Master's Thesis


The Strategic Management Edge

UCLA Anderson Executive MBAs embark on a Strategic Management Research (SMR) project in lieu of the traditional master’s thesis. The requirement involves two parallel strategic objectives: one for companies and one for EMBA students.

For the partnering companies, the SMR presents an opportunity to envision the next stage of strategic planning as it is mapped by a group of experienced professionals. For EMBA students, SMR is an arena in which they deploy what they know and have learned to solve a real business problem and create an in-depth strategic plan that helps a real client.

Master Thesis EMBA

Anderson’s Strategic Management Research program gives organizations around the world the opportunity to engage a consulting team of five to six experienced professionals in their final year of study for the Executive MBA. The EMBA team represents a cross-section of business functions and specialties, such as marketing, finance, technology and operations. EMBA students have an average of 14 years of professional experience and collectively contribute an estimated 2,000 hours to the strategic plan for each company.

SMR is led and administered by individuals who have extensive experience managing field study programs in both academic and professional settings. The EMBA students and company representatives agree on a scope of work for a strategic business plan that typically involves:

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    Pinpointing business opportunities
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    Launching new products
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    Exploring new markets for existing products
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    Competitive analysis
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    Creating effective marketing campaigns
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    Risk assessment
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    Operational analysis
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    Improving managerial effectiveness
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    Financial modeling

The strategic plans incorporate financial, marketing, operational and strategic recommendations based on extensive primary and secondary research that the team will conduct. The plans can include an analysis of the organization's value proposition in relation to the competitive environment.

Faculty Advisors


World-renowned full-time research faculty guide students through the six-month SMR course and field study project. Experienced faculty advisors collaborate to provide EMBA students the educational experiences that enable them to develop and synthesize the knowledge and skills needed to address significant strategic challenges and lead complex organizations.

Daniel Nathanson

Faculty Advisor

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Terry Kramer

Adjunct Professor and Faculty Advisor

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Fred Hagigi

Adjunct Professor & Faculty Advisor

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