Factors contributing to the delay of MBA research reports at the University of Stellenbosch Business School : an exploratory study
Thesis (MBA)--Stellenbosch University, 2012.
The MBA programme at the USB comprises two main parts, namely coursework and a research report. Students need to successfully complete both in order to graduate; however, a percentage of students are unsuccessful in that they either a) fail to complete the coursework as well as the research report, or b) successfully complete the coursework but fail to complete the research report. Those in the first category manage to cut their losses by preventing further expenditure of resources; however, those in the second category risk failure after full investment of time and money. The USB has seen an increase in the number of students from the second category; it is an undesirable outcome which needs to be addressed at the institutional and individual level. This research report aims to assist the USB in gaining more insight into this problem, and in addressing it effectively. Since the students themselves are pivotal in the MBA research phase, the research for this report took the form of live, in-depth interviews with MBA students at the USB who have successfully completed their coursework, but have not submitted their research report. The semi-structured interviews were based on themes highlighted in the literature on academic non-completion and delay. The most prominent contributing factors identified, were: a) inadequate preparation for research, which impacted on self-efficacy, i.e. the student’s belief in his/her own research competence; b) student motivation levels, which are influenced by the lack of intrinsic motivation to study, and by perceiving the research report to be irrelevant to their goals; c) timing of topic choice, which some felt came too early and did not allow an informed choice, and which others felt came too late and reduced the research time; and d) the lack of structure and deadlines during the research phase, which was problematic given the students’ expressed need for external pressure to prioritise the research report. In the light of the above factors, suitable recommendations are made on how the USB could address the problem.