The essential guide to theses and internship reports in Organization Studies and Strategy Version 1.3
R.L. Olie W. van Olffen P.Berends
© 2004 by the Department of Organization Studies and Strategy All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or utilized in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording or by any information storage and retrieval system, without prior written permission from the copyright owner, or, as the cases may be, the publishers, beyond the exceptions provided by the Copyright Law.
Writing a thesis is part of the academic training at a University. Independently you have to research a topic of your choice. In this respect it is quite different from writing the second year paper, not only because of the greater workload, but also because of the degree of initiative that is required from you: to define a topic, to search for relevant literature, and –often - to conduct empirical research. As a result, writing a thesis is a more time-consuming and frustrating experience than most students expect. In fact, in recent years few students in our field managed to write and defend their thesis within 6-8 months. Some of the problems students face cannot be avoided; they are inherent in doing research and are part of the learning process. Others can be avoided, simply because they arise from a lack of knowledge or misunderstanding: about the purpose of the master thesis, how to address a research problem, what to include or not to include in the manuscript, and what supervisors expect. The department of Organization Studies has taken the initiative to address these ‘avoidable’ problems in the form of a rough guide. This guide primarily focuses on problems involved in writing a master thesis, but it also contains useful information for students who are preparing their internship report. The guide synthesizes our experience in supervising students in master theses and internship reports. But, the guide is in no way complete. Ideas, suggestions and comments from users are therefore most welcome. New in version 1.3. of the thesis guide is that more emphasis is given on the formulation of a thesis proposal since many students have indicated to have had problems with that. A good proposal, however, is the start to a good thesis trajectory. Additionally, make sure to check our special thesis and internship web page. Go to http://www.fdewb.unimaas.nl/os/index.htm and click through to STUDY and THESES AND INTERNSHIPS. Lots of important procedural information, tips and a list of thesis supervisors! The site can be regarded as an addendum to this guide. Finally, most students after graduation profess that writing their thesis was hard work, but one of the most -if not THE most - valuable learning experiences of their entire studies. So take heart: may preceded you and succeeded.... Enjoy! René Olie *) Woody van Olffen Peter Berends
Maastricht, May 2004
*) René Olie has left our Department for the Erasmus University in Rotterdam. René was the originator and first author of this guide.
1. Introduction 2. Content of the thesis and the thesis proposal 3. Writing the thesis 4. How to annoy your thesis supervisor? 5. Evaluation of your thesis 6. Summing up Appendix: A proposal example
1 1 7 13 17 18 20
The purpose of the master thesis is twofold. The first objective is to learn how to research a specific issue. Knowledge and skills in this area are not only important from a scientific perspective, but they are essential in any business environment. Most companies base their decision making on some kind of research. Thus, knowledge of research methods will be of value: for people who have to evaluate research (proposals) prepared by others and who will use it as input for decision making, as well as for those who are preparing...