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Research Guides

Master in Business Administration (MBA)

Welcome to the MBA program! This research guide will help get you started in your business research.

Research Process & Background Information

Business research requires persistence and creativity...

Proprietary information may not be available (e.g. business models, organizational charts, supply chains, production costs, or market shares) . Finding related, relevant information and tying it together to make inferences about your information need is a skill that can be developed.

Start with library databases, trade publications, and company or government websites.


Form a search strategy:

  1. Identify the type of information you need. Links to library resources provided below:

  2. Identify and search in library Business Databases (and linked above)

  3. Search for freely available information. What resources might have this kind of information? ("Who cares about this?"):

    • Company Website
    • Trade/Industry organization
    • Trade/Industry magazine (online or in Business Source Premier)
    • Government sources
  4. Go directly to company, organizational, and governmental websites. Why? Google searches a small fraction of what's on the Web. (Learn about the Deep (Invisible) Web.)


Refine your search skills:

  • Search for exact phrases, when appropriate, by using quotation marks e.g. "organizational leadership skills"
  • Revise your search terms

    • What are similar (synonym) words that describe what you are looking for?
      • Try several searches using different combinations of these synonyms
    • Are you looking too narrowly? Try searching on a broader industry category such as those used for NAICS Codes from the US Census Bureau
    • What is a similar company, product, or marketing strategy on which you can find information? Use what you find for leads to other resources or to make inferences.
  • Library database searches:

    • Use the asterisk "*" to search for all alternate endings of a word (supported by most databases) e.g. manag* (will return management, manager, managed, etc)
    • Use the filter features to the left of your search results list (One can limit to just "Trade Publications" or to certain years.)
    • Search by NAICS Code
    • Contact a librarian for more tips!
  • Google search

It all begins with a thought...start at the top of this Mind Map and follow the information process to the original source. Types of research resources are listed for each step of the way.

The left side shows how researchers go through a similar process before conducting an original research study.

What is corporate social performance?

How is it measured?

What are additional search terms related to this topic?

Use online reference resources such as encyclopedias and handbooks for quick, authoritative topic overviews.

Sample search for "organizational structure" entries in reference books

Getting background information on your topic can help you to:

  • Find original research and experts on the topic

  • Find alternate terms and synonyms to use as search terms

  • Find related or more specific topics on which to focus your research

Web searching and academic reference resources provide background information.

The ebooks below are a great place to start.

Click on the green "Hamline Access" link and log in using your Hamline computer credentials.

You probably already have favorite business news resources such as the following:

Some of these require a subscription payment in order to see all of the content.

Bush Library has subscription access to complete, current content from the following: