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Projects & Electives

Active Learning Projects

Mitchell E. Daniels, Jr. School of Business partners with companies large and small to provide active learning projects (ALPs) to provide extraordinary learning experiences for EMBA students. An integral part of top-tier EMBA programs, ALPs give our students new insights and deeper experiences through solving crucial business problems.


How Applied Learning Projects Work

EMBA staff and recent ALP company partners discuss the details of ALPs
Watch the webinar

Cohorts are split into teams of 5-6 students that consult with their assigned company over a 14-week period. Their goal is to consult with organizational partners to address a critical business problem such as entering new markets, launching new services, initiating organizational change, making important investment decisions, restructuring functions and more. Selected firms will benefit from the expertise of highly experienced Executive MBA students from diverse industries, countries and job functions.

Proven Results

Recent Active Learning Projects have been in the areas of finance, operations, strategy and technology. Specific examples of project results include:

  • Optimizing levels of work in progress and raw inventories to reduce lead time by 13% and stock on hand from 2.35 months to 2 months (a 15% reduction) for two different product lines for a global pump manufacturer based in Scandinavia.
  • Developing a roadmap to inform a German steel conglomerate’s R&D efforts.
  • Providing strategic guidance regarding what role a newly acquired company should take within a firm that manufactures and installs fixed seating projects for the educational, cultural, business and sports sector.
  • Assisting a Dutch motorcycle and ATV parts distributor in pivoting to a more technologically savvy consumer base by moving to an internet commerce model.


This ALP project had everything, and then some. I learned that not all people are as visual as I am. So it gives me a perspective into another person's mind, showing that even if you can visualize things, it doesn't naturally mean that somebody else can. You can bring people onto the same page by just showing them what it is, and that is what I did with this team. We had success with that, and I'll continue to use it.

Vikash Pandey, EMBA Class of 2021

Partner With Us

Partner organizations can be of any size, from any industry, and do business in any country, but the firm must be established. Companies should expect to work with the Executive MBA students assigned to their project like consultants, discussing needs, sharing information, providing feedback, and participating in performance evaluations. Each partner company must identify a project owner and contact person for regular communication with the students. We require a financial commitment of $2,500, payable on an as-needed basis, for direct costs – e.g., student travel expenses for a site visit.

Questions about Purdue's EMBA Program Active Learning Projects? Contact Sarah Ham, Director, at

Ready to engage? We’re soliciting partner organizations for consulting projects with our current EMBA cohort. Companies with opportunities for student consulting projects, to be delivered in the July-November timeframe, are encouraged to contact Dr. Matthew Lynall,, for more information.


I hope that students will take this experience as one that really highlights and builds confidence for them in what they've learned and allows them to move into their career in a way that they feel confident about what they can do. Because they've really experienced success on a small scale, they can take on a global scale not only for their firms and institutions organizations and teams.

Professor Mary Pilotte

Functional Electives

Functional electives in the Purdue EMBA Programs are courses that vary depending on the interests and needs of the cohort.

They are two-credit courses taken by the entire cohort. The cohort votes on a set of options and the top three choices are selected.

Our functional elective offerings include:

Corporate governance is the set of processes, laws and institutions affecting the way a company is directed and how it performs. Corporate governance also includes the relationships among the many stakeholders involved. In contemporary business corporations, the main external stakeholder teams are shareholders, debtholders and communities affected by the corporation's activities. Internal stakeholders are the board of directors, executives and other employees.

This course will illustrate some of these key relationships, including how they can go wrong and the trade-offs managers have to make to manage all of these relationships.

We will focus primarily on the role of boards of directors, as they have the greatest influence on the organization.  Their key roles include hiring and firing the CEO, helping the organization reduce the probability of wrongdoing and helping the organization’s performance with their advice and counsel. We will also discuss how and why boards themselves fail.

Information technology has transformed every industry. Organizations in some industries (e.g., music) are simply responding to the transformations, whereas other organizations (e.g., ready-mix concrete delivery) are leading the transformation. There are many examples of organizations that have failed because of their senior leadership's inability to respond to the transformations. 

With big data analytics making waves and yet technologies to come in the future, the main objective of this course is to provide you with core ideas that can withstand the test of time. 

The focus of the course is to develop insights through cases, lectures, discussions and examples into when and how information and digital strategies can be used to create and enhance an organization’s competitive advantage. 

Acquisitions not only represent a key means by which firms grow and capture value, they also are risky and present many important challenges and tradeoffs to managers. By its nature, the M&A context is one in which many of the EMBA courses come together and interact (e.g., strategy, finance, HR, IT, etc.). 

In this course, we will focus on the key aspects of M&A deal-making and implementation, and we will adopt an integrative approach that emphasizes strategic management issues in corporate development. Through a combination of case studies and readings covering concepts and tools, we will cover topics such as the following: M&A within corporate strategy, M&A motives, target selection criteria, transactional considerations (e.g., due diligence, valuation, deal structures), sell-side issues, the roles of consultants in M&A, alternative means of corporate development (e.g., when to use an acquisition versus various types of partnerships and internal development), structural and cultural integration approaches during post-merger integration (PMI) and unique execution requirements of mergers of equals. 

The course will therefore cover the most important components of M&A deal-making and implementation.

This course is designed to give you a practical introduction to negotiation concepts and tactics. It is a skills class intended to inform your day to day work. Through a combination of methods including cases, experiential projects, discussions and lectures, this course will help you improve your ability to negotiate deals and manage employment relationships.

The objectives of the course are to provide you with: an ability to identify the practical issues involved in any negotiation situation; an insight into your own strengths and weaknesses in these areas; an opportunity to develop skills in negotiations; and an increased awareness and sensitivity to the challenges of managing relationships.

These courses are called "functional" electives because they address a crucial function of an organization.

Having a voting system for our functional electives speaks to our unique approach to choosing and designing electives. Because we consider our students our partners in their education, we never simply provide a predetermined list of electives from which they must choose. We instead make our students co-designers of their curriculum.

Immersion Electives

Immersion electives are one-credit courses in which the cohort is divided into smaller workshop-style groups. Students rank different topics of interest, and then are assigned to groups of 6 to 15 students based on their interests.

The students meet with the faculty member prior to the start of the course to provide input regarding the goals for selecting the topic.

Our immersion elective offerings include:

This elective course is a continuation and extension of the materials introduced in the financial management course.

It will examine additional business decision settings and provide a further development of relevant analytical approaches. Topics to be covered include trade credit decisions, management under financial distress, initial public securities offerings, private equity transactions and an introduction to the international financial markets. Case analyses will be the primary vehicles for the class discussions.

The instructor, Bill Lewellen, is an MIT PhD graduate and a longtime Daniels School finance professor, including as the recipient of a named distinguished professorship. He was the Director of Daniels School Executive Education Programs for more than 20 years, and originated both the EMBA and IMM programs for the Daniels School of Business.

This course is designed to focus on identifying the key concepts underlying brands and branding. Understanding begins with the idea that even the most skillful marketer cannot make customers buy things that they don't need or want. Hence, we will focus on issues related to customer behavior and customer decision making, especially as it relates to designing products and services and developing brands around these solutions to customer problems.

This elective course is designed to build on and apply the conceptual tools obtained in the core marketing management course.

It has been said that great leaders have the ability to make the most out of every situation. In addition to reaching their own full potential, leaders need to understand how to develop the talents of those around them. To that end, coaching and mentoring are considered essential leadership practices, yet many lack the knowledge to carry them out effectively.  

This class provides an introduction to basic coaching and mentoring concepts. It emphasizes practical skills that can be applied to your current work and non-work relationships to help others reach their full potential.

Daniels School Executive in Residence Jeff Powers gives a brief look at our Coaching and Mentoring elective. Powers harnesses the wisdom gained from his nearly 30-year career at IBM.

This course is designed to give managers practical tools for improving their ability to motivate and engage their employees, and help their organization sustain competitive advantage. It utilizes a blended learning approach, combining a series of online lectures (pre-residency) with traditional in residence classes, involving case studies, discussion and exercises.

This course is designed to focus on identifying the key concepts underlying crisis management, beginning with how to be prepared before a crisis damages your company’s brand or threatens your business. You will learn the keys to building a crisis team and response process based on multiple potential crisis scenarios.

The course will also focus on the keys to effective public leadership and communication during a crisis.  You'll learn the importance of effectively using social media and digital platforms as part of strong response protocols.

This course will build on design thinking and game design techniques to develop process, policies, and/or products that appeal to human instincts.   

We will cover ideas that provide insights into, for example, new product development, entrepreneurship or designing HR policies. To name a few examples of projects we will discuss, SAP’s points-based system to encourage carpooling that helps the company save on large gas expenses; at, the Whitehouse encourages innovative solutions through crowdsourcing; and at companies like Google, and Best-Buy, employees participate in information assimilation games called prediction markets providing information to senior managers about ongoing projects. 

In this course, you will examine the mechanisms behind designing for human instincts and thereby developing an understanding of their effective use in the modern firm. Gamification is one form of design for human instincts.  In order for any design to be effective, it should involve clearly defined strategies and well-managed execution. To identify effective strategies and metrics for the application of techniques to business, this course will draw upon interdisciplinary source material as well as real-world case studies. It will also identify a number of significant pitfalls to techniques, notable legal and ethical issues and the problems with implementing radical change in established firms. 

As a part of this class, you will be designing, playing and evaluating various games.

The objective of this course is to provide a framework for business valuation using financial and accounting information. The course draws on concepts from accounting, business strategy, financial economics and other business disciplines for evaluating business decisions in a variety of contexts. 

This course adopts a user's perspective in reviewing accounting practices, procedures and disclosure requirements. It assumes that you are familiar with fundamental accounting concepts and procedures. 

The course focuses on where to find relevant information to analyze the strategy and performance of a company. In particular, it examines various aspects of accounting and reporting, and develops tools for assessing a firm’s financial condition, its operating, credit, and bankruptcy risks, and its prospects and value. The course emphasizes practical applications. Consequently, a significant portion of the course will be spent analyzing and discussing cases and problems involving real financial statements in real decision contexts.

Game theory studies environments in which each individual’s payoff depends upon both their own actions as well as the actions of others. Game theory attempts to develop an understanding of such situations, to provide a formal framework and solution concepts for making better strategic choices.

In this course, we will examine the basic elements of the game theory methodology and survey a subset of the “big ideas” in applied game theory, ranging from the work of the (27) related Nobel Laureates to the cutting edge of behavioral game theory.

In today’s organizations, work is increasingly organized around teams of various kinds and varying complexity (e.g., virtual and multidisciplinary teams). Teamwork is universally regarded as a key driver organizational effectiveness and profitability. Yet, teams are notorious for being dysfunctional. Interpersonal conflict, politics, miscommunication, ineffective meetings and poor leadership frequently prevent teams from being better than the sum of their parts.

This class provides an introduction to tools that will help you improve the functioning of the teams that you lead and work in. You will learn how to overcome critical team member differences, address interpersonal conflicts, improve communication and interact more efficiently to improve their overall effectiveness.

Prof. Ben Dunford gives an overview of the stages of team development and touches upon the cost of having a dysfunctional team, among other topics, in this video on improving team performance.

Creating new businesses, capturing new markets and enhancing organizational effectiveness occur through product and process innovation.  Innovation is the only insurance against irrelevance and the only guarantee of long-term customer loyalty. Continual change in the form of new ideas, new technologies, and globalization compel both existing firms and entrepreneurs to foster innovation and agility.

This course examines the theory and practice of promoting and managing innovation in start-ups and existing firms. It explores successful frameworks, strategies, funding techniques, business models, risks and barriers for introducing break-through products and services. Topics include business model innovation, design-driven innovation, leadership, strategy, information technology, knowledge management, process improvement, performance measurement and change management.

There are many challenges that managers face when dealing with suppliers, customers and buyers in foreign countries. To give a foundation for those challenges, this course takes the perspective of a manager who is living abroad for an extended period of time.  Given that type of assignment, the manager encounters different issues and challenges than typically expected during short trips. The issues can occur both in one’s home country (due to the absence) and the expectations in the host country (given your increasing familiarization). 

Through this course, you’ll have a foundation for many issues related to an expat assignment which will allow you to undertake such an assignment or help others on that path.

To achieve that goal, we will investigate a mix of cultural and management issues that will influence your success when working abroad. These include:

  • Staying engaged with home and host country colleagues;
  • Understanding softer issues such as language and religion;
  • Taking the perspective of a local company manager;
  • Implications of different legal applications/expectations;
  • Dealing with different cultures.

Together, these topics will encourage you to think about the challenges of living abroad and how to best prepare for those challenges.​

Lean manufacturing is not just a topic but also an attitude and philosophy. As a starting point, this course provides an overview of lean tools & concepts and how to apply them in manufacturing and environments. As such, the philosophy is integrated with data and systems to achieve desired results. Additionally, consideration is given to barriers for Lean implementation and creating plans to implement initiatives.

Objectives of this course include:

  • Learn the basics of Lean and understand the Lean terminology.
  • Learn the seven types of waste and create processes to eliminate them.
  • Learn 5-S framework: Sort, Set in Order, Shine, Standardize, and Sustain.

These trips do not take place during the Purdue Executive MBA residencies, nor do the trips replace any EMBA residency trips. However, while EMBA residencies do not allow friends/family members to attend, Study Abroad does allow a guest to join at an additional cost.

Read more about Study Abroad.

Option 1: ROME: Strategies in Italian Entrepreneurship
LUISS Business School, in the framework of its MBA and International MBA programs, will offer to the Daniels School students a course on the specific topic of strategies in Italian Entrepreneurship. Topics covered during these classes will be new business generation in Italy (and more generally, in Europe), a description of the Italian scenario concerning some of the main Italian industries such as the creative industry, automotive, energy, aerospace and tourism and a focus on managing business in Italy with a multicultural analysis.

In addition to the classwork, students will be immersed in the Italian and Roman culture.  Organized tours of the city, surrounding area and the Vatican are included, as well as organized trips to museums and cultural sites throughout the city.  To complement the course work and the cultural aspects of the week, a company visit will be organized for students that focus on an Italian company that epitomizes the entrepreneurial focus of the course.

Option 2: PARIS: International Marketing:  Dealing with Cultural Diversity
Cultural diversity is the major European challenge: trade barriers have disappeared, cultural barriers have not. Companies willing to expand in Europe need first to observe and understand the dominant cultural traits for each region and perceive the main differences that should be considered for the design of a marketing plan. One needs to adapt all the components of the marketing mix: product design, communication and distribution.

This course comprises two parts. In part one, the focus is placed on European cultural traits to provide the participants with a better understanding of consumer behavior and values as well as business attitudes in the region. In part two, a series of case studies are presented and discussed to analyze marketing strategies implemented in Europe in order to identify success factors.   

Option 3:  MADRID: Business between Spain and the EU
This course explores the ways cultural similarities have allowed Spain to be the bridge between the European (EU) and the countries of South America in developing business relationships. Background on the Spanish economy in transition at the end of the 20th century and its relationship within the EU and in the Global market will be addressed. Spanish business strategy will be discussed, as well as Spanish cultural diversity. A company visit and case studies of companies that have developed successful business relationships are also included.

This course comprises two parts. In part one, the focus is placed on Spanish and European cultural traits to provide the participants with a better understanding of consumer behavior and values as well as business attitudes in the region. In part two, a series of case studies are presented and discussed to analyze marketing strategies implemented by the EU in order to identify success factors within the Spanish economy.

Hear from EMBA Class of 2019's Sara Howe, who studied in Paris as an EMBA immersion elective course.


Supply Chain Management involves interdisciplinary approaches to manage the flows of materials and information among various players at different locations that contribute value to a product or service.

By taking a strategic perspective, this course will focus on relatively long-term decisions involving the investment in productive resources, configuration of processes, product designs and development of partnerships with suppliers and channels of distribution. We also seek to enhance the understanding how analytics can help to improve strategic decision making in global supply chains based on first-hand experiences from projects conducted in several US and international companies, as well as case studies.

Moreover, the students are given the opportunities to exercise strategic decision making through simulation games that mimic the real business environment to understand how to use logical thinking and analytical tools to formulate supply chain strategies.

Our range of EMBA-specific elective options sets the Purdue EMBA program apart from the competition, and the level of student involvement in choosing and designing electives is unparalleled.