MBA dissertation - HR related

(7 Posts)
athelophobic Sun 07-Feb-16 20:49:49

First year MBA student here: we've been asked to get started on our dissertation proposals, and while I have some ideas, I'm having trouble getting my thoughts straight.

My undergrad degree is in Psychology (dissertation was qualitative), and I want my current dissertation to be organisational psychology/HR related (the only modules that have truly interested me so far), tending towards quantitative research this time.

My interests are employee stress and wellbeing, absenteeism and organisational commitment.

Our instructions are that this needs to be "applied" research, ideally to solve a problem our employer has, which is where I'm having trouble. My initial plan had been to carry out research within my own organisation (with HR's permission), but do I hammer out a title and go to HR with it, or should I approach them first and then work out a research question based on that?

Ideally I would measure two or three variables, but can't figure out how to turn that into applied research/problem solving.

Can someone knowledgeable take pity on a lost student please?

EBearhug Sun 07-Feb-16 20:55:00

I don't have experience, but I would have a couple of ideas ready and then talk to HR before getting too far into the details.

NK5BM3 Tue 16-Feb-16 20:48:55

I would suggest you go in with a global issue. Eg employee engagement or trust levels. Or communication. These will inevitably allow you to measure variables like absenteeism, stress, commitment etc.

Hope this helps. I can't say what I am but I'm v close to the Mba world. wink

MatildaBeetham Fri 19-Feb-16 08:52:48

Do you have any experience of any of these issues yourself? That can be a good way to work out what you want to do. And what suits you methodology-wise. E.g. you could do an ethnographic study of your workplace, if you have sufficient access. Or if you want more control / have less access, semi-structured interviews.

You could also begin with your organisation's policies around stress, absence and so on. Whether there is occupational health support, what training or briefing managers get. This could give you some ideas.

I would bear in mind that this is a topic that will require considerable attention to ethics, especially if you're proposing qualitative work with employees with stress, particularly if you work there too. If you think this might be an issue, you could consider approaching it from the POV of mangers, how do they feel about stress, what do they do, etc.

Good luck.

athelophobic Fri 19-Feb-16 13:37:08

Thank you for your replies - Matilda, I will definitely bear ethical issues in mind. My undergrad dissertation was not at all ethically sensitive so going through ethics process will be new to me.

I have emailed HR about potential topics they may have already identified as needing research, and am awaiting a reply (most likely will result in a meeting with the HR director). Once I have a topic settled, I will start looking for a supervisor... proposals are due by the end of June, so I think I should be covered time-wise.

mouldycheesefan Fri 19-Feb-16 14:03:28

Hi, I have supported employees with various HR dissertations as well as doing my own many moons ago.
Things to consider:
-presumably your organisation is supporting your MBA either through sponsorship or time off etc so they may in return expect you to do your research around a specific issue they have. I had no choice as to the subject I did. Even if they are not sponsoring you or giving time off if you want them to allow you research access then agreeing with them a mutua topic of interest is key. Be flexible!
-everyone always wants to do well being and stress! So if this has already been done to death that option may be gone. If they do allow you to do this it well be linked to harder metrics like absence rather than feel good well being. I personally wouldn't be keen on this as a topic in our organisation.
-research methods, these are key. What access do you need? Company stats, personal information eg sickness records, will you be interviewing people or doing focus groups if so who? How would stressed employees be identified? Questionnaires, surveys etc?How would the sensitively handled etc etc
-Go to the meeting with a few ideas, you may have to sell your idea and negotiate. . If it topic the company see genuinely to have benefit they are much more likely to support and that opens doors for research.
-literature, if you have to do a literature review make sure you are choosing something where is plenty of literature.
-finally, working on something that is a genuine business issue will get you more kudos, more support and possibly a better dissertation than A pet project..

Good luck!

LPickers Sat 27-Feb-16 09:42:19

Hi, I was a HR Advisor before having babies - Mouldycheesefan has got some good advice. The topics you have chosen are quite broad and you will need to narrow them down.

It's likely that the HR department knows about areas within the business that need addressing. They will be specific to your particular company. Explain what you're interested in, but ask about any issues/trends in the company that they are aware of.

They will advise if there are known problem areas (they could be avoiding dealing with it, or there could already be a plan in place to research a particular issue). For example, in my last place of work we had issues around long working hours for particular sectors and groups of workers. There were also obvious barriers to woman wanting to reach certain senior posts. Also, the CEO was very concerned about the high turn-over and why people were leaving the company. We had a lot of people on long-term sickness for a long long time (e.g. more than two years). Short-term and long-term absence are very different issues - the HR Advisors will probably know lots about this as they will deal with them.

The HR dept will be able to tell you what sources of information are available - reporting, policies, sickness records, who to speak to, etc.

The reason you need to make it relevant to your company is that you will find it a lot easier to research something that is already an issue as there will be a wealth of information for you to gather, and the HR dept will be more likely to help. Employees will be a lot more willing to talk to you about sensitive issues (make sure you stress that everything is confidential and anonymous) if they have strong feelings about the topic you choose.

Hope that helps x

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