Wednesday, June 20, 2007

My Dissertation Proposals... your input needed

I have to choose my dissertation and below are two proposals... would love it if I could get your perspective as to which one sounds better and more do-able. They are similar as in they both target small businesses but one is more general than the other.


ALTERNATIVE #1

Research Title:
Critical factors driving small business success

Research Background
The Western economies realized decades ago that small and medium enterprises are really the main drivers of the economy. While big businesses are necessary to preserve and maintain structure within the economy, surely they have considerable problems of their own. Mega corporations of the earlier era have increasingly lost their edge to smaller, nimbler organizations, which have sprouted all over the Western landscape. The Middle East is now a new turning point for SME’s to begin a grassroots revolution.

Today Dubai and GCC opens golden opportunities to the global business communities of the world. The business activities in the region are increasing at record pace by the day, Dubai now sets the standard, and every other city in the region wants to catch up fast. Right now, Dubai International Exhibition Centre, the largest centre in Middle East, has 365 days of bookings for major fairs, exhibitions and conferences, millions of people are coming in to interact, exchange ideas to form alliances and sellers form all over the globe in search of business from this super-rich region:

The tourism and general traffic to Dubai is at a frantic pace, and people from all over the globe are exploring this to make a major branch operation or Asian head quarters, and this alone has brought a boom to the real-estate markets and foreign investments. There is a certainly a brand new SME business revolution starting in Dubai and spreading all over the GCC countries. Right now, everybody is talking about being Dubai-bound or going GCC.

Research Objectives
1. To determine the challenges faced by small business owners
2. To understand the DRIVERS behind success.

Research Methodology
Research Design
  • Primary Research
  • Secondary Research [External]
  • Qualitative Research
  • In-depth interview of 10 – 15 respondents
  • The interview will last between 35 to 45 minutes
  • Descriptive & Diagnostic research

Sample Methodology

Target Respondents
Small –to-medium enterprise key decision makers

Sample Representation & Sample Size
  • Snowball Sampling/Convenience Sampling
  • In-depth interview of 10 – 15 SME owners

Information Areas Captured

Challenges/Issues Faced
  • Legal
  • Financial
  • Competition
  • SWOT
  • Trend
  • Growth & Limitations
  • Role of Branding

Data Gathering
Interview will be conducted after appointment at either the respondent’s place of work or their preferred venue by a single interviewer.

Data Processing & Analysis
Standard editing and coding procedures will be utilized. Results will be tabulated in Excel

Report Preparation
A written report will be presented.

__________________________________________________________________

ALTERNATIVE #2


Research Title:

The Services Branding Model
Small Service Firms Approach To Building Brand Equity

Research Background

The growth of the service industry has led to increased competition, and branding has become a tool for gaining competitive advantages. Because services are essentially intangible, the branding of services is important and different from the branding of products. A strong brand offers many advantages in the service industry and when evaluating the strength of the brand, the concept of brand equity is used. This research has been conducted to explore how small service firms operate to create brand equity in the everyday work.

Research Objectives
1. To examine how small service firms operate to build brand equity in relation to the Services Branding Model
2. To determine which factors from the Service Branding model play the most important role

Research Methodology
Research Design
  • Primary Research
  • Secondary Research [External]
  • Qualitative Research
  • In-depth interview of 10-12 SME owners
  • Data collected through interviews
  • Descriptive & Diagnostic research


Sample Methodology
Target Respondents
Small –to-medium enterprise key decision makers

Sample Representation & Sample Size
Snowball Sampling/Convenience Sampling
In-depth interview of 10-12 SME owners


Information Areas Captured

Presented Brand
Name
Symbolic Associations
Office Design
Advertising
External Brand Communications
Word Of Mouth
Loyal Customers
Activity to create WOM
Publicity
Customer Experience with the Company
Employees
Internal Marketing
Training
Appraisal Systems

Data Gathering
Interview will be conducted after appointment at either the respondent’s place of work or their preferred venue by a single interviewer.

Data Processing & Analysis

Standard editing and coding procedures will be utilized. Results will be tabulated in Excel

Report Preparation
A written report will be presented.

6 comments:

Greg said...

ALTERNATIVE #1:

I'm having trouble with the first suggestion because a purely qualitative discussion doesn't cut it with me when it comes to general business. I can imagine how it might go easy enough, but in any business meeting the first thing everyone wants to know are the numbers (quantitative). That's all the really matters.

Qualitative discussions, for me at least, are more appropriate for specific aspects of business. It's those things that come after the numbers. Everyone knows the numbers now marketing or production has to describe how they are going to reach those numbers.

I'd be more open to a qualitative approach if you were only focusing on one aspect of SME's, but you mention legal, finance, and marketing. I didn't notice any mention of production, labor, or general resource management. I would assume you would include capital, a huge concern for everyone but especially SME's, in "financial".

I also would not recommend a quantitative approach, and I assume you know why and that is why you focused on qualitative.

I questioned this line: "Mega corporations of the earlier era have increasingly lost their edge to smaller, nimbler organizations, which have sprouted all over the Western landscape."

This might be true for big corps up until the mid-1990's, but from then on many of those pre-90's corps have become adaptive large corporations in this century, and some of the old big corps have learned from them and adapted also.

The main advantages that SME's have are rapid response to the marketplace and cultural localization. Modern large corps respond by creating independent units that act like an SME. Gone are the days where a multi-national acts across the board under a single name.

I don't know if the SME terminology applies anymore. It seems more appropriate to talk in terms of multi-nationals and localized enterprises.

I have no doubt you could pull off this first alternative, despite my gripes. But #2 seems to have less difficulty and more potential.

ALTERNATIVE #2:

Like you suggested in your note, this has the advantage of focusing on one area of business: branding. And you do one better by talking about just Service Branding.

As I mentioned, qualitative data makes sense here because you want to describe business models for successful branding or show how business models are being applied and what works and what doesn't.

I would still like you to address how to distinguish between true SME's and autonomous units of large corps. The business models should be similar except that the autonomous units may have access to more capital.

In both alternatives the type of work you will be doing seems similar. Assuming you put in the same amount of time, you will be able to go into more depth, and therefore produce a more valuable result, with the second alternative because it has a narrow focus.

Random Magus said...

thanks Greg.. I am partial to the second one as well ... I might change the methodology from in depth interview to doing case study of 5-6 firms

Greg said...

I prefer reading case studies. You never know with an interview; you might have gotten the crackpot of the company.

Random Magus said...

... with my luck that's what would happen.

Phil said...

I'd vote for number 2, especially if you are interested in leveraging this paper towards a marketing focused job. Maybe I'm being too practical, but wouldn't it be nice to do research related to an area of business that you would likely get into? That's my bent anyway. I think the first one though has a lot of merit if you are interested in international business. Question to me is what's your greatest interest. Yeah, you may play around with methodologies, but which subject are you most passionate about?

Random Magus said...

I am going to mail no #2 to my professor he was insistent I do the first one but I felt unsure about it from the moment I had suggested it....