Glyndwr Jones Senior Lecturer Department of Strategic Management & Leadership (SML) Waikato Management School University of Waikato Hamilton New Zealand
R.A.W Read, Analyze and Write:How to write good assignments
The Purpose To provide students with the tools to write good essays To give students the opportunity to apply the tools and develop their writing skills
Some advice Start as soon as you get the assignment. Good writing takes lots of time, effort and practice. Read the marking schedule attached to the paper outline before you start writing. Ask yourself; have I met the criteria set out in the Marking Schedule? Seek help from your tutor early. You cannot expect a warm welcome the day before the essay is due!
Step one. Read and understand the questionFor example: Critically discuss the value of Vroom’s Expectancy theory of motivation for a line-manager
(cont) Circle the key words in the question Critically discuss the value of Vroom’s Theory of motivation for a line-manager.
Highlight Key Words Vroom’s Vroom’sTheory of Theory ofmotivationmotivation Concept of Concept of Value Value Line- Line- Manager Manager
Step two. Think about the question What am I being asked? What is this questioner getting at? What aspects of the topic am I going to explore? What is my ‘angle’ or line of argument?
Big hint! What is the lecturer really looking for? He wants you to be critical To be questioning Do not assume anything, that is that the lecturer knows about Vroom Do not simply describe everything Reach your own conclusion based on your research.
Analyzing the question Use a questioning approach What? Why? How? Where? When? Implications? For whom?
(cont) e.g What is Vroom’s theory? Why is it important? When is it used? Where is it used? How does it work? What are the implications of using a ‘contingency’ approach? For whom?
Step three: Analysis time Searching for information Search online for information using the data-bases. Do not ‘cut and paste’ ; Turnitin.com plagarism software.
(cont) You have identified relevant sources (journal articles, papers etc) on Vroom’s theory of motivation. Now you have to decide: What direction or angle are you going to take? What are the main issues you are going to discuss?
Step four. Writing timeIntroducing your topic The reader needs to have a clear sense of where you are taking him or her You need a short opening paragraph which ‘sets the scene’ and gets your reader interested
Your Introductory Paragraph: An Example Peter Drucker claims that ‘the management of employee performance is the most critical role of any manager.’(Drucker l997). As the job of managing has become more complicated, so too has the task of assessing individual performance. Traditional methods of appraising employee performance have been found wanting leading to a search for more effective, comprehensive and sophisticated methods. One approach that attracted considerable attention in the HRM literature in the l990s was 360 degree performance appraisal. This essay examines this approach to assessing and developing employee performance.
(cont) Your second paragraph ‘maps out’ the route you are going to take, clearly ‘sign-posting’ your direction. Each ‘sign-post’ will appear in your essay as a paragraph theme. The reader should recognize the ‘sign-post’ at the start of your discussion of the theme.
Paragraph Two: Your Road Map and ‘Sign-Posts’: An Example e.g. ‘This essay examines the value of Vroom’s theory of motivation for a line manager. It does this by briefly discussing the core elements of Vroom’s model. The essay then reviews the research on Vroom’s model identifying its strengths and weaknesses. It then goes on to discuss the implications of the model for practicing managers, in particular as a basis for Pay-for-Performance. Finally, an example of an application of Vroom’s model is examined.’
Developing your themes Each paragraph should: Deal with one separate theme or issue Be a specific link to theory or concepts Begin with a topic sentence that defines the issue to be discussed e.g. ‘However in practice it is often difficult to operate a Pay for Performance system because…’
Make your writing flow . . Write fluent paragraph starters In relationship to …. Firstly …. Another issue …. Conversely … On the other hand …. Consequently ….
Summarize When you have reached the end of a discussion on a theme e.g. research on the application of Vroom’s model, ‘pull it together’, summarize before moving on to your next theme. If you do not have a plan or structure for your essay, you will not know what theme to discuss next! A summary is not a conclusion. That comes later.
(cont) An example In summary, 360 degree performance appraisal arose as a response to the limitations of traditional approaches to performance appraisal. It sets out to get feedback on an employee’s performance ‘from all points of the compass.’ The essay now goes on to look at the research on 360 degree performance appraisal.’
Your conclusion A conclusion is NOT simply the end of your essay; it is where you tell the reader what conclusion you have reached, where you now stand on the issue It is where you make your position clear. It is where you show whether you agree, disagree or are undecided by the evidence you have considered.
The final touches Spell Check and proof read your assignment Give your draft essay to a friend or member of your family. Can he or she understand without asking ‘What do you mean here?’ If you have to keep clarifying, ask why? Then make the changes Put your essay aside for a few days, then read it again & make any changes. The chances are you will spot errors.
The complete processRead, analyse and understand thequestionUse the questioning methodSearch for informationDecide on your angle and themesWrite your essay following the structureyou have developed.
cont.Your essay structure will include: An introduction and ‘sign-posting’ paragraph The body of your discussion Arguments for and against Summaries Conclusion Reference list Appendix
APA REFERENCING IN TEXT REFERENCING e.g. In text referencingBrown (1998) and Mullins (1999) both concludethat there is little consensus about the definitionof ‘organisational culture’.
APA REFERENCING Secondary citation “secondary” citationA popular definition of organisational culture isoffered by Bower (as cited in Deal & Kennedy,1982) who states that it is “the way things aredone around here” (p.4).
APA REFERENCING Direct quote Page number only required for direct quotesA popular definition of organisational culture isoffered by Bower (as cited in Deal & Kennedy,1982) who states that it is “the way things aredone around here” (p.4).
APA REFERENCING Direct Quote Direct quote is NOT to be paraphrased Leadership, “the process of influencing people and providing an environment for them to achieve team or organizational objectives.” (McShane & Travaglione, 2003, p. 466)
APA REFERENCING Two author citation Two author citation used as part of the narrative text: note that “and” is spelled out here Robbins and Barnwell (1998) uncover a central theme that encompasses both extremes of organizational culture discussed: that organizational culture refers to ………
APA REFERENCING Two author citation Two authors linked by “&” when citation is NOT part of the text In this essay, it is argued that the management of organizational culture is an essential, yet difficult task confronting mangers (Davidson & Griffin, 2000).
APA REFERENCING Two author citation Innovative cultures has less formalized rules and procedures, with power and decision making shared throughout the organization (Heck & Marcoulides, 1996, as cited in Detert, Mauriel & Schroeder, 2000). “Secondary” citation; here the student read Detert et al. who spoke about Heck & Macoulides; note Detert et al. appear in the reference list
APA REFERENCING Two author citation “Secondary” citation used as part of the text Guy (1990, as cited in Sims & Keon, 1999) suggests that the ethical judgements of employees reflect the norms of the organization.
APA REFERENCING Multiple citationsThis creates a common understanding amongmembers as to what the organization is, and guidesits members on how they should behave bydefining appropriate attitudes and behaviours(Detert, Maurial & Schroeder, 2000;Mallinger &Rizescu, 2001; Mullins, 1999; Robbins & Barnewell,1998). Multiple citations (several different sources saying the same thing); ordered alphabetically by first author’s name
APA REFERENCING If 3, 4 or 5 authors, all authors names in first Multiple citations citation, thereafter first author only “et al.” e.g., Robbins et al, 2000There are a number of ways in which newmembers might learn the organization’sunique culture (Robbins, Bergman, Stagg, &Coulter, 2000).
APA REFERENCING Multiple citations These involve a variety of socialisation methods, both formal and informal, which is how new members collectively learn behaviours and concepts that make up the organization’s culture (Brown, 1998; Wood et al., 2000) Wood et al. for all citations as this source has 6 or more authors
APA REFERENCING Multiple citations Two author citation – cite BOTH authors EVERY timeSeveral authors (e.g., Brown, 1998;Robbins & Barnwell, 1998) recognize formalmethods of socialization, such as inductionand training, as the best opportunitymanagers have to directly influence the newmembers perception of the organizationsculture.
REFERENCE LIST All references Alphabetical order listed in alphabetical order by first author’s nameMullins, L. J. (1999). Management andorganisational behaviour (5th ed.).London: Financial Times Pitman.Robbins, S. P., & Barnwell, N. (1998).Organisational theory: Concepts andcases (3rd ed.).
REFERENCE LIST Book, second edition, one authorBrown, A. D. (1998). Organisational Culture (2nd ed.). Great Britain: FinancialTimes Pitman.Indent from the second line onwards with all references
REFERENCE LIST Book Book, two authorsDeal, T. E., & Kennedy, A. A. (1982).Corporate cultures: The rites and rituals ofcorporate life. Reading, MA: Addison-Wesley.
REFERENCE LIST Online journal article, multiple authorsDetert, J. R., Mauriel, J. J., & Schroeder, R. G. (2000). A framework for linking culture and improvement initiatives in organizations. The Academy of Management Review, 25, 850-863. Abstract retrieved April 2, 2001 from ABI-Inform (Proquest) database. Abstract (summary only)
REFERENCE LIST Journal article, full textJohnson, G. (2000). Strategy through acultural lens: Learning from managers’experience. Management Learning, 31, 403-426.
REFERENCE LIST Credible websitesBaxley, D. J. (1996, March). Change management: The cultural formula for success. Enterprise Engineering. Retrieved March 19, 2001, from http://www.c3i.osd.mil/bpr/bprcd/5315.htm
REFERENCE LIST Online JournalsHendrickson, L., & Tuttle, D. (1997). Dynamicmanagement of the environmentalenterprise: A qualitative analysis. Journal ofOrganizational Change Management,10(4),855-862. Retrieved September 7, 2001 fromEmerald database.
REFERENCE LIST Nonperiodical documents on the Internet If no author, begin Stand-alone reference with title of document, no author document identified, no dateGVUs 8th WWW user survey. (n.d.). Retrieved August 8, 2000, fromhttp://www.cc.gatech.edu/gvu/usersurveys/survey1997-10/
Warning: dangerous habits! Simply describing everything in your essay Simply describing what is already in your text. Worse, cutting and pasting from the text. Getting sidetracked into discussing all theories of motivation instead of Vroom’s.
Some past OB assignment questions ‘Organizational behaviour is just applied commonsense.’ Critically discuss this statement drawing on research evidence. ‘ It is not possible to motivate an individual.’ Critically discuss the arguments for and against this statement drawing on appropriate literature. ‘Organization culture is not capable of being managed.’’ Critically discuss this statement drawing on appropriate research.