Impact of the Social Engagement Project on the 2013 full-time MBA cohort of the University of Stellenbosch Business School

Engelbrecht, Johan (2015-04)

Thesis (MBA)--Stellenbosch University, 2015.


ENGLISH ABSTRACT: The University of Stellenbosch Business School integrates environmental, social responsibility and corporate governance teaching in all its MBA courses. In 2012, it also introduced a stand-alone course, Business in Society, to improve students‟ knowledge of these topics and improve their decision-making ability. To enhance the course further, a social engagement project was piloted with the 2013 full-time cohort. The aim of the research paper is to determine the impact that the Social Engagement Project had on the participating students and to make recommendations for improving future engagements. The research method employed was content analysis of the reflective essays that the students wrote on assessing the course. Only essays for which permission was obtained from the students were used in the research. The success of the engagement in terms of experiential learning was firstly determined in relation to the Kolb learning cycle and literature regarding specifically service-learning. The impact on the students was then measured against Bloom‟s taxonomy, specifically focusing on the affective domain. Lastly, the effect the theory of planned behaviour was used to determine the influence the engagement had on the behavioural intentions of the students. From the content analysis it was determined that as an experiential learning engagement the project was a success In terms of Bloom‟s affective learning domain the learning dimension achieved by most students was the organisation dimension. Considering the limited duration of the course, this can be deemed a success. Two of the three independent determinants in the theory of planned behaviour that could be analysed, namely perceived behavioural control and attitude towards behaviour, were both positively influenced by the engagement. From a theoretical point of view, the Social Engagement Project could therefore be deemed a success. Areas for improvement that were however identified relate to students original motivations for choosing their projects that were not met. The main reason for this was very high initial expectations that were never congruent with the time available for projects. This factor can have a negative effect on the future behavioural intentions of the students, and the writer therefore proposes that the expectations of students be managed in order to obviate these shortcomings. The analysis of student recommendations revealed three main themes requiring attention, i.e. appropriate project identification, better time allocation, and improved support from faculty. Using these themes and the information learnt from the content analysis, final recommendations were made.

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