MBA Dissertation Specification

Posted on February 17, 2023 by Cheapest Assignment

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The industries and professions which MBA graduates will join and lead are becoming more knowledge intensive. This creates a need for managers who are capable of, amongst many other things, researching different aspects of organisational and market activity and analysing and interpreting data. MBA graduates need to be able to unravel complex situations, think critically, diagnose problems and justify choices and actions based on sound evidence. The MBA dissertation presents a learning vehicle through which you can further develop such skills. The dissertation allows you to research and analyse a business problem or issue and come to reasoned conclusions and recommendations. The process will help you develop an in-depth knowledge and understanding of a highly specialised subject, a critical understanding of research methods and the ability to apply research and project management skills in practice. In addition, if you undertake a consultancy-style dissertation for a client organisation, you will develop further skills associated with negotiation, client engagement and communication.

You will ultimatelybe required to submit a dissertation of 10-15,000 words, excluding data, tables and appendices, setting out your understanding of current theory literature and methodology, the evidence you have gathered, your analysis and interpretation and, finally, your conclusions. You will be supported in this task by one-to-one supervision, research workshops and Canvas materials.

Learning Outcomes

By the end of the dissertation, you should be able to demonstrate a knowledge and understanding of:

  • The different perspectives in management research and how to defend a particular perspective;
  • Relevant literature and theoretical frameworks in a chosen research area;
  • Appropriate and ethical methods of qualitative and quantitative data collection;
  • Appropriate methods of data analysis, including relevant software and statistical techniques where appropriate;
  • How to relate theory to research findings, draw relevant conclusions and consider the implications and limitations of the research which has been undertaken.

In addition, by the end of the dissertation, you should have enhanced your skills in being able to:

  • Undertake a substantial piece of independent and original research;
  • Use relevant literature and theoretical concepts;
  • Think critically and analytically, challenging viewpoints, ideas and theoretical concepts;
  • Defend a chosen research methodology;
  • Work and learn independently to plan and organise a major project;
  • Present a coherent, well-argued and convincing research document, following appropriate conventions for academic writing and referencing.

Choice of Topic

The dissertation is your opportunity to specialise in researching a particular area of business administration. The topic will be your choice and it must have sufficient appeal to maintain your interest over a lengthy time period. You should try to link your topic to the next steps in your career. Researching a particular issue, sector or industry may help directly in securing your next post or promotion after the MBA.

Dissertations must link directly to an aspect of the MBA programme, but can take a number of different forms. If you could have written your submission before you started you will almost certainly fail. The following types of dissertation are indicative:

  • A desk-based study focusing on relevant academic frameworks and a critical examination of secondary data to explore an emerging theoretical or strategic issue. In this type of study you would choose your issue – such as customer loyalty in the financial services sector – and you would systematically and critically review the literature and secondary data. Your task would be to synthesise and analyse the information you find and draw conclusions. Any area of business administration is acceptable.
  • An empirical study commissioned by an organisation (either your own or an external client) using relevant theory and data to solve an organisation’s problem. In the Business School we regularly receive requests from companies for research to be undertaken and, in this case, you would work as a ‘consultant’ to try to answer the research questions posed by the organisation. This type of project can look very good on your CV, as it will demonstrate that you can apply your skills to solving real life organisational problems. Alternatively, you may wish to undertake a project for a current or recent employer, if you plan to resume work for them after your MBA. This type of company-based project will have four stages. First, you will undertake a critical literature review to develop a theoretical framework to help structure your thinking about the research problem.
    Second, based on wide reading, you will develop an appropriate methodology to explore or test your ideas. Third, you will undertake the practical research or investigation, which is likely to involve fieldwork and interviews. Finally, you will compare your research results with the theoretical framework you developed in your first stage, and/or develop a set of recommendations based on your findings.
  • An empirical study using relevant theory and data to analyse the strategy or management practice of a case study company or a range of companies. An example of the former would be testing a hypothesis that companies in the UK tend not to use portfolio analysis in selecting their strategies. An example of a case study approach would be to determine the importance of corporate culture and the management of change in a particular company. As in a company-based study, there will be the same three stages: the critical literature review, the field research and comparison. In the case of a strategic analysis of an organisation use the strategic audit framework to diagnose the strategic issues. A repeat of the SMI assignment on the same or a different organisation is insufficient. Much of the audit detail should go in appendices, leaving discussion of the results for the main text. When you have selected the principal stratgic issue(s) based on the audit results, you should focus your literature review on what you have identified as the most important. We do not want a regurgitation of textbook or module material.

Assessment of a Dissertation

In all three different types of dissertation, assessment will focus on very specific requirements. You are studying for a Masters qualification and this means that certain academic standards must be achieved. You are required to submit a report of 10-12,000 words, and in this document you will need to demonstrate:

  • Evidence of relevant reading and effective use of literature and theoretical frameworks. You must undertake extensive reading and make use of the work of previous researchers who have developed theories, models, concepts or frameworks relevant to your research problem.
  • Evidence of the effective design, critical discussion and execution of an appropriate research methodology. You will be assessed on your ability to choose and justify the right approach to your research (for example, an inductive or deductive approach) and the right data collection methods. You will be assessed on how rigrorous and objective you have been in executing your chosen method.
  • Evidence of critical and analytical thinking. You will need to demonstrate that you understand the strengths and weaknesses of the theory, concepts and models you come across in your research and also the different data sources you use. Any recommendations will need to be based on an objective and critical assessment of your findings.
  • A high standard of written presentation, adhering to academic conventions. A Master’s thesis is an academic document and needs to meet minimum standards. In particular, there should be no evidence of plagiarism and you must use the Harvard system to reference the literature you have read and used to develop your ideas. You have access to the University’s policy (and penalties) for plagiarism and also guidance on how to use the Harvard referencing system.
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