Amina was a diligent student who had worked very hard on her MBA. Her research had been
on the marketing strategies of UK main car dealerships in the wake of the trend for UK new
car buyers to import their vehicles from continental Europe. She had submitted her draft project report, and was awaiting the comments of her supervisor with quiet confidence. She anticipated that there would be some more work to do on the report, but she thought that this would
be minor amendments. She was sure that the main thrust of the report was fine. However, when
Amina went to see Dr Wang, her project advisor, she was disappointed to learn that he was not
impressed with what she had written. In fact Dr Wang told Amina that as it stood her report
was some way from MBA standard, and that if she wanted to obtain the degree she had a lot
of work to do to improve it.
Amina was taken aback to hear this news, but she listened carefully to Dr Wang’s explanation and made notes. His main criticism was that the report was too ‘rambling’ and insufficiently succinct. The context of the research was explained clearly. Indeed Dr Wang thought
that Amina had spent far too much time on her description of the UK retail motor market. Her
statement of the problem facing UK retail dealers was also clear. However, he was critical of
the way in which Amina had used the literature. He thought that there was far too much on the
car industry and too little on marketing theory. Dr Wang had emphasised to Amina in all their
meetings that her project was about how organisations develop their marketing strategies in the
light of unexpected competition. In that sense Amina’s project could be about any organisation
in any market. However, Amina’s interest in cars had dominated her consideration of the theory of marketing strategy.
Amina had conducted interviews with senior sales managers in a sample of dealerships representing the main manufacturers. She had explained how she did this, but there was little
about any alternative data collection methods that could have been pursued. Dr Wang was critical of this, but his main criticism concerned the final third of Amina’s report. In this she had
described the results of the interviews in great detail. But after this detailed presentation of the
findings were a mere two pages of conclusions. Even these were little more than a summary
of the findings.
Dr Wang thought Amina’s report was well written and very interesting, but not what was
needed for a successful MBA project report. His overall comment was that ‘it tells a very interesting story, Amina, but your job as a management Master’s degree student is to use theory to
help to explain and even solve management problems. Leave the storytelling to the business
At first Amina was bitterly disappointed, and she complained incessantly to the friends with
whom she shared an apartment about Dr Wang’s unfairness. However, as the days passed she
became more reflective – so much so that this was what she admitted to her friend Gisela:
‘I suppose I am to blame. The tutors told us that we should start the writing process early
and write separate sections on each aspect of the research, keeping in mind the purpose of each
aspect and ensuring that there was a logical flow to the report and it fitted together as a coherent whole. But I got so involved in the research interviews, and all the other course assignments, that there never seemed to be time to write. Then when the deadline approached I panicked and wrote the whole thing in less than a week, using days and nights. I can see now that
I should have built it up, read it and reread it and amended it, but I never had time.
‘I can also see what Dr Wang means about telling the story like a business journalist. That’s
much easier than academic work. It’s less rigorous. As long as it reads ok I suppose that’s all
there is to it.’
Oh well, back to it!
1 What did Dr Wang mean by ‘your job as a management Master’s degree student is to
use theory to help to explain and even solve management problems’?
2 How might Amina improve her findings section?
3 What do you think Amina has to do to get Dr Wang’s full approval for submission of her
MBA project for assessment?
4 How would you suggest Amina now approaches the rewriting of her report?