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Management 320

Research Project List


Diversity Lessons—“What Have We Learned?”

QUESTION: What are the current “facts” in terms of progress for minorities and women in the workplace? What lessons of diversity have been learned? What are the “best” employers doing?

Possible Research Directions:

• Examine case studies of employers reported as having strong diversity programs. What do they have in common? What do they do differently?

• Find out what we know about how well people of different racial, ethnic, gender, life-style, and generational groups work together. What are the common problems, if any? What concerns do managers and workers have?

• Get specific data on how the “glass ceiling” affects the careers of women and minorities in various occupational settings. Analyze the data and develop the implications.

• Take a critical look at the substance of diversity training programs. What do these programs try to accomplish, and how? Are they working or not, and how do we know?



Corporate Social Responsibility—“What’s the Status?

QUESTION:  Where do businesses stand today with respect to the criteria for evaluating social responsibility discussed in the textbook?

Possible Research Directions

• Create a scale that could be used to measure the social responsibility performance of an organization. Review the scholarly research in this area, but also include your own ideas and expectations.

• Use your scale to research and evaluate the “status” of major organizations and local ones on social responsibility performance. How well are they doing? Would you use them as models of social responsibility for others to follow, or not?

• Conduct research to identify current examples of the “best” and the “worst” organizations in terms of performance or social responsibility criteria. Pursue this investigation on an (a) international, (b) national, and/or (c) local scale.



Globalization—“What Are the Pros and Con?"

QUESTION:  “Globalization” is frequently in the news. You can easily read or listen to both advocates and opponents. What is the bottom line? Is globalization good or bad, and for whom?

Possible Research Directions

• What does the term “globalization” mean? Review various definitions and find the common ground.

• Read and study the scholarly arguments about globalization. Summarize what the scholars say about the forces and consequences of globalization in the past, present, and future.

• Examine current events relating to globalization. Summarize the issues and arguments. What is the positive side of globalization? What are the negatives that some might call its “dark” side?

• Consider globalization from the perspective of your local community or one of its major employers. Is globalization a threat or an opportunity, and why?

• Take a position on globalization. State what you believe to be the best course for government and business leaders to take. Justify your position.



Affirmative Action Directions—“Where Do We Go from Here?”

QUESTION:  Consultant R. Roosevelt Thomas argues that it is time to “move beyond affirmative action” and learn how to “manage diversity.” There are a lot of issues that may be raised in this context—issues of equal employment opportunity, hiring quotas, reverse discrimination, and others. What is the status of affirmative action today?

Possible Research Directions

• Read articles by Thomas and others. Make sure you are clear on the term “affirmative action” and its legal underpinnings. Research the topic, identify the relevant laws, and make a history line to chart its development over time.

• Examine current debates on affirmative action. What are the issues? How are the “for” and “against” positions being argued?

• Identify legal cases where reverse discrimination has been charged. How have they been resolved and with what apparent human resource management implications?

• Look at actual organizational policies on affirmative action. Analyze them and identify the common ground. Prepare a policy development guideline for use by human resource managers.

• As you ponder these issues and controversies be sure to engage different perspectives. Talk to and read about people of different “majority” and “minority” groups. Find out how they view these things—and why.



Fringe Benefits—“How Can They Be Managed”

QUESTION:  Employers complain that the rising cost of “fringe benefits” is a major concern. Is this concern legitimate? If so, how can fringe benefits best be managed?

Possible Research Directions

• Find out exactly what constitutes “fringe benefits” as part of the typical compensation package. Look in the literature and also talk to local employers. Find out what percentage of a typical salary is represented in fringe benefits.

• Find and interview two or three human resource managers in your community. Ask them to describe their fringe benefits programs and how they manage fringe benefits costs. What do they see happening in the future? What do they recommend? Talk to two or three workers from different employers in your community. Find out how things look to them and what they recommend.

• Pick a specific benefit such as health insurance. What are the facts? How are employers trying to manage the rising cost of health insurance? What are the implications for workers?

• Examine the union positions on fringe benefits. How is this issue reflected in major labor negotiations? What are the results of major recent negotiations?

• Look at fringe benefits from the perspective of temporary, part-time, or contingent workers. What do they get? What do they want? How are they affected by rising costs?



CEO Pay—“Is It Too High?”

QUESTION:  What is happening in the area of executive compensation? Are CEOs paid too much? Are they paid for “performance,” or are they paid for something else?

Possible Research Directions

• Check the latest reports on CEO pay. Get the facts and prepare a briefing report as if you were writing a short informative article for Fortune magazine. The title of your article should be “Status Report: Where We Stand Today on CEO Pay.”

• Address the pay-for-performance issue. Do corporate CEOs get paid for performance or for something else? What do the researchers say? What do the business periodicals say? Find some examples to explain and defend your answers to these questions.

• Take a position: Should a limit be set on CEO pay? If no, why not? If yes, what type of limit do we set? Who, if anyone, should set these limits—Congress, company boards of directors, or someone else?

• Examine the same issues in the university setting. Are university presidents paid too much?



Gender and Leadership—“Is There a Difference?”

QUESTION:  Do men and women lead differently?

Possible Research Directions

• Review the discussion on gender and leadership in the textbook, Chapter 14. Find and read the articles cited in the endnotes. Then, update this literature by finding and reading the most recent scholarly findings and reports.

• Interview managers from organizations in your local community. Ask them the question. Ask them to give you specific examples to justify their answers. Look for patterns and differences. Do male managers and female managers answer the question similarly?

• Interview workers from organizations in your local community. Ask them the question. Ask them to give you specific examples to justify their answers. Look for patterns and differences. Do male workers and female workers answer the question similarly? Do the same for students—pressing them to share insights and examples from their experiences in course study groups and student organizations.

• Summarize your findings. Describe the implications of your findings in terms of leadership development for both men and women.



Superstars on the Team—“What Do They Mean?”

QUESTION:  Do we want a “superstar” on our team?

Possible Research Directions

• Everywhere you look—in entertainment, in sports, and in business—a lot of attention these days goes to the superstars. What is the record of teams and groups with superstars? Do they really outperform the rest?

• What is the real impact of a superstar’s presence on a team or in the workplace? What do they add? What do they cost? Consider the potential costs of having a superstar on a team in the equation: Benefits - Costs = Value. What is the bottom line of having a superstar on the team?

• Interview the athletic coaches on your campus. Ask them the question. Compare and contrast their answers. Interview players from various teams. Do the same for them.

• Develop a set of guidelines for creating team effectiveness for a situation where a superstar is present. Be thorough and practical. Can you give advice good enough to ensure that a superstar always creates super performance for the team or work group or organization?


Management in Popular Culture—“Seeing Ourselves through Our Pastimes”

QUESTION:  What management insights are found in popular culture and reflected in our everyday living?

Possible Research Directions

• Listen to music. Pick out themes that reflect important management concepts and theories. Put them together in a multi-media report that presents your music choices and describes their messages about management and working today.

• Watch television. Look again for the management themes. In a report, describe what popular television programs have to say about management and working. Also consider TV advertisements. How do they use and present workplace themes to help communicate their messages?

• Read the comics, also looking for management themes. Compare and contrast management and working in two or three popular comic strips.

• Read a best-selling novel. Find examples of management and work themes in the novel. Report on what the author’s characters and their experiences say about people at work.

• Watch a film or video. Again, find examples of management and work themes. In a report describe the message of the movie in respect to management and work today.



Service Learning in Management—“Learning from Volunteering”

QUESTION:  What can you learn about management and leadership by working as a volunteer for a local community organization?

Possible Research Directions

• Explore service learning opportunities on your campus. Talk to your instructor about how to add a service learning component to your management course.

• List the nonprofit organizations in your community that might benefit from volunteers. Contact one or more of them and make inquiries as to how you might help them. Do it, and then report back on what you learned as a result of the experience that is relevant to management and leadership.

• Locate the primary schools in your community or region. Contact the school principals and ask how you might be able to help teachers working with first- through sixth-grade students. Do it, and then report back on what you learned with respect to personal management and leadership development.

• For either the nonprofit organization or the primary school, form a group of students who share similar interests in service learning. Volunteer as a group to help the organization and prepare a team report on what you learned.

• Take the initiative. Create service learning ideas of your own—to be pursued individually or as part of a team. While working as a volunteer always keep your eyes and ears open for learning opportunities. Continually ask—“What is happening here in respect to: leadership, morale, motivation, teamwork, conflict, interpersonal dynamics, organization culture and structures, and more?”