Michigan Ross’ MAP Celebrates 25 Years of Using Action-Based Learning to Solve Real-World Business Problems

Pioneering Program Brought Students to Nearly 100 Countries Worldwide Completing More Than 2,000 Projects for Leading Corporations, Nonprofits and Startups

ANN ARBOR, Mich.--()--Today, The University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business kicked off its annual Multidisciplinary Action Projects (MAP) program, one of the longest-standing and most immersive action-based learning experiences in graduate business education. Michigan Ross changed the landscape of business education 25 years ago with the introduction of MAP where students had the opportunity to apply concepts from the classroom in the real world by embedding them in an organization where they tackle complex business challenges or uncover new opportunities for a company or nonprofit. Today, that innovation continues to create transformative experiences for the next generation of business leaders.

"The core idea of MAP is that the best way to learn business is by doing business," said Scott DeRue, the Edward J. Frey Dean of the Stephen M. Ross School of Business. “We firmly believe that there is no greater force for positive change in the world today than business. Half of the MAP experiences this year are global, and 70% of Michigan Ross students participating are doing projects outside of their home country. No other action-based learning program has the scale and scope of MAP.”

Each year, the entire class of first-year full-time MBA students participates in MAP, where they spend seven weeks undertaking a variety of projects identified by a sponsor organization, including evaluating market entry opportunities, developing long-term strategic plans and analyzing branding efforts. At the conclusion of the project, teams deliver analysis and thorough, data-driven recommendations to the sponsor and Ross faculty. The value of these recommendations is evident as 91% of projects are presented to senior executives at the participating companies.

A Quarter Century of Action-Based Learning Success

The start of the 2017 projects marks a major milestone for the trailblazing program. First piloted in 1992 with companies and brands including Cadillac, Comerica and Motorola, MAP became part of the required core MBA curriculum the following year. In 1995, the program expanded globally, with the first international MAP project being conducted for Whirlpool in Europe. Since then, students have gone on to solve pressing issues for companies such as Facebook, Amazon, General Motors and PepsiCo, as well as nonprofits including Make-A-Wish and the University’s own William Davidson Institute.

In total since its inception, 2,010 MAP projects have been completed in 97 countries, providing solutions to more than 1,300 project sponsors and unparalleled learning experiences to more than 10,000 students. MAP has not only given Michigan Ross national recognition as an innovator, but it has also made a deep impact on the lives of thousands of alumni, who often point to the MAP experience as one of their most memorable times at Michigan Ross.

Seth Kaufman, MBA '01, participated in a MAP project with an Israeli startup during his time as a student, and has been a sponsor of MAP through his executive leadership posts at PepsiCo. “We have seen real impact in terms of ideas actually being implemented," said Kaufman, about the projects MAP teams have completed for PepsiCo. "We've adopted marketing platforms, innovations and pursued business opportunities that originated from MAP projects. Having students come in and push our thinking is great. When you're on the inside, it's difficult to have a critical perspective. But we encourage students to really tell it like it is and challenge the status quo. In the future, I see MAP continuing to push the boundaries of what's possible in bringing people and ideas together." Kaufman is currently President, North America Nutrition at the soft-drink giant.

2017 MAP Program Highlights

Today, more than 400 students will embark on the beginning of their own MAP journey, bringing them to 24 different countries and 115 cities worldwide. This is the first year that students will travel to Nepal where a team will work on a social impact-oriented project for Global Fairness Initiative. Their task will be to determine a sustainable business model for Better Brick Nepal, a market-based program that’s transforming the country’s brick industry by eliminating forced, bonded child labor.

Additional projects and locations of this year’s MAP program include:

  • Shinola, Chicago and Detroit – The team will study and perhaps facilitate the retailer’s entry into an entirely new product area.
  • Hotels.com, London and Dallas – The team will create an easy access portal to share consumer research across regions and channels.
  • Java House, Nairobi, Kenya and Dar es Salaam, Tanzania – The team will provide a roadmap and entry strategy for the company to bring operations to Tanzania.
  • Jeevtronics, Mumbai, India and Pune, India The team will determine market entry strategies for the company’s hand-cranked defibrillator in a number of global developing markets.
  • Ford Motor Co., Detroit – The team will be analyzing the revenue opportunities associated with connected vehicle services.

"Our Multidisciplinary Action Projects blur the line between learning and action in the best way possible," said Jeffrey Sanchez-Burks, professor of management and organizations and faculty director of the Office of Action-Based Learning, which oversees the MAP program. "We want students to articulate their learning goals, both in the analytic and leadership dimensions, and view their experiences through that lens, thinking about those goals throughout MAP. Just as the students evolve through the process, so does the program. The goal is to never rest on the laurels of the success of our programs and to continue to make Michigan Ross the innovation hub of transformational, experience-based learning.”

Student teams will highlight aspects of their MAP experience on Instagram and Twitter. Follow the action and students' progress at @MichiganRoss, using the hashtag #ROSSMAP.

About Michigan Ross

The Michigan Ross MBA Program develops leaders through experience-driven business education. We provide a multidisciplinary, global, and team-based curriculum that reflects the modern business environment. A highlight of the Ross MBA is our signature Multidisciplinary Action Projects (MAP) course, which immerses students in a real-world business challenge for seven weeks. Our vibrant, diverse community fuels innovation, and our alumni are passionate and proud. We believe business is the most powerful force for economic and social change. This is the driving force behind our goal of developing leaders with the confidence, capabilities, and connections to make a difference in the world.

Ross is consistently ranked among the world's leading business schools. Academic degree programs include the BBA, MBA, Part-time MBA (Evening and Weekend formats), Executive MBA, Global MBA, Master of Accounting, Master of Supply Chain Management, Master of Management, and PhD. In addition, the school delivers open-enrollment and custom executive education programs targeting general management, leadership development, and strategic human resource management.


Version 2.0 Communications
Jen Kaye, 617-426-2222

Release Summary

The Ross School of Business today kicked off its annual Multidisciplinary Action Projects (MAP) program, the most immersive action-based learning experience in graduate business education.


Version 2.0 Communications
Jen Kaye, 617-426-2222