Guidelines for the Term Project
You can do one of two different kinds of research projects: diagnostic or research. The diagnostic project was designed for the MBAs in the class, while the research project was designed for the Ph.D.s. However, either kind of student can do either kind of project. A description of each is found below.
Projects may be executed individually or in groups. I recommend groups of two or three. You can also have hybrid designs in which, for example, the whole class collaborates to collect a single dataset, but then different individuals/teams do separate projects based on the common dataset.
The projects do not have to be quantitative, but they do need to be systematic.
The diagnostic project is basically a mini-consulting job in which you will work with a real organization in order to diagnose an organizational behavior problem (and suggest remedies) or provide an understanding of a situation that can be used to make decisions about the future. You will collect network data from the organization, analyze it using network analysis software, present the results to the class, and write-up a written report. Presumably, you will also be delivering a presentation and report to the organization.
The analysis should involve, at minimum, interpretation of network diagrams. Quantitative analyses are encouraged. Care should be taken that prescriptions flow from the diagnoses. The most common error in these kinds of projects is to suggest courses of action that are the author's favorite things to do (e.g., encourage more lateral connections) but which are not specifically called for by the unique situation at hand. There is no point in collecting and analyzing data if it doesn't affect the conclusions.
For examples of work with a diagnostic flavor, take at look at these websites:
The idea here is to conduct original research involving social network variables. For example, one might do a quantitative study of how centrality in the gossip network contributes to a person's power. Or one might do a qualitative study of how new employees become integrated in the organization's informal social network.
The paper should in principle be publishable in a management journal.
There are two key deliverables. One is a 20-minute PowerPoint presentation on the last day of classes. Creativity and clarity is encouraged in the presentation, within a basic framework of professionalism. The other is a 25+ page (double-spaced, 12-point, 1-inch margins) written report due a few days after the presentation (see schedule) via email.
The grade for the research project will be an average of the two deliverables.