Stern Signature Projects

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NYU faculty research continually drives innovation for the global challenges of tomorrow. Through Stern Signature Projects, students have the opportunity to work with faculty to address some of the most pressing global issues of the 21st century. Structured as semester or year long independent studies, these opportunities allow students to customize their MBA experience by driving thought leadership across an array of global and interdisciplinary questions. Anyone can read business concepts in a textbook, but through SSP our students have the chance to tackle those issues in real time. 

Project Examples

Each project is unique with its own attributes so we encourage you to read the below past project examples.

Marron Institute Signature Project

An increasingly urban world demands ever-improving urban management. The Marron Institute conducts innovative applied research, working with cities to take on critical challenges of urban living. The Marron Institute Signature Project provides students with the opportunity to focus on advisory work for a government in a city or a rapidly urbanizing country where the output typically takes the form of a brief, business plan or paper intended to inform or influence a set of key actors, policy makers and practitioners. Globally, cities are home to more than half the world's population—4 billion people and growing. Though the researchers and faculty at the Marron Institute do publish and teach on occasion, their chief focus is the pursuit of sponsored research that will extend the impact of the Institute's founding gift and have a positive and measureable impact on the life of cities all over. 

Past SSP Projects have included:
  • Honduras: The world’s urban population will more than double between 2010 and 2110. There are two ways to channel this rapid urbanization: existing cities can expand or new cities can emerge. The focus of this project was to formulate a new business plan for a city in Honduras that could one day reach a population of 10 million people.
  • Detroit: The level of crime in a city has a direct impact on all aspects of life, including the value of the land and the tax revenue that the city government collects. The focus of this project was for students to examine ways the government could make the city of Detroit safer.
  • Mexico City: The housing supply in Mexico City meets only 50 percent of the current demand. The focus of this project was to analyze Mexico City’s zoning regulations and assess their impact on the affordable housing supply.
  • New York City: Racial disparity is particularly notable in matters of policing after a number of high-profile killings of blacks by police officers over the past year. The NYPD looked to improve demographic gaps between the police force and the communities they serve, and to enhance relationships of trust between the police department and communities throughout New York City. This project focused on evaluating ways to improve racial representation within the NYPD through enhancements to their application processes as well as pathways for mentorship
  • Valledupar and Monteria, Colombia: In preparing for urban growth, these two Colombian cities would like to set aside sufficient land in its area of expansion to allow for parks and open spaces. MBA students developed a business plan for open-space acquisition and worked with the Mayor's office to begin marketing and implementing the strategy.
  • Hawassa, Ethiopia: As Hawassa grows, it needs to set aside sufficient land for environmentally sensitive areas and open spaces in order to develop tourism as a major pole for economic development. MBA students will research best practices for preservation and regional tourism and then work to develop a tourism-based business plan for preserving public open spaces.

The Production Lab Signature Project

The Production Lab (TPL) is a new cross-school initiative whose goal is to educate and assist NYU filmmakers as they transition from student to film professional, while simultaneously providing educational opportunities and real-world experiences for NYU students pursuing the many career paths in the filmmaking world.

Through the Production Lab Stern Signature Project, Stern students have the opportunity to support the next generation of film makers through projects related to innovative marketing and distribution strategies. In the innaugural Production Lab Signature Project, a group of 5 Stern MBAs developed an innovative set of distribution and marketing strategies for the film CRONIES, directed by NYU Tisch alumnus Michael J. Larnell and executive produced by Tisch alumnus and Professor Spike Lee. Working in collaboration with NYU Stern Professor Peter Newman and Miranda Sherman at the NYU Production Lab held weekly meetings with their filmmaker throughout the academic year to discuss goals, present their research and implement new deliverables. Within the span of a few months, they had proposed and executed on audience segmentation, PR strategies, ticket pricing models, a robust social media presence and a theatrical premiere hosted by the Independent Filmmaker Project (IFP). To learn more, click here.

Advanced Global Strategy Praticum

Advanced Global Strategy Practicums leverage NYU's global footprint through our portal campuses in NYC, Abu Dhabi and Shanghai. These practicums allow MBA students to extend their global reach by advising multinational companies on strategies related to competing in an ever-incresingly global landscape.
  • United Arab Emirates: students partnered with NYU Abu Dhabi, the World Wildlife Fund, and McKinsey and Company.As part of its appointment to assist the government of Fujairah in developing a National Park in the Protected Area of Wadi Wurayah, the World Wildlife Fund is developing a Business Plan for Wadi Wurayah National Park. The park will become an independent entity under the governance of Fujairah in the United Arab Emirates. In partnership with McKinsey and Company, the World Wildlife Fund wishes to develop an initial framework for the business plan and has sought support from NYU Stern.This collaboration presents a learning opportunity for a select group of NYU Stern MBA students, who have the opportunity to engage with a real life case and learn from the very best in the fields of business and conservation by working directly with McKinsey and Company and the World Wildlife Fund. In February 2015, the GNU Practicum Stern MBA students traveled to the United Arab Emirates for this collaboration, as part of a rigorous independent study program.
  • Tel Aviv, Israel: In the Spring 2014 semester, the Stern Signature Projects: IDC Global Strategy Practicum provided students with the opportunity to extend their global reach. NYU Stern MBA students partnered with MBA students from the Arison School of Business, Interdisciplinary Center (IDC), in Herzliya, Israel. Students worked together on a joint international strategy project for a real global company that developed market entry strategies for North America and elsewhere.In preparation for this advanced project engagement, the selected Stern students traveled to IDC’s Israel campus in January 2014 to undergo an intense four-day workshop based on the methodologies of the global management consulting firms. Upon their return to New York, the Stern MBA students collaborated with a Stern management faculty advisor and with their Israeli counterparts. When the project concluded in May 2014, the lead client and IDC students visited New York where the students finalized their analysis, presenting their final recommendations to the client.

Unique ID Initiative Signature Project

In September 2010, India’s government embarked on an ambitious project to provide a biometric-based unique digital identity (Unique Identification - UID) to each of its 1.2 billion citizens. Students have identified institutional models for market-state partnerships in emerging economies, analyzed new models for 'inclusive banking' in India, and developed a business plan for venture capitalists interested in funding UID-related ventures.

Haiti Initiative Signature Project

The Clinton Foundation has been actively engaged in Haiti since 2009, focusing on private sector investment and job creation in order to create long-term, sustainable economic development. After the devastating earthquake in 2010, President Clinton formed the Clinton Foundation Haiti Fund and raised $16.4 million from individual donors for immediate earthquake relief efforts. In 2011, the Clinton Foundation refocused its efforts in Haiti from emergency planning, putting emphasis on helping to build a stronger Haiti that relies less on foreign aid and more on the enterprise of its people.

Through the Clinton Foundation Stern Signature Project, Stern students have the opportunity to support the restoration of Haiti's communities through projects related to private sector investment, job creation, capacity building, and education. Over the past several semesters, Stern students have completed a comprehensive assessment of existing best practices among investment promotion agencies in the Caribbean, developed a set of actionable recommendations to help Haiti better attract foreign direct investment, mobilized the creation of a Haitian Diaspora Investment Fund, and assisted high-potential Haitian entrepreneurs around their current business challenges for growth. Some teams have had the opportunity to travel to Haiti to see the impact of their work firsthand.


The Sharing Economy Signature Project

Over the past five years, we has witnessed the emergence of a variety of new peer-to-peer Internet enabled marketplaces that are collectively being referred to as being part of the “sharing economy”. A host of companies — Airbnb, Uber, Lyft, Sidecar, Snapgoods, TaskRabbit, Yerdle, RelayRides, Getaround, to name a few —are dramatically expanding the set of industries susceptible to transformation by information technology, taking its impact well beyond familiar (content) industries like music, movies, and books.

Furthermore, these "sharing economy" marketplaces transcend the simple trade conducted on eBay, and are instead inventing an entirely new asset-light supply paradigm. They enable the disaggregation of physical assets in space and in time, creating digital platforms that make these disaggregated components amenable to pricing, matching, and exchange.

Through the Sharing Economy Signature Project, students have worked with Prof Sundararajan on answering questions about the sharing economy such as, What will the scope of economic transformation caused by sharing economy platforms be? What fraction of GDP will be sharing economy activity in a decade? How rapidly is collaborative consumption being “legitimized” How will these platforms alter the nature of work, how much to they servce as “finishing school” for entrepreneurs, and how does one measure ‘work’ in a sharing economy? What is the interplay between digital community activity and offline (real-world) activities in shaping the collective voice of consumers?

Business & Human Rights Signature Project

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Global companies are central players in either improving or eroding respect for human rights. This is especially true when they operate in states with weak institutions and rule of law. Under the advisement of Director Sarah Labowitz and Mike Posner, students working on the Business & Human Rights Signature Project tackle the most pressing issues at the intersection of business and human rights. Past projects have included:
  • Bangladesh is the third largest apparel exporter to the United States, but there is no authoritative database of all (or even most) factories producing for the export market there. The Center for Business and Human Rights’ report on the structure of the supply chain in Bangladesh identified a problematic system of “indirect sourcing” in which brands and retailers often do not know which factories are making their products. For this project, MBA students help the Center in its efforts to establish the full scope of the garment industry in Bangladesh. 
  • More and more investors are recognizing the benefits of sustainable “ESG” (environmental, social, and governance) investing strategies. An analysis of existing approaches to measuring social factors, and specifically the human rights component of “S”, reveal that there are few reliable indicators for differentiating investments on the basis of human rights. Defining what constitutes a “high road” firm when it comes to human rights will help motivate the use of capital markets to improve human rights in business on a global scale. MBA students will partner with NYU Stern's CBHR to define the indicators of what constitutes a high-road firm.