In the module you will have the possibility of choosing between two types of dissertations:
– Classic academic dissertation based on a topic of clear international Business focus. If you select this route, you will have to conduct and develop research filling a research gap(s) in the relevant literature of International Business.
– Consultancy route: If you chose the consultancy pathway, you are supposed to work on an actual management problem, preferably in cooperation with an existing firm. You are expected to focus on an international business problem when designing your consultancy project. This can concern e.g. export plans, international marketing strategies, M&A, entering new markets, international staffing, international supply chain management, or international cooperation networks. This route places you in the role of a business consultant who is usually hired for going into an organization where he/she is expected to address some problems/challenges the business has identified. All projects will involve gathering and analyzing information related to the business problem.
Independently of the type of dissertation you choose to purse, you will have to develop a 10,000 words dissertation as final outcome of the module (summative assessment) which will count for 100% of the final mark. Before that, you will be asked to submit a 1,000 words formative assessment: the thesis structure. The requirements and marking criteria for the thesis structure and dissertations are slightly different between the two types of dissertations. All details are reported below.
This 10,000-word project should have an International Business focus and have the following sections
• Header Sheet
• Title page
• Acknowledgements (optional)
• Table of contents
• List of tables (where relevant)
• List of figures (where relevant)
• Chapter 1 – Introduction, research questions and hypotheses
• Chapter 2 – Literature review
• Chapter 3 – Methodology
• Chapter 4 – Data presentation, evidence, analysis and discussion
• Chapter 5 – Summary and conclusions
This chapter structure is only indicative and may be modified according to the specific needs of the research; in other words, some consultancy reports may be constructed differently according to specific needs. If this is the case, the student must discuss their proposed changes with the Supervisor as soon as possible.)
• Bibliography and reference list
• Appendices (Ethics requirements: the participant information sheet and ALL collected consent forms; questionnaire or interview guide)
The title page should contain
• Your first and last names, with your student ID;
• The programme in which you are enrolled, and your starting date (“MA International Business, University of Greenwich, Business School, September 2016 starter”);
• The module title and code (“Project MA/MBA IB, BUSI1359”);
• The title of your project;
• The name of your supervisor.
It should not exceed 250 words. It serves to highlight the main ideas, findings and implications of the research. It may be organised according to the following template:
• Research design/methodology
See the following example:
Purpose – This study aims to examine the impact of selected corporate governance indicators on social and financial performance of Indian MFIs. Research design/methodology – The study uses quantitative research approach based on only secondary data from 15 Indian MFIs – sampled using purposive sampling technique – where multiple regression analysis is adopted as basic analytical framework.
Findings – The study finds that board independence (in terms of proportion of non-executive board members on board) is positively correlated with both the performance measures; board size is negatively correlated with the same; board diversity (in terms of proportion of women on board) is found to be positively correlated with financial performance but negatively with social performance. Lastly, the study also evaluates the impact of MFI size (measured in terms of total assets) on performance and finds a strong positive correlation.
Limitations – It would definitely have been advantageous to include more MFIs and more governance indicators in the study, to get a clearer picture of link between corporate governance and performance of MFIs. The limitations however do not compromise on the accuracy and validity of the findings.
Recommendations – In order to fully achieve the multi-perspective and sometimes conflicting objectives of „reaching the poor‟ and being „financial self-sustainable‟, good practice of corporate governance principles is recommended.
Value – Considering the scarcity of studies on link between governance and performance of microfinance sector, especially in India, this study has a value in figuring out the application of corporate governance in microfinance.
Keywords: Microfinance, corporate governance, social performance, financial performance, India.
This example is only indicative and you may choose a different format according to the specific needs of your research.
In general, it is advisable to ensure that each chapter has a short and concise introduction and conclusion. The introduction sets the scene, and the conclusion sums up and announces what comes next.
Make sure your structure and presentation are up to standards. Divide each chapter into shorter, numbered subsections. Remember to also number and label any tables, equations, and figures. Cite the sources of your work (both literature and data) as appropriate.
To improve your written expression, you may find it useful to consult this website, which aims to help especially non-native speakers of English to improve their writing in academic contexts: http://www.phrasebank.manchester.ac.uk/
Chapter 1 – Introduction, research questions and hypotheses
It should be general in nature and present the background to the Project, the questions you aim to answer, and the plan.
It serves two main purposes:
• Contextualises the research within a larger disciplinary framework and signals how you intend your work to be considered.
• Identifies the main focus or research problem with which you are concerned about.
• Defines your research questions. Remember that research questions should be structured and framed in a way that allows a definite, clear and unambiguous answer. They should be sufficiently narrow and precise to be testable. Please note that the research should have a clear International Business focus.
• Identifying the explanatory variables and dependent variables of your research.
Chapter 2 – Literature review
As discussed above, the literature review is a description of what is already known on your topic, what policy or business implications have been derived out of this, what gaps in knowledge remain to be addressed, and what suggestions for future work emerge.
Make sure you give adequate consideration to the classics in your topic area, the landmarks, and the most recent developments.
Present the literature in critical perspective, either chronologically (tracing the development of the field over time) or comparing similarities and differences between authors and schools of thought.
Chapter 3 – Methodology
Be careful: this is not a broad overview of research methods in business and/or the social sciences. You need to describe and explain your own choice of research methods: tell the reader exactly what you did, and why; whether you were successful or not; what difficulties you encountered.
You should think of the methodology section as a set of instructions you are giving to readers so that they can replicate your work exactly as you did it. Think of it as a sort of “recipe” which needs to be very precise on the ingredients, the combination of them and the timing so that someone else can reproduce the result.
You can have a look at the methodology sections of scientific articles available from the Library portal “Electronic Journals”, to see how they have presented their methods and draw inspiration from them (without plagiarising, of module!).
Be as precise as you can, and rely on your records for any details.
If you did a primary data collection, your methodology section must tell the reader must explain:
• How you defined and selected your sample.
• How you identified and recruited relevant subjects.
• How you approached them.
• How many you approached, and how many actually responded.
• What are the sample characteristics (in terms of gender, age, geographic location etc.).
• Whether you used questionnaires or in-depth interviews or focus groups etc., and why.
• Whether you surveyed/interviewed your participants face-to-face, or by phone, mail, email etc
• When and where you distributed the survey (or did the interviews, focus groups etc.).
• Whether you obtained participants’ consent.
• Whether you experienced any difficulties (e.g. due to non-response) and what you did as a correction
If you used secondary data, you must tell your reader:
• What database(s) you selected (for example which one(s) of the above).
• How you accessed them (for example, if freely online or through ESDS registration, or through the University portal).
• What are the main characteristics of the database (you can refer here to the metadata provided by the authors of the study, as indicated above).
• Whether you extracted parts of the database, and which ones (for example, financial information on just one particular company instead of a whole group; or just one particular year instead of a time trend);
• Which variables you used, what they mean, and how they are measured.
• Whether you modified any of the variables and/or added new variables built from existing ones (for example, if you built indices or rates of growth based on a succession of quarterly GDP figures).
Remember to cite the data and the metadata, as indicated above.
Chapter 4 – Data presentation, evidence , analysis and discussion
While the form in which you present your findings will depend on your methodological choices, a generally accepted good practice for quantitative data is to present them in tables and figures. Comment them in an effort to guide the reader through the significant and important points – you may wish to point out trends in the table, for example. As you move across categories of the independent variable, what happens to the dependent variables? You may wish to highlight the more theoretically or empirically interesting findings in the table. You must make sure that the table, as a whole, warrants inclusion in your paper and that you make reference to it in your text.
Remember to appropriately number and label tables and figures. If you re-use tables and figures from external sources, remember to cite them.
Chapter 5 – Summary and conclusions
Give a brief explanation of why things appear as they are, state whether or not your initial hypotheses are confirmed or rejected, and provide possible reasons for that. Consider how aspects of the research process, the design of your investigation, the sample you constructed and the interview schedule you used, could be modified in order to generalize results to a broader variety of settings. Outline the implications of your research for public policy or company strategy, if any. Think about limitations of your work and directions for future improvements.
Your bibliography (list of references) should be:
1. according to author(s) surname
2. books, journal articles and web pages should be integrated in the same list
According to the Harvard referencing system, you should list items as follows:
Davidsson, P. , Demar, F. & Wiklund, J. (2002), “Entrepreneurship as Growth: Growth of Entrepreneurship”, in Hitt, M. Ireland, D., Camp, M. & Sexton, D. (eds) (2002), Strategic Entrepreneurship – Creating a New Mindset, Oxford: Blackwell – pp 328 – 338.
Barney, J. (1991), “Firm Resources and Sustained Competitive Advantage”, Journal of Management, (volume/number) 27(1): (pages) 99 – 120.
Snow, C.C. & Hrebiniak, L.G. (1980), “Strategy, Distinctive Competence, and Organisational Performance”, (volume) 25: (pages) 527-538.