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Senior Capstone

"They laid a road map for what our long term vision is. Having 10 PSU business students work on our nonprofit for an entire term, we really got a ton out of it." - Shelley Darcy, Executive Director, Super Project Lab

In fall 2011, a new business capstone was developed for all undergraduate Business majors at Portland State. The course, Business Strategy: The Formulation and Implementation of Business/Organization Strategies, is the first capstone class offered by the School of Business, and students across all business disciplines will complete the six-credit course during their senior year.

For Students

The course is structured around interdisciplinary student teams working directly with a community partner. The student teams work to identify their partner organization’s strengths and weaknesses while developing a comprehensive written business plan. The purpose is for students with different business majors to work together to apply all of their business academic course work and test their core competencies in a real-world project with a real-world client. Students experience and respond to the same risks and uncertainties that their client faces on a daily basis under the guidance of the course instructor who has professional consulting experience.

For Community Partners

Community partners can be any type of organization in the Portland Metro area, from start-ups to non-profit agencies, needing thorough analysis to address important strategic issues. Small and emerging businesses can find the support they need at Portland State University. The Business Strategy Capstone is a way for business students from different majors to combine their knowledge and work together in the field with an external partner on pressing strategic issues. Students will conduct comprehensive analysis of an organization, its industry, competitors, and general environment, to inform viable strategic alternatives. Deliverables will range from a business plan to more targeted analyses such as a feasibility study for a new product or service.

The final weeks of the course will feature team presentations of their business plans, with the most compelling plans being selected for presentation to the external client.

A key component of the course will be ethical and social responsibility, and specifically in the area of sustainability. Students will be exposed to some of the leading strategies in the pursuit of social and environmental missions as well as the traditional economic mission. These strategies include the entry into green energy and the pursuit of the triple bottom line by companies in different sectors. The students will be encouraged to consider these approaches in the context of their client projects.

These services will be provided to community partners at no cost and will happen over a ten-week academic term. Any small business, start-up or non-profit agency interested in becoming a community partner for this program should contact Bill Jones at wmj@pdx.edu for more information.