Business Research Report

Instructions and Assessment
Due date: see course outline
Submission method: Moodle
Purpose
This report is your opportunity to show that you can do business research and write a report that the appropriate people can use and put into action.
Instructions
The word count is 5,000-7,000 words.
It is recommended that you read Chapter 16 of Hair et al. which is about writing a business research report. It provides some good background. Take special note of the Dashboard on p. 461 and the guidelines on p. 462.
However, you are required to follow the format below for your final report. The bullet points are not intended as specific sub-sections, but they are things that you need to include and discuss in your report.
Executive summary
• Who requested this report?
• What is the reason/objective of the report?
• What you did
• What you found
• What action is recommended
Keep the executive summary brief and concise. On one page, or two pages at most. It should draw the reader in and make him or her want to read the rest of the report.
Table of Contents
• Keep this short and easy to read
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Applied Research
and
Consultancy Practices
Some readers will want to go straight to the recommendations and then maybe browse through the rest of the report.
1. Introduction/Background
• Who requested this report?
• What problem/opportunity Is the central focus?
• Time frame: When did the project start and end?
• Why this report is important to read?
• What actions must be taken?
• What happens if these actions are not taken?
• What assumptions have you made? This can be extremely important. If someone disagrees with your conclusions, for instance, you can ask which assumptions they disagree with, because the conclusions should follow from the assumptions. Clear assumptions are your protection.
2. What was done (Methodology)
• Any people you talked with? Any you wanted to talk with but didn’t? This is unlikely for this case as it is secondary research; however we include it for the more general situation where the report contains both primary and secondary research.
• What data did you access, how did you find it?
• Any important/helpful data you couldn’t find or access?
• When did you start, and finish?
• What theoretical frameworks did you explicitly use for this research? Summarize the relevant proposal material, but don’t repeat it all.
• What analysis methods and techniques did you use? Cost analysis, market projections, etc.
• The goal is to show that your process and method makes sense and is valid (that is, you did all that was needed).
This section should be quite short.
3. .. What was found (Findings)
• State at least three important findings. State your finding first in 6-10 words, then explain in more detail.
• For each finding, how confident you are of your findings based on data and analysis? Some things we are confident of, some we are not sure. Don’t write as if everything is certain.
• For each finding, are there other alternate ways that the same data or analysis could be interpreted? This is important. Sometimes we get an idea in our head and that is all we can see – when reality is actually more complex.
• Some sense of urgency- does this need action or a decision now, in a month, or maybe next year? That is, what is your action plan – see below in Action alternatives.
4. Action alternatives (Analysis and Conclusion)
• Three action alternatives to address the problem/opportunity. That is, there is always more than one way to do something. See comments below on Scope.
• Scope: 1 alternative is low effort, 2nd is medium effort, 3rd is major effort and major cost.
• 2-3 advantages and disadvantages for each action alternative.
• Costs and benefits of each, in dollars, not just adjectives – with explanation of how you got these figures. How accurate do you think they are? Is there a return on investment?
• Short- and long-term consequences/benefits of each alternative chosen. One alternative may have good short-term benefits but poor long-term benefits, and another might have poor shortterm benefits and high initial costs, but much better long-term benefits and savings.
• Sensitivity/risk of each alternative to uncontrollable external factors: recession, newer technology, competition, market changes, etc.
5. Recommendation(s)
• Explain what the executive reader should do now, immediately, once finished reading the report. Keep this practical and “do-able,” explain how to do it.
• The recommendations must be clear and specific. DETAIL! So, a recommendation that a company must “improve its marketing” is completely inappropriate and unhelpful.
• Maybe provide a timeline plan supporting the recommendations in an appendix.
• Cost – Two big questions will be – “What is this going to cost?” and “Will we get a return on our investment?” Have an answer.
6. Bibliography/References and any Appendices
• List all your references and data sources – use APA referencing style.
• Put additional information in an appendix. For example, large tables of data, etc.
Writing a report is an art and it is hard work. Start early.
Marking Criteria
The rubric below provides the marking criteria for the Business Research Report.
Note that your research report must follow your research proposal. You cannot receive a good grade if your report ignores your proposal. And if you depart from your research proposal – for this happens sometimes, you must explain why.
0 → 40 50 → 70 80 → 100 Quality of writing (20%)
Not in logical order, sentences not connected, errors and incomplete statements
Order and connection are
OK, simple and understandable
Very clear, concise and to the point, grammatically correct, good logical flow Quality of the research process and analysis (50%)
No clear method, analysis is vague and unsubstantiated, no
mention of assumptions, did not follow their research
proposal
A work in progress, some good analysis, some bad,
some assumptions – overall messy and little evidence of
mastery, some alignment with research proposal
Research process is methodical and careful, analysis is thorough and accurate, assumptions are clearly stated, follows well the research proposal/deviations clearly noted.
Quality of conclusion and recommendations (30%)
Conclusions seem to have little or no connection with the
analysis, recommendations are unclear and unworkable
Some conclusions make sense, others do not,
recommendations not well connected with action
alternatives, and still not so
specific or clear
Conclusions follow naturally from the methodology and
findings (analysis),
recommendations are
sensible and able to be implemented
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