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"Reflection is the key that opens the door to understanding ourselves in relation to core ethical values" (Beland, 2003, p.15). Indeed, reflective thinking is very important since it helps us to critically evaluate our own behaviour and behaviour of others. Being able to critically think and reflect on our work enables us to gain self-knowledge, to demonstrate our understanding of learning progress and take on the perspective of others. However, reflective thinking is most important in identifying the ways of problem-solving. By stepping back and reflecting on our experiences, we are able to think how to solve the problems, choose apropriate strategies and consider consequences of actions.
The process of writing the Applied Management Project (AMP) has also incorporated various components to prompt my reflective thinking. It provided me with an opportunity to gain further insights from my own work through deeper reflection on my research and writing experiences. Thus, the following paper is structured to produce the critical evaluation of my own learning. It is a recollection of my own experiences during the process which I was engaged in producing AMP towards the completion of MSc. This major piece of individual work was structured to address appropriate strategies for corporate managers that would guide them on how to sell to the developing countries while at the same time reducing poverty rate. For this purpose, I was required to conduct, analyse and present.. by employing sound research methods to generate a 12,000 word research project report. Thus, the following report looks back on my thoughts and feelings, including mistakes and achievements. It also identifies successful aspects of the experience that might be usefully applied in the future and points out the lessons I should adopt in the long run. By the end of this report, I hope to be able to improve my future performance as an individual or as a member of the group.
Recollection of Experiences
Since the aim of AMP was structured to explore how multinational companies can become involved in the pursuit of poverty reduction while selling to the poor, it was necessarry to obtain a strong understanding about the issue at hand. For this purpose, an in depth review of the literature was undertaken to present a thorough analysis of the key elements involved in serving the poor. As such, the following section of the report recalls the development and key stages in search for the in-depth literature.
Development of Literature Review
One of the most important and crucial things that proceeded writing a report was to precisely define the problem I wished to address. Thus, I started off by establishing a mission statement that guided me throughout the whole process. Having a purpose for my literature review helped me narrow the scope of what I needed to look out for when I was researching. Once the problem was defined, my literature review involved two stages: the research process and writing process.
I started my research process by brainstorming ideas for my subject at hand. I determined the questions I was attempting to answer and scanned the articles which helped me refine the topic. Using keywords from abstracts and descriptors, I performed a broad and general survey to orient myself to the field, to find out the main theories, the key scholars, and their principal publications. This pointed me to the key studies I should read. Thus, a more detailed, selective list of books, journals and articles was narrowed down as most relevant.
Only secondary research was employed in the AMP which involved processing data from previous studies and findings in order to come to conclusion. The secondary research was undertaken through to focus on a deeper and more insightful level of investigation of certain areas, such as BOP proposition, buyer behaviour, marketing strategies and others. It was important to conduct secondary data as it played a substantial role in the exploratory phase of the research when the task at hand is to provide recommendations for improvement. The assembly and analysis of secondary data almost invariably improved my understanding of the topic problem.
Note taking was essential with a long assignment of this nature. In order to concentrate on and understanding the information I was reading, summarising the ideas and arguments were necessarry. Thus, I used a sytem of grouping notes in categories such as theories, findings, opposing views and other aspects of the topic. This approach allowed me to focus on the points relevant to my purpose. A track of notes of all the references I wanted to use, including a detailed bibliography, was also kept.
Such well-organised notes made the writing process much more efficient. It made it easier to analyse and evaluate the information and to synthesize it to find patterns, connections and trends. Note taking was essential to provide me with the necessary evidence to inform and develop the argument. Thus, I tried to manage my notes from the start of my research to the editing of the final version of the project.
Evaluation of Literature Review
The sources used in my report were carefully chosen based on their relevancy. Indeed, it was very important to focus on the relevancy of the relevant material used otherwise this could decrease the credibility of the paper. As such, evaluation of literature was essential thus, author's credentials, expertise, date of publication, reputation of the publisher and other evaluating material points were taken into consideration.
The literature review spanned the body of journals, abstracts, books, websites and references from articles across the works of business approach towards poverty alleviation. Peer-reviewed journals served as the main adequate sopport material for my report. These articles reviewed by experts in the field provided me with more in-depth studies and explorations. The availability of journals online helped me greatly with my report, as they were easily searchable. However, it was quite difficult to select the most reliable ones as a great deal of irrelevant and incorrect material can be found online. Thus, the advice from library staff was taken on how to access relevant material in a variety of formats. They advised me to avoid using particular websites where the information provided was not based on the reliable and veracious sources. I also tried to avoid newspapers, magazines and non-peer reviewed journals.
2.1.2. Writing Process
Writing process included couple of stages. Brainstorming was the first stage to get me started. Using notes I noted down the ideas, wrote sub-topics I wanted to include in my report. I then wrote down these ideas without concern for conventions. Drafting was the preliminary stage of my written work where I did not think about word-count, grammar or spelling; some of the sentences did not even fit too well. At this stage I also organized the layers of subheadings. I selected notes to each section, arranged them according to themes, types of literature, main findings, contrasting perspectives. Using subheads to guide the organization made it easier to write and to follow.
Revision was another important step in the process of writing where I reviewed, altered and amended the information from the draft. At the editing stage I removed sections, rewrote paragraphs and added in information. When adding, I tried to take into account what the reader would want to hear and presented only points directly relevant to the review's focus. In many cases, I needed to rearrange my sections for the report to flow better. Finally, I produced the final report.
Throughout the whole report I tried to use clear topic sentences and transitions to help the reader follow ideas. I also used summary sentences in each section that underscores the significance of what I had synthesized. Finally, I summarized main points for the topic, by pointing out existing gaps and directions for future research and practice.
In order to boost my performance and to deliver the report on time, management of my time was of a great importance. Thus, a number of activities needed to be set. These included strategies such as planning, allocating, setting goals, analysis of my time spent, organising and prioritizing. I started off by making a list of everything I wanted to do regarding report writing. Such list included things like background reading, additional research, samples of other dissertations and other key elements that helped me to enhance my report sufficiency. I reviewed the list and prioritised the work that needed to be done first. Using a calendar, I then tried to ensure that my research effort is aligned with the way in which my dissertation would be structured. To do this, I drew a typical week's timetable on a large sheet of paper, on which I wrote down my activities and other regular commitments such as part-time work and regular social events. When drawing timetable, I took into account of the time and place I was best to get on with my work. I also mapped out a timetable of sub-tasks and assignment deadlines.
Personal Feelings and Learning from Experience
The Applied Management Project has demonstrated my abilities to use the knowledge and skills that I learned during the course. I was contsantly required to combine knowledge and increase my understanding in a variety of ways. In particular, in search for literature allowed me to gain appreciation for the practical applications of knowledge. By stepping outside my classroom, I was able to learn about the theories, tools, resources, and ethical issues that scholars and professionals encounter on a daily basis. In addition, I learned how to formulate questions, design plans to find answers, collect and analyze data, produce creative solutions, and share my findings with others. Most importantly, it made me an informed consumer, so that now I will be able to evaluate the information presented and make informed decisions about business approach towards poverty reduction.
Nevertheless, since there was an abundance of literature available, it was hard to select which information to use. I felt confused and was not sure which direction to take. I felt demotivated and was not interested in continuing with the report. Fortunately, I received a great support from group members. They gave me a friendly advise on the issue at hand which clarified my doubts and confusion.
I also felt quite anxious at times working effectively in time constrained situation like this. For such a major undertaking, it was essential that I manage my time well throghout the whole process of writing. Thus, organizing my activities in a sequence that best utilized my time was critical. With the help of previously mentioned calendar, I managed to meet the deadline. I also tried to make sure that I got a reasonable number of study sessions in each week however at times, it was quite dificult to study accordingly to my plan. Unexpected social events made it â€¦ However, I tried to use every trick ro persuade myself to stay committed to my plan.
Group Dynamics and Learning from Experience
Not only did the Applied Mangement Project enabled my adaptation of appropriate methods for the unique focus of this project and enhanced my individual creativity, but it also gave me an advantage of working in a diverse group. Throughout the year of the Master's course I experienced many benefits the multi-cultural group can bring, thus, I was extremely happy to work as part of a group this time.
Our group started off using what we learned of core values and creating the main goal to help guide us through the project. We established a set of values and mission statement during our first meeting. This helped us to remain motivated and stay on task. Group discussions involed everyone's active participation which was a very effective learning method for all of us. All of us shared experiences and feedback, pooled ideas, generated insights, and developed an arena for analysis of experiences. This approach allowed for the utilization of the different skills, knowledge and experiences that team members had. As such, a great diversity of ideas were developed and I found the energy of the group participation made me feel even more energetic about contributing to a team. Thus, I tried to share all the relevant information I found about the project. My input was well aknowledged by others and I felt appreciated. In fact, each of us kept updated each other about the changes thruoghout the whole process, which led to a greater understanding of the topic about poverty reduction.
Since we were working together for a week only, we did not encounter any big arguments or problems. Some debates however occured whenâ€¦. We worked all together to clearly defined the problem, tried to thoroughly explore and understand what is expected from us. Some of us collected additional information and analyzed it to understand what to do further. Such group dynamics helped in clarifying doubts, confusions and misconceptions. In particular, this task gave us an opportunity to connect with the staff at the University of Bedfordshire. They were very helpful in directing us what we should include in our reports.
It was amazing the amount of friendship was created in our team. Many times team members went extreme lengths to help each other. Everyone knew they can rely on each others support and encouragement. Such mutual trust facilitated through open, honest and collaborative environment.All in all, working together was extremely important to the success of my indivdual work. I received so much advice, support, new ideas that helped to enhance my report and improve effectiveness.
Lessons for Future
The skills and knowledge gained during the Applied Management Project can be usefully applied on my future projects. Research skills â€¦along with group work will make me achieve my future goals.
Nevertheless, I have not sufficiently learned how to manage my time. Thus, develop good study habits and time management skills without procratinating would be my next step to improving my performance. During this assignment I learned that I need to make more careful and effective use of my time than ever before. I was responsible for planning and organising my work - and therefore responsible for managing my own time. And even though it offered me a good opportunity for developing this skill as well as providing a new challenge, I found myself distracted from it many times. Therefore, in future I will try to concentrate on the important elements of my tasks and stop working frantically with no accomplishments. I believe that finishing my essential tasks as they arise can prevent a tremendous loss of time and help me to stop procrastinating.
Next time, I would also start preparing as soon as I receive the task. When I give myself enough time to plan effectively, I will save time and avoid stress. Therefore, proper scheduling, planning, deciding on objectives, looking at the components of the task and sorting out the different skills will be key elements of report writing.
Finally, even though I achieved a successful outcome, but to improve my achievement for future, I perhaps would need a supervisor or mentor to help encourage and advice me.
The Applied Management Project gave me the opportunity to demonstrate my knowledge and constantly stimulated the environment where I was able to use my understanding in different areas. During its process I went through many thoughts and feelings which this reflective report was aimed to explore. It looked back at my experiences of mistakes as well as successful aspects that migh be usefully applied in the future. Indeed, reflecting on and learning from this experience, including my mistakes, will help me to avoid repeated mistakes and, at the same time, identify successful aspects of an experience and principles which might usefully be applied to other situations. Reflection has provided the opportunity to make sense of and learn from any experience and handle similar situations appropriately another time. For instance, â€¦It gave me the chance to explore thoughts and feelings, work through difficult or painful experiences, develop self awareness and fresh insights.
Indeed, reflection on my own experience help you to make links between theory and practice, integrate new knowledge with previous knowledge and develop your understanding. I believe that
It prepared me for the world beyond university by honing my independent thinking and creativity, time-management and budget skills, and confidence in my academic and career goals. This knowledge is fundamental to my future, which I attempt to continually develop and reflect.