By now you all should have solidified your paper topics. Here I will reiterate the goals of the assignment while adding some explanation and detail. The thesis/outline/sources assignment will be explained in a separate document. The first section of this document pertains to the standard assignment, but sections 2-4 apply to both standard and alternative assignments.
1. Global Actor / World Region
The main objective of this project is to learn how public, private or non-governmental actors with ‘global reach’ frame and implement strategy in a distant world region. Your assignment is to craft an argument about (a) how the region is effectively ‘mapped’ (i.e. conceptualized) by a global actor, and then (b) how this actor tangibly and practically works to implement its strategy in a selected region outside of its origin/base region.
This project is designed to complement the course text material so you learn about world regions by applying the lens of a specific actor to making sense of a region (e.g., the EU’s perspective on Africa). This is a very different lens in comparison to that applied by the course text authors who are trying to be broad, general, integrative, and unbiased.
How a Region Is Conceptualized
The idea of a global actor “mapping” a region can seem a little confusing. You can think of it as how the actor makes sense of the region and its components, and what sort of meaning or importance it sees in the region. You can think about scale: Does the actor see the region as a single entity with common traits/problems/opportunities? Does the actor see it as a collection of nation-states? Does it focus more on the city or village scale? Does it recognize a lot of diversity within the region, or use the same approach everywhere? What characteristics are the most important to the actor when it analyzes this region? How does it target locations for its engagement with the region? How would the actor describe the region (e.g. helpless, pristine, unstable, an untapped market, a source of labor, threatened or vulnerable, violent, friendly, wealthy, exotic, etc.)?
See UNESCO, for example, which has defined a number of world regions somewhat differently from our course text. Or see the case of Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), which chooses where to work this way – they focus on “catastrophic events” – such as armed conflict, epidemics, malnutrition, or natural disasters that overwhelm local health systems, and generate a map like this one:
How a Strategy Is Implemented
You also need to focus on how your adopted global actor attempts to implement its strategy in a single world region. For example, some actors will establish a regional headquarters in select world regions and use this as a base for their operations in the region. Other actors use joint ventures with regional actors – they work through a regional actor that has the connections and knowledge, to be effective in the region. There are many approaches to implementing strategy in a world region. Your task is to determine the approach(es) used by the actor and see how the actor really operates in a world region beyond its region of origin.
Your case studies will enable you to assess how the global actor tangibly gets things done on the ground in the world region you are focusing on. This means being aware of why and where, for example, Coca Cola produces its product in select parts of Africa, or why Google places its Research & Development units in Zurich and its key lobbying unit in Brussels. Students working alone should have 1-2 case studies at the very most, but students working together will likely have more.
2. Assessment of Papers
Your paper will be assessed using the rubric to the right. The total points add up to 100, so the number next to each criterion shows the % weight.
Note that the single most important criterion is that you have a good balance of description AND ANALYSIS. This is why it is imperative that your paper is structured around an original argument laid out in the introduction, and justified by the body of the paper (and your case study). Some people like to think of analysis as the answering “why” questions.
When we ask for a sophisticated understanding of the region, this should only be in ways that are relevant to your topic. (E.g. do not go into depth about a region’s tectonic activity or linguistic groups if these have nothing to do with your actor’s work!)
Make sure that you use your case study as evidence for your main arguments. Do not let the case study take over your entire paper, at the expense of your broader argument.
Sources to Use
There is not a strictly defined number of sources that you need to use, but the most effective essays tend to use at least ten. The assortment of sources you use will depend on your individual project. You will all end up using some information directly from your actor (especially when researching your case studies), but it is very important that you do not rely too much on your chosen actor’s own information, which, of course, will be biased. Additionally, almost all of you should be able to integrate some academic sources (scholarly books or peer-reviewed academic journal articles) into your paper. Check with us if you are not sure whether you have found sources that qualify as academic sources.
First, you should not only rely on Google for information. Take advantage of the truly excellent library system (and librarians) we have on campus. The most appropriate librarians are those working in the Geography Library, the Business School Library, and Memorial Library. Students working on health-oriented topics should also consider Ebling Library.
Second, explore the amazing databases we have access to at the tips of our fingers! Dig around and search by keyword(s). Two excellent social sciences/sciences data base are the Web of Knowledge/Science, and Proquest Research Library. Ask the librarians if you are not sure how to find or use these databases.
Third, if your actor is a firm, the Business School librarian had this to say about data bases:
Hi, the best database for company information is OneSource. Factiva has the most international newspapers and magazines. It can be accessed from anywhere but only three people can be in it at one time. Other article databases with company news would be ABI/Inform and Business Source Premier. Business Monitor International may also be useful – it has excellent quarterly reports on certain industries in all countries. And my International Business research guide is organized by country and has links to many other resources: http://researchguides.library.wisc.edu/intbusines
Fourth, a very good newspaper database is LexisNexis, which the Library subscribes to.
4. Paper Guidelines
Length & Formatting
- One person, they should be 5-8 single spaced pages (NOT including large graphics and references)
- Note: Syllabus says 6-8, but 5 single-spaced pages is okay!
- Two people, 8-10 single spaced pages (NOT including large graphics and references).
- Three people, 10-14 single spaced pages (NOT including large graphics and references).
- Four people, 12-16 single spaced pages (NOT including large graphics and references).
Please note that the length does not proportionally rise as group size expands because the process of coordinating research and co-authorship takes some extra time to do well. Don’t worry if you are a little above or below these page length guidelines…in the end it is the quality of the content that matters, not minor issues like length. Don’t pad/fluff up at the last minute as it rarely ever helps improve the quality of a paper.
Use 12-point font, Times New Roman, and 1” margins.
You have flexibility in how you structure your paper, but here’s a common rough outline:
Introduction (lay some context; outline thesis statement; state your key findings)
- Background about actor and relevant information about the region
- Body: Main points about actor’s engagement with region, including case study, and your analysis of the actor’s engagement (*Case studies tend to be ~40-50% of paper)
- Conclusion (revisit your research questions/thesis statement and highlight your main findings)
- Works Cited
In contrast to your discussion posts, please use formal citations in these papers. Please use APA format for your parenthetical citations and works cited section. Though you may not be used to this system, it is the most common citation style for social science papers and important to learn. You can find details about APA format here:
https://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/560/01/ (see menu on the left-hand side)
It is imperative that you attribute your sources for data and ideas, and always use quotation marks when you are directly quoting a source using the same words. Failure to do either of these counts as plagiarism, and is a serious offense.
Please review these resources to learn more about avoiding plagiarism and effectively quoting sources: