +64 7 838 4466 select option 1, then enter the extension.
  • Extensions starting with 4, 5, 9 or 3 can also be direct dialled:
    • For extensions starting with 4: dial +64 7 838 extension.
    • For extensions starting with 5: dial +64 7 858 extension.
    • For extensions starting with 9: dial +64 7 837 extension.
    • For extensions starting with 3: dial +64 7 2620 + the last 3 digits of the extension e.g. 3123 = +64 7 262 0123.
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Paper Description

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The Capstone Project provides an opportunity to investigate a topic in depth. The project should test your ability to engage in an investigative piece of work, using business research methods, resulting in a major report that will be of value to practitioners. It is the culmination of the MBA programme and you should be integrating the theories, models and experiences gained throughout your study programme.

What is the project?
The project should represent between 240 and 300 hours of work. We often liken the project to a consulting assignment which would cost the organisation between $20,000 and $30,000.

There are a number of approaches that can be taken and few fixed rules. We stipulate only that:

  • The project must be a topic you are excited about; otherwise, it will become tedious and you may not complete it in time
  • Your methodology should involve some kind of primary research (e.g. interviews, surveys), and not be merely "desk research"
  • Your report must demonstrate familiarity with existing literature about the topic
  • Your project must have practical value to developing your knowledge as a manager and, if appropriate, the effectiveness of the participating organisation(s)
  • The report should be written to a level that is can be published in your own organisation, or presented to the Board or Senior Management Team.

When selecting a topic, you may wish to consider one of the generic approaches, or you may wish to be more adventurous. Some of the generic approaches are:

  • Strategic analysis and redesign of a market, industry, company or business process
  • Selecting a topic from the MBA and developing an action research project that will extend your understanding of the topic
  • Developing a case study, based on an actual organisation, which applies theory from one of the MBA topics
  • Developing, testing and applying new, integrative theory – for example, showing the relationship between two bodies of management literature by applying these to an investigation involving actual organisations
  • Investigating a situation that puzzles you in your own organisation – for example, why the organisation culture stays the same despite changes in management; what could be done to address silo mentality; whether restructuring has any financial benefit for the organisation; how virtual communication takes place best
  • Developing a model based on stakeholder views for a holistic new venture or concept – for example developing an entrepreneurial ecosystem.

Such generic approaches are not mandatory. As long as your project proposal meets the five stipulations detailed above, a great deal of flexibility is available.
Some discretion is possible not only with regard to the topic and format of the report but also with regard to how it is supervised and assessed. For example, with action projects, we will consult with the project client or sponsor in assessing the value of the report.

What is different about the project?
The biggest difference is that you are working alone on the project, with a supervisor from the academic staff. There are no classes to attend and thus a greater degree of self-discipline is required. You will, however, be expected to meet with your supervisor at regularly scheduled times. During the last part of the MBA programme, there are gaps in the normal class times to allow you to concentrate on the project.

The project is structured so there are several compulsory deliverables, however, your supervisor in consultation with you may set other milestones. This will ensure that you keep to the time frame for the project.

Getting your project accepted
Your project proposal will be reviewed and you will be allocated a supervisor. The supervisor's role is to guide you through the process of conducting a research project. You should prepare a project plan for negotiation with your supervisor, showing the timelines to completion. It is your responsibility to contact your supervisor. It is important that you establish a mutually acceptable working relationship with your supervisor early.

Working with your supervisor

You should expect to spend about 5-6 hours in meetings with your supervisor and then the supervisor is expected to spend a further five hour reviewing your work and suggesting ways to improve. Remember that your supervisor will have other commitments, possibly including overseas travel, and cannot be assumed to be available at short notice.

Marking of your reports

The draft and final reports should be submitted by Moodle and also emailed directly to your supervisor. Supervisors have two weeks to turn around feedback on your draft. Feedback can be provided to the student as soon as the supervisor has marked the report, however, prior to a grade being allocated all draft and final reports will go out for moderation to an external party. Once all the class reports have been moderated the final grades will be available on Moodle. All reports are moderated by a third party to ensure consistency across both all class members and other MBA classes.

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Paper Structure

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The paper will be facilitated with face-to-face sessions, supported by online resources and contact with your supervisor about your project.
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Learning Outcomes

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Students who successfully complete the paper should be able to:

  • Demonstrate the integration of your MBA learning and apply it;
    Linked to the following assessments:
  • Competently engage with comprehensive business research;
    Linked to the following assessments:
  • Expertly present research findings and outcomes; and
    Linked to the following assessments:
  • Critically appraise findings and recommend valid conclusions or subsequent action.
    Linked to the following assessments:
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Assessment Components

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The internal assessment/exam ratio (as stated in the University Calendar) is 100:0. There is no final exam. The final exam makes up 0% of the overall mark.

The internal assessment/exam ratio (as stated in the University Calendar) is 100:0 or 0:0, whichever is more favourable for the student. The final exam makes up either 0% or 0% of the overall mark.

Component DescriptionDue Date TimePercentage of overall markSubmission MethodCompulsory
1. Mini-Proposal-Formative feedback
23 Apr 2021
10:30 PM
  • Online: Submit through Moodle
2. Data Collection Assignment in two parts
28 May 2021
11:30 PM
  • Online: Submit through Moodle
3. Needs Assessment Report
11 Jun 2021
11:30 PM
  • Online: Submit through Moodle
4. Ethics Application
  • Other: Via Ethics Portal (see Resource Tab in Moodle)
5. Draft Report
4 Mar 2022
11:30 PM
  • Online: Submit through Moodle
6. Presentation
24 Mar 2022
No set time
  • Presentation: In Class
7. Final Report
3 Apr 2022
12:00 PM
  • Other: Email to Supervisor (and Submit via Moodle)
Assessment Total:     100    
Failing to complete a compulsory assessment component of a paper will result in an IC grade
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Required and Recommended Readings

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Required Readings

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There are no specific readings for this paper - there will be readings associated with your chosen topic allocated by yourself and your supervisor.
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Online Support

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Waikato Management School Helpdesk: wms_helpdesk@waikato.ac.nz, 0800 WAIKATO, extn 4599

ITS: https://landesk.waikato.ac.nz0800 WAIKATO, extn 4008

Moodle help files

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As a general guide, 12-15 hours per week is required over the whole period of the paper.
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Linkages to Other Papers

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Restricted papers: EXED513, EXMBA551, EXMBA552

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