Research Paper: This is a graduate course and students will be expected to research and write papers summarizing in their own words what they have found on current topics from the weekly readings.

Research Paper: This is a graduate course and students will be expected to research and write papers summarizing in their own words what they have found on current topics from the weekly readings. Research is a theoretical review of relevant literature and application of findings in the literature to a topic related to a specific industry, field, or business problem. The research must be conducted using peer-reviewed trade or academic journals. While Blogs, Wikipedia, encyclopedias, course textbooks, popular magazines, newspaper articles, online websites, etc. are helpful for providing background information, these resources are NOT suitable resources for this research assignment. Please Note: The UC Library staff are very helpful with assisting students in using the UC Online Library journal database. Please contact them if you have issues. In addition, the instructor has provided additional resources, including a research tutorial, in the “Course Resources” folder in the “Content” area of the course. Assignment Requirements:

  1. Choose a research topic from the chapter readings or from the list provided by your professor.
  2. Research/find a minimum at least four (4), preferably five (5) or more, different peer-reviewed articles on your topic from the University of the Cumberlands Library online business database. The article(s) must be relevant and from a peer-reviewed source. While you may use relevant articles from any time frame, current/published within the last five (5) years are preferred. Using literature that is irrelevant or unrelated to the chosen topic will result in a point reduction.
  3. Write a four (4) to five (5) page double spaced paper in APA format discussing the findings on your specific topic in your own words. Note – paper length does not include cover page, abstract, or references page(s).
  4. Structure your paper as follows:
    1. Cover page
    2. Overview describing the importance of the research topic to current business and professional practice in your own words.
    3. Purpose of Research should reflect  the potential benefit of the topic to the current business and professional practice and the larger body of research.
    4. Review of the Literature summarized in your own words. Note that this should not be a “copy and paste” of literature content, nor should this section be substantially filled with direct quotes from the article. A literature review is a summary of the major points and findings of each of the selected articles (with appropriate citations). Direct quotations should be used sparingly. Normally, this will be the largest section of your paper (this is not a requirement; just a general observation).
    5. Practical Application of the literature. Describe how your findings from the relevant research literature can shape, inform, and improve current business and professional practice related to your chosen topic.
    6. Conclusion in your own words
    7. References formatted according to APA style requirements

Grading Criteria:

  • Content Knowledge & Structure (25 points): All of the requested components are completed as assigned; content is on topic and related to competitive strategy, critical thinking is clearly demonstrated (few, if any, direct quotations from the source in the paper); scholarly research is demonstrated; topics and concepts gained from the assigned reading and/or from research is evident.
  • Critical Thinking (25 points): Demonstrates substantial critical thinking about topics and solid interpretation of materials and reflection.
  • Clarity & Effective Communication (25 points): Communication is clear, concise, and well presented; scholarly writing is demonstrated; grammar, sentence structure, writing in third person, and word choice is used correctly.
  • Integration of Knowledge & Articles (25 points): Articles used are current and relevant (preferably published within last five (5) years and MUST be from peer-reviewed journal article publications. At least four (4) peer-reviewed journal articles are examined and analyzed in the paper.
  • Presentation & Writing Mechanics (50 points): Cover page, headings, in-text citations, page citations (page number citations required for specific information such as dates, years, list of items from article, names, numbers, statistics, and other specific information), and references are properly formatted.

Please Note: Plagiarism will not be tolerated. The paper must be written in your own words.


Residency: Research Paper – List of potential research topics To complete the Article Research Paper, please select a topic from the list provided below or from the chapter readings.  Strategic Management: Creating Competitive Advantages  The strategic management process and its three interrelated and principal activities.  Corporate governance and stakeholder management  The importance of social responsibility, including environmental sustainability, and how it can enhance a corporation’s innovation strategy.  An awareness of a hierarchy of strategic goals can help an organization achieve coherence in its strategic direction.  Analyzing the External Environment of the Firm  The importance of developing forecasts of the business environment.  Environmental scanning, environmental monitoring, and collecting competitive intelligence  The impact of the general environment on a firm’s strategies and performance.  Forces in the competitive environment and profitability  Assessing the Internal Environment of the Firm  The primary and support activities of a firm’s value chain.  Value-chain analysis  The resource-based view of a firm  Financial ratio analysis  The value of the “balanced scorecard” in recognizing how the interests of a variety of stakeholders can be interrelated.  Why the management of knowledge professionals and knowledge itself are so critical in today’s organizations.  Social capital in leveraging human capital within and across the firm.  The importance of social networks in knowledge management and in promoting career success.  The vital role of technology in leveraging knowledge and human capital.  Why “electronic” or “virtual” teams are critical in combining and leveraging knowledge in organizations and how they can be made more effective.  The challenge of protecting intellectual property and the importance of a firm’s dynamic capabilities.  Business-Level Strategy: Creating and Sustaining Competitive Advantages    The central role of competitive advantage in the study of strategic management and the three generic strategies: overall cost leadership, differentiation, and focus.  How the successful attainment of generic strategies can improve the firm’s relative power vis-à-vis the five forces that determine an industry’s average profitability.  The pitfalls managers must avoid in striving to attain generic strategies.  How firms can effectively combine the generic strategies of overall cost leadership and differentiation.  What factors determine the sustainability of a firm’s competitive advantage?  The importance of considering the industry life cycle to determine a firm’s business-level strategy and its relative emphasis on functional area strategies and value-creating activities.  The need for turnaround strategies that enable a firm to reposition its competitive position in an industry.  Corporate-Level Strategy: Creating Value through Diversification  The reasons for the failure of many diversification efforts.  How managers can create value through diversification initiatives.  How corporations can use related diversification to achieve synergistic benefits through economies of scope and market power.  How corporations can use unrelated diversification to attain synergistic benefits through corporate restructuring, parenting, and portfolio analysis.  The various means of engaging in diversification – mergers and acquisitions, joint ventures/strategic alliances, and internal development.  The importance of international expansion as a viable diversification strategy.  The motivations (or benefits) and the risks associated with international expansion, including the emerging trend for greater offshoring and outsourcing activity.  The two opposing forces – cost reduction and adaptation to local markets – that firms face when entering international markets.  Entrepreneurial Strategy and Competitive Dynamics  The role of opportunities, resources, and entrepreneurs in successfully pursuing new ventures.  Three types of entry strategies – pioneering, imitative, and adaptive – commonly used to launch a new venture.  How the generic strategies of overall cost leadership, differentiation, and focus are used by new ventures and small businesses.  How competitive actions, such as the entry of new competitors into a marketplace, may launch a cycle of actions and reactions among close competitors.  The components of competitive dynamics analysis – new competitive action, threat analysis, motivation and capability to respond, types of competitive actions, and likelihood of competitive reaction.  Strategic Control and Corporate Governance  The value of effective strategic control systems in strategy implementation.  The imperative for contemporary control systems in today’s complex and rapidly changing competitive and general environments.  The role of corporate governance mechanisms in ensuring that the interests of managers are aligned with those of shareholders from both the United States and international perspectives.  Creating Effective Organizational Designs  The growth patterns of major corporations and the relationship between the firm’s strategy and its structure.  The implication of a firm’s international operations for organizational structure.  The different types of boundaryless organizations – barrier-free, modular, and virtual – and their relative advantages and disadvantages.  The need for creating ambidextrous organizational designs that enable firms to explore new opportunities and effectively integrate existing operations.  Strategic Leadership: Creating a Learning Organization and an Ethical Organization  The crucial role of emotional intelligence (EI) in successful leadership, as well as its potential drawbacks.  The importance of creating a learning organization.  The leader’s role in establishing an ethical organization.  Integrity-based and compliance-based approaches to organizational ethics.  Managing Innovation and Fostering Corporate Entrepreneurship  The importance of implementing strategies and practices that foster innovation.  The challenges and pitfalls of managing corporate innovation processes.  How corporations use new venture teams, business incubators, and product champions to create an internal environment and culture that promote entrepreneurial development.  How corporate entrepreneurship achieves both financial goals and strategic goals.  The benefits and potential drawbacks of real options analysis in making resource deployment decisions in corporate entrepreneurship contexts.  How an entrepreneurial orientation can enhance a firm’s efforts to develop promising corporate venture initiatives.  Analyzing Strategic Management Cases  How strategic case analysis is used to simulate real-world experiences.  How analyzing strategic management cases can help develop the ability to differentiate, speculate, and integrate when evaluating complex business problems.  The steps involved in conducting a strategic management case analysis.  How integrative thinking and conflict-inducing discussion techniques can lead to better decisions.

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