Some management and organisational theories you could possibly use in a dissertation (and in practise). There are a number of theories and a mass of contradictory information about how firms should improve investment in funds, improve quality of the product or the organisation, improve its marketing, how to align the quality system with strategic objectives set, how to motivate workers and managers. Successful firms deal with it from the contingency perspective: choosing the approach that makes sense in the current or expected situation in the near future, a pragmatic view with open eye to ethical considerations. One could state as null hypothesis Ho: management research does not provide ‘valid knowledge’ that supports solving management and organisation problems. Leading to the research hypothesis H1: management research does provide support in solving mgt and org problems. What ‘theory’ you could or should be used in your dissertation about applied management sciences depends on your knowledge about management theories, the ‘problem’ and the ‘research question’. It could relate to accounting systems, IT, marketing, strategy, decision making, project management, leadership, etc.
Management ‘problems’ are related to a ‘situation’. Normally chapter 1 provides a situation analysis to understand the various aspects of the problem (its magnitude, relevance for stakeholders, its importance, etc.). Problems may stem from a gap between a fact and a ‘wish’. These gap-problems are recognized by symptoms, changes in the level of some key monitor that measures achievement. The ‘wish’ is anything like a standard, a norm, an objective to be reached, by either a person or an organisation, and the problem is a gap between 1
what did happen and what should have happened: a failure to meet an objective . In those cases, you will look for theories that may underpin or help to improve current processes in the organisation. Chap 2 is looking for theories that reveal the causes for failure and how to avoid or eliminate them. Other problems stem from what could have happened and what actually did happen; this kind of problem is about missing opportunities. In these cases you would look for theory about strategies that overcome the problem of missing ‘opportunities’. The wider and more general the problem, the more difficult the researchers task! Problems can be very general (Should we be in this business anyway? Should we change our entire marketing plan?) or very specific (What is the best [most preferred] way for company X to improve the package, this plan, this product, this process? Are all quality procedures required by ISO9001:2000 section Resource Management Requirements in place?2). Try to transform your ‘problem’ into one or more ‘narrow’, well-defined and specific research objective(s), which you later on always can build up to a ‘higher’, more complex level showing relationships between factors. Suppose you are interested in a question like: “How can management decisions be improved?”. One possible answer may be found in contrasting the reality of decision making in company X with your decision-making theory knowledge (e.g. psychological approach, or decision-making in groups). There are theories about rational decision making (cognitive process), irrationalities, bounded rationality and optimization(Simon), etc. A substantive theory states decisions should be SAFE (criteria to be ‘suitable, acceptable, feasible, effective’). Marketing research– depending on the problem – might be seen as a means for decision making concerning the corporation, but is mainly focused on consumer behaviour and success of marketing campaigns. According to Burns and Bush (2006) the purpose of marketing research is to link the consumer to the marketer, by providing information to decision makers to help them to make better decisions. The marketing research information must meet requirements like: (1) relevant, (2) valid and reliable, (3) unbiased, and (4)...
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