You are currently writing your thesis or are just in the initial phase and ask yourself: “ What is actually my result? “You have a specific research question but you don’t know exactly what a result might look like? I would like to explain three possible ways of finding the results of a thesis in more detail.

Hypotheses

Theses are not subject to any specific set of rules and are therefore vaguely defined. In science, however, one uses the hypothesis which is more specifically defined and creates a connection between at least two variables. Examples are:

  • Agile companies generate more sales than traditional companies.
  • With Scrum, work results can be achieved faster than with Kanban.
  • Employees in agile teams require less salary than employees in traditional teams.

You will notice that I always put 2 variables in context. You have the following options for deriving hypotheses in your thesis:

  • Formulate hypotheses at the beginning of a thesis
  • Derive hypotheses from the literature analysis

Hypotheses have the advantage that they are easy to derive and even easier to evaluate using academic methods. In doing so, you collect targeted data on the selected hypothesis. The result of a thesis is then always the valid hypotheses. I would like to give two examples of this.

Reading tip: Difference between qualitative and quantitative research

Example 1: quantitative thesis

In the first example, let’s take a thesis with a literature analysis and a classic online survey, which you evaluate statistically. You have 10 questions that ask a project manager about the importance of online tools.

Now it’s very simple: take your hypotheses and break them down into variables. You query these variables individually and check afterwards in a correlation analysis whether they are true or not. The advantage is that you substantiate each hypothesis with concrete figures. There are two examples below:

  • Hypothesis 1: Younger managers are better trained in using agile methods.
  • Question 1.1: How old is your current manager (19-35, 35-45, 45-67)?
  • Question 1.2: How do you rate your manager’s level of knowledge of agile methods (scale 1-5)?
  • Correlation: Check whether all participants who have stated that they have a manager under the age of 35 also state that they have know-how on agility
  • (at least 4).
  • Hypothesis 2: Video conferences are suitable for virtual project teams for handing over large task packages.
  • Question 2.1: Which virtual tools do you use when handing over large task packages?
  • Question 2.2: How satisfied are you with these tools?
  • Correlation: Check whether participants who chose video conferencing in question 1 also rated it as good in question 2.

Reading tip: survey

Example 2: Qualitative thesis

If you should do a qualitative check of the hypotheses, then it is also quite easy. Simply take your hypotheses as questions and ask the experts for an assessment. The advantage of this methodology is that you examine each hypothesis in greater depth. Always ask: Do you agree with this hypothesis and give reasons for your answer.

Reading tip: Expert interviews

Recommendations for action

Recommendations for action are advice derived from the data of the thesis. These are usually aimed at practitioners and are intended to help with everyday life in companies. The advantage is that this is especially useful for questions about: “ What did you find out in your thesis? “help as well as are a compact overview for practitioners.

I very often give recommendations for action in my studies and papers. I do notice, however, that this procedure is also very controversial. On the one hand, some are completely convinced of it and other academics are not. The reason is that recommendations for action are often vague. I therefore recommend discussing this with your supervisor.

Ideally, you can easily derive recommendations for action from your confirmed hypotheses. For example, if two variables are correct, then you have a recommendation for action. If you have found out, for example, that the participants like to use Scrum Teams for projects with a volume of more than 5 million euros, you can derive a recommendation for action from this. This is the easy case. I would like to give another example of recommendations for action without hypotheses.

Example: Deriving recommendations for action at the end of the work

Let’s assume that you are writing a thesis on the influence of agility on project success. You read literature and spoke to 5 experts whether the findings from the literature can also be used in day-to-day project work. Now you have to convert the results into concrete recommendations for action.

First of all, check whether statements from the practice partners can be converted directly into tips. For example, an expert says: “ We always use Scrum for remote projects because control is only possible on a task-related basis anyway “. An initial recommendation for action can be derived from this.

Look further if certain variables can be drawn from your interview questions. If, for example, you have asked about stumbling blocks or obstacles in projects, these are usually followed by recommendations for action or if something was denied by the majority of the participants, this has the potential for a recommendation to avoid something. Examples of such statements are:

  • We mostly use Kanban in our company because Scrum is too extensive for us (best practice).
  • We often have longer conversations via email and there is often a lot of arguments (stumbling block).

Tip: If you have still started your work, I recommend working with hypotheses and deriving recommendations for action from them. Otherwise they generalize individual statements about what is contestable.

Frameworks

The primary purpose of creating a framework is to visually represent complex issues. So it’s a kind of orientation, for example in organizational development. The conception of a framework is a research method and is called Reference modeling.

Usually you take existing hypotheses or data from which you build a framework. This also visualizes the facts again and is particularly worthwhile for facts that are difficult to explain. Examples of well-known agile frameworks are for example:

Tip: Frameworks don’t always have to be pure images. Text constructs such as Porter’s Five Forces or the SWOT analysis be.

Example: My agile framework

In my study on agility, I examined how agility can be increased in a classic SME. More information on the specific content of the framework is available in Article on Roundtable 2.

Important: Always limit the fact that your reference model is always only a ready-made solution scheme for a possible situation in reality and is therefore not always unreservedly valid in practice.

For the conception of a reference model, the practical problem is first of all recorded, a frame of reference is formed and then the solution to the problem is presented. In my model, the research question is taken as a practical problem: How can agility be increased in an SME?

I took a fictitious SME as a frame of reference. Last but not least, I implemented the participants’ recommendations for action into the framework. Examples are: central services with little agility and small agile units (startups).

Agile organization
A company as a molecule. The participants use the metaphor from physics to create a model for evolutionary companies (Lindner and Leyh 2019)

Conclusion

Which result you ultimately want to draw in your work is up to you and depends on the research question. In most cases, I recommend relying on hypotheses or, if possible, on recommendations for action (be sure to ask the supervisor beforehand), as these are valuable for the practice and you could enclose an application or with me in Can post blog.

If you have any questions, please feel free to give me a call. To do this, simply look in the booking system for a free appointment . I take a few hours every month to help students.

Image source: Pixabay

Lindner, D., & Leyh, C. (2018). Organizations in Transformation: Agility as Consequence or Prerequisite of Digitization? BT – Business Information Systems. In W. Abramowicz & A. Paschke (Eds.) (Pp. 86-101). Cham: Springer International Publishing.

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Dr. Dominic Lindner
Author

I blog about the influence of digitalization on our working world. For this purpose, I provide content from science in a practical way and show helpful tips from my everyday professional life. I am an executive in an SME and I wrote my doctoral thesis at the University of Erlangen-Nuremberg at the Chair of IT Management.

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