To What Extent would Business Students Apply Relevant Business & Management Theories in their Undergraduate ProjectsAbstractThis paper investigates the extent to which business students apply relevant business and management theories in their undergraduate programs. Based on views collected from 198 third year students in a UK university who responded to a structured questionnaire, it was found that although a significant number of students are willing to ‘go the full hog’ in applying relevant B& M theories, their motivation is usually based on the need to attain good grades, rather than their conviction that the theories are relevant to real-world situations. IntroductionBusiness and management theories have been blamed for some failures and successes witnessed in the corporate world.
As far back as 1953, Keynes (1953, p. 306) [cited by Ghoshal 2005, p. 75)] observed that “it is ideas not vested interests, which are dangerous for good or evil”. In other words, Keynes was explicitly saying that theories have an impact on how businesses are run since the same business leaders acquire the theoretical knowledge during their course work in college. Away from the business world, it is worth noting that college education usually prepares students for the “real” corporate world by instilling in them knowledge that is meant to produce “active wisdom” (Tan, 2007, p.
205). This then means that a lot of theories are taught in school, and whether students apply them in future remains a positive guess to many; after all, and as Keynes (1953, p. 306), cited by Ghoshal (2005, p. 75) states, even “practical men, who believe themselves to be quite exempt from any intellectual influences are usually the slaves of some defunct economist. ..”.
Such a statement could be interpreted to mean that whether knowingly or unknowingly, business and management graduates (among other graduates who acquire theoretical knowledge) usually apply the same theories learnt in school at work. Assuming that this assertion is true, and considering that the undergraduate research project is the first chance that students have to apply theoretical knowledge attained in class to real life situations, this research will seek to find out if indeed business students apply theories learnt in class in their research projects. This research will work on two hypotheses as indicated below: Hypothesis 1: A high application of relevant business and management theories in the undergraduate project is an indication that students have confidence in the same theories, and are therefore more likely to use them after graduation. Hypothesis 2: Low application of relevant business and management theories in the undergraduate project is an indication that students have little or no confidence in the same theories, and are therefore more likely to disregard them later in their careers.
The value of this project is pegged on the fact that the findings will serve as an indication as to whether student consider B& M theories as being relevant in their future careers.
Ideally, undergraduate projects are conducted for purposes of meeting four objectives as indicated by I’Anson and Smith (2004) and Hussey and Hussey (1997). They are: Equipping students with analytical problem-solving skills; Enhancing the students’ abilities to learn actively through identifying a problem exploring it, and finding or suggesting viable solutions; Developing the students’ skills to conduct independent research; andApplying academic knowledge to real-life experiences.