EXMBM533-20M (HAM)

Action Learning Project

15 Points

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Division of Management
Strategic Engagement
Professional Programmes


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: ashleigh.neame@waikato.ac.nz
: 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:
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Paper Description

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The primary purpose of the Action Learning Project (ALP) is to allow the participants to (a) apply their knowledge through the development of a real, sustainable business opportunity in New Zealand; (b) to meet with business executives from New Zealand; and (c) to showcase their competence in a format that is highly visible and respected throughout the world.

Through the formal approach of creating a business plan and 'defending' it during a live review session with senior executives, this paper combines the previously taught topics and allows the participants to bring the knowledge from their learning in the MBM, life experience, research and real-life market feedback together in a coherent, yet challenging format. This paper draws on the general interest of students in New Zealand to (a) learn how business opportunities can be created that might produce value and career opportunities either in New Zealand or their home countries; (b) to differentiate themselves from others who might seek similar job opportunities; and (c) to interact with external business executives.

The paper is based on the knowledge that taught materials are better understood when they are applied in the context of action learning; where the instructor draws back and the participants are given an opportunity to drive projects themselves. We consider this action learning approach an important element of this programme to give participants who have little/no work experience an opportunity to relate their classroom knowledge to the real marketplace. There is no new academic content delivered in this paper, but rather an opportunity to refresh your thinking and synthesise the various and diverse management topics that you have learned and practiced over the past year.

We offer the ALP towards the end of the MBM programme, after the participants have developed skills and basic tools during classroom taught courses. Groups of participants, rather than individuals, will be given the freedom to select a new business opportunity and then develop a comprehensive business plan. This paper includes instructions on the process of how business plans are developed, tested and then ‘sold’ to funders.

The main deliverable of this paper is a real-life business plan to either introduce innovation to an existing operation or to create a new business altogether. This requires effective group engagement to perform comprehensive market research, to validate initial assumptions, to create a realistic depiction of future expectations, to understand the financial requirements of a sustainable business, and to connect the ideals of the new effort with the realities of funding and stakeholder expectations. This project provides students with the ability to:

  • Isolate key success factors in a future business and to position the venture for maximum support from internal and external stakeholders
  • Demonstrate skills for business plan marketing and venture capital funding through real-life standards of business plan content quality and presentation effectiveness
  • Apply key concepts in strategic decision making, financial planning and stakeholder relationships through interaction with prospective stakeholders, markets, senior management, finance sources and competitors
  • Integrate the previously taught knowledge of competitive management structures
  • Develop presentation abilities to a level suitable to impress senior managers in New Zealand.

In this ‘capstone’ paper, knowledge generated from previous papers must be applied to demonstrate a solid understanding of business processes with a holistic approach to creating and implementing new directions for long-term sustainable value for stakeholders. The business plan generated in this paper can either be connected to an existing real-life firm and provide the basis for actual management performance improvements or be for a newly created entity or department/project.

The most important function of this paper is to provide an integrative mechanism for the MBM as a whole. This is achieved by selecting projects which allow the application of the materials taught in class. Each project will allow for external and internal research, the crafting of strategic or operational solutions to management challenges, and the effective presentation of findings to the external management team. You are allowed to EITHER (a) present a new business opportunity, (b) significantly innovate in an existing business, or (c) propose a not-for-profit opportunity.

This is an action learning paper, so please note two important provisos:

  1. This is not a game or a business simulation. Each group will develop, in their role as business developers, a real-life business opportunity including a detailed plan for how such a business will function and be successful.
  2. The balancing of normal study, home life, and the ALP must be done with due regard to the interests of all parties. It is expected that the group will distribute the workload among the participants to blend the demands of these factors into practical performance.
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Paper Structure

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This paper will be delivered face-to-face on-campus and offered online synchronously. The paper delivery will be supported by online resources and several ZOOM sessions (as required) to discuss progress with each group.

Session recordings will be made available via Moodle. Please refer to Moodle for details.


This is the opportunity to receive feedback in a full presentation situation. It is a practice for the heats, therefore you are expected to be dressed professionally and your presentation and report should be ready for a full evaluation.

The heats will run on 16 February There will be a winning team announced for each of the three/four pools in the heats. The heats will produce three/four finalist teams who will present on 19 February.

The 19 February event will include a welcome and introduction by University management, presentations by three/four teams of 15 mins each with 15 mins Q&A with the judges, followed by judges' deliberation and presentations of the winning group

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Learning Outcomes

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Students who successfully complete the paper should be able to:

  • Apply taught materials in a live commercial environment by developing a business plan for growth in an existing organisation or for a new venture
    Linked to the following assessments:
  • Work alongside others in a team and manage the contributions of several people to produce quality joint outcomes with the strength of diverse backgrounds and resources
    Linked to the following assessments:
  • Apply material taught throughout the MBM programme for business analysis into a real business environment
    Linked to the following assessments:
  • Demonstrate the process that develops business opportunities
    Linked to the following assessments:
    Pitch to the Dragons - group (3)
    Report - group (4)
    Reflection Video (Individual) (5)
  • Use the data sources necessary for undertaking financial and market analyses . Identify the risk in decisionmaking and venture planning
    Linked to the following assessments:
    Pitch to the Dragons - group (3)
    Report - group (4)
  • Pitch the venture to a group of business executives through effective salesmanship and presentation competence.
    Linked to the following assessments:
    Pitch to the Dragons - group (3)
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All assessments need to be completed.

PLEASE NOTE: The University has zero-tolerance for Plagiarism.

All assessment must be submitted as a Word document, unless otherwise stated.

Booking of rooms for group meetings

Please see Moodle and class handbook for details on submission.
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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. MBM E-Portfolio (Individual)
4 Feb 2021
11:30 PM
  • Online: Submit through Moodle
2. Pre-Heats presentation-group
11 Feb 2021
12:00 AM
  • In Class: In Lecture
3. Pitch to the Dragons - group
16 Feb 2021
No set time
  • Presentation: In Class
4. Report - group
19 Feb 2021
11:30 PM
  • Online: Submit through Moodle
5. Reflection Video (Individual)
21 Feb 2021
11:30 PM
  • Online: Submit through 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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No text:
Readings are provided for all key elements of this paper and can be found on Moodle. The readings represent a sampling of current academic literature in this area, or are from academic journals with a focus on the respective topics.

It is expected you have read the relevant material prior to attending each session.

Refer to Moodle.
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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.nz 0800 WAIKATO, extn 4008
Moodle help files
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As a general guide 30-40 hours per week is required over the whole period of the paper.
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Linkages to Other Papers

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Note any linkages to other papers where the linkage is of importance.
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Restricted papers: EXPM515

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