This page provides information for students that are considering asking me to supervise their dissertation. It provides some ideas on possible topics and advice on methodology.
I think there are three ingredients for success:
(1) Choose an insightful research question in an interesting topic
I consider the power of economic reasoning to stem from its applicability, and therefore take a broad and eclectic position of what would constitute suitable subject material. For a general management thesis I don’t require students to work on the same research topics that I do. Indeed, there are several topics that I have thoughts and ideas on which I’d be delighted to see students run with. It is important to stress that an interesting topic is a necessary but not sufficient condition. You also need to identify an interesting research question within that topic. I’ve provided some examples of topics that I find interesting below:
- How companies can deal with whistleblowing
- Adoption and use of internal prediction markets
- Application of Market-Based Management (R) (or other management tools that can be analysed along the lines of MBM)
- An assessment of a specific example of entrepreneurship policy within the EU
- Examples of social entrepreneurship
- Corruption as an enabler of economic growth
- Circular economy
- A cluster mapping (see here for more examples)
- A competitiveness report
- Replicate and validate a country profile from the Fraser Institute Economic Freedom Index, Heritage Index of Economic Freedom, Legatum Prosperity Index, or Social Progress Index
- The use of analytics in European football
- The European football scouting industry
(2) Utilise the right methodological framework
To start off with, I recommend the following articles on research design:
- “What The Bagel Man Saw” (Stephen J. Dubner and Steven D. Levitt, New York Times Magazine, June 6th 2004)
- “Self-Experimenter Freed Himself from Insomnia, Acne and Love Handles” (Minckel, J.R., Scientific American, March 18th 2008)
Although I’ve created an online course on Analytics my methodological interests are in qualitative and comparative methods.
- Especially for general management students I think case studies are a great way to get an empirical background. See here for my guide to writing case studies. If possible, I’d love to encourage students to engage in ethnographic fieldwork. I’m even willing to consider retrospective fieldwork (i.e. where you write up past experiences). See here for some comments on fieldwork, and see here for a guide on doing industrial interviews.
There are also a few techniques that I am willing to work with students interested in using, regardless of the topic:
- The comparative method (i.e. QCA). (See here for an introduction to the comparative method)
(3) Demonstrate competent project planning
This is crucial because it determines whether the experience is enjoyable or not. The following are necessary (but not sufficient) characteristics you need to have:
- Enthusiasm for the research question (and not just the research topic)
- Genuine desire to have research published
- Ability to self-motivate
- Swift communication
When planning the writing of the thesis take a look at:
This is also useful: Baylor University research planner guide.
These are only general guidelines and there’ll always be a gap between my judgement and your understanding of my judgment. But just because the grading is subjective does not make it arbitrary. I will assign an A, B, C or D grade to the following dimensions:
- Purpose – are the aims and objectives clearly set and have they been met?
- Originality – is this new? Interesting?
- Focus – is the work precise?
- Literature review – is the thesis aware of and able to critically discuss existing literature?
- Methodology – are the methods chosen appropriate?
- Analysis – has the entire process been transparent and correctly interpreted?
- Implications for management – does it have relevance to the professional community?
- Quality of presentation – is it clear and does it add value to the written work?
- Quality of written work – are there any errors?
- Quality of communication with supervisor – were the expectations of the supervisor managed effectively? Was help asked for when necessary? Was it an enjoyable experience for all?
For more details on grade ranges see page 7 of my guide for students, however you should adjust the passing grades such that what I deem to be a C grade for a thesis would get a mark of 55-60; a B is 70-80 and an A is 85+. Don’t make me send you this.
- Francesca Celano, “Economic Freedom and Human Development: An analysis of the links between economic policy and quality of life” June 2016
- Valentin Vermersch “Features of Successful Strategies by Firms from Developing Economies”, June 2014
- Bartosz Wasilewski “Analysis and Evaluation of the Credit Rating Industry”, July 2007