International Business

Bachelor thesis

Welcome at our department!

 

In General

Selected aspects of business administration are deepened by writing and presenting a bachelor thesis.
The students work on and analyze a business-related topic specified by the professorship. They use relevant specialist literature to work up the topic. In this context, they learn to deal critically with practical and theoretical questions in the field of research and to evaluate relevant articles. In addition to writing the written work, you present the results by means of a presentation.

 

Every July, students have to specify at which department they wish to write their B.Sc. thesis in the following academic year. Subsequently, students are centrally allocated to a department for which to write their thesis. Every effort is made to allocate students to the department of their first choice, but this might not always be possible. If you have been allocated to write your thesis at the Department of International Business (DoIB), you will find all necessary information on this website.

Key facts

Length: 25 to 30 pages

Presentation: compulsory

Attendance at the Research Methodology seminar: compulsory

Writing period: 10 weeks

Please note: the thesis has to be written in English and there are no exceptions to this rule.

Topics Summer term 2020

1. Determinants of power in multinational teams

Although teamwork is generally seen as a more egalitarian management context compared to traditional hierarchies, teams are still typically characterized by power differences between individual team members. Power is defined as the employee’s control over socially valued resources.

Team members can derive power from a range of different sources. Scholars have named expertise, charisma and legitimate authority as possible sources of power differentials in teams. Whereas these factors can be relevant in any team, the power dynamics in multinational teams, i.e. teams composed of members with different national and cultural backgrounds, may also be affected by proximity to headquarters, language proficiency, power distance orientation or other aspects.

The B.Sc. thesis should critically review possible determinants of power differentials in multinational teams and formulate recommendations for multinational team management.

Greer, L. L. 2014. Power in teams: effects of team power structures on team conflict and team outcomes. In: Handbook of Research in Conflict Management. Cheltenham, UK: Edward Edgar Publishing., pp. 93-108

Pantelli, N. & Tucker, R. 2009. Power and trust in global virtual teams. Communications of the ACM, 52(12), pp. 113-115.

Levy, O. & Reiche, B.S. 2018. The politics of cultural capital: Social hierarchy and organizational architecture in the multinational corporation. Human Relations, 71(6), pp. 867-894

2. Building team identity across national cultural boundaries

Over the last decade many multinational companies have globally integrated their operations. This has led to a growing importance of multinational teams, which are expected to generate innovative solutions, integrate knowledge and implement complex business strategies. These important and complex tasks can only be fulfilled if team members work closely together. To ensure the necessary trustful cooperation, a shared sense of team identity has to be developed. However, this is difficult to achieve in multinational teams, since identifications with national subgroups compete with the team identification. Leaders of multinational teams therefore need to make specific efforts to prevent subgroup formation and strengthen team identity.

This B.Sc. thesis should critically review the challenges for the formation of a shared identity in multinational teams, considering in particular social identity and social categorization theories. On this basis, recommendations for team building measures should be developed.

Gundlach, M., Zivnuska, S. & Stoner, J. 2006. Understanding the relationship between individualism -collectivism and team performance through an integration of social identity theory and the social relations model. Human Relations, 59(12), pp. 1603-1632.

Gardner, J., Paulsen, N., Gallois, C., Callan, V. & Monaghan, P. 2001. Communication in organizations: An intergroup perspective. In Robinson, W.P. & Giles, H. (Eds), The New Handbook of Language and Social Psychology. Wiley, pp. 561-583.

Salk, J.E., & Brannen, M.Y. 2000. National culture, networks, and individual influence in a multinational management team. Academy of Management Journal, 43(2), pp. 191-202.

3. Leadership in multinational teams

Multinational teams have become more and more important for multinational companies due to their ability to integrate a variety of perspectives and skills. However, the cultural diversity between team members confronts these teams with a range of challenges. For example, they need to manage conflicts across members’ national cultural boundaries, deal with coordination and control issues, maintain communication richness, and develop and uphold team cohesiveness.

Multinational teams consist of team members and a team leader from diverse cultural backgrounds. Team leaders are supposed to have certain personal characteristics, such as openness and flexibility. They must address the challenges arising from a workforce of differing nationalities and cultural backgrounds.

This B.Sc. thesis should critically review the literature on leadership, especially in the multinational team context and highlight the characteristics, skills and techniques a multinational team leader needs in order to successfully manage a multinational team.

Zander, L., Mockaitis, A. I. and Butler, C. L. 2012. Leading global teams. Journal of World Business, 47(4), pp. 592–603

Vogelgesang, G., Clapp-Smith, R., & Osland, J. 2014. The Relationship Between Positive Psychological Capital and Global Mindset in the Context of Global Leadership. Journal of Leadership & Organizational Studies, 21(2), pp.165–178

Tröster, C, & van Knippenberg, D. 2012. Leader openness, nationality dissimilarity, and voice in multinational management teams. Journal of International Business Studies, 43(6), pp. 591-613

4. Cultural intelligence and its impact on the willingness and success for expatriation

Research on expatriation has been a popular topic in international business for more than four decades. Given the increasing amount of expatriate assignments in an increasingly international business environment, the issue of how expatriates adjust to foreign cultures and perform in their jobs has become increasingly relevant. As expatriate failure has negative consequences both for the organization and the expatriate, selecting the right candidate for an international assignment is of high importance.

One characteristic that appears to contribute to overcoming the challenges of expatriation is cultural intelligence. Cultural intelligence consists of different (meta-)cognitive, motivational and behavioural components and can be viewed as the ability of a person to adapt to an unfamiliar situation and correctly interpret communication across different cultures.

This B.Sc. thesis should critically review the literature on cultural intelligence in the context of expatriation and explore in particular the relevance of cultural intelligence for the ability to have a successful expatriation assignment.

Earley,P.E., Murnieks,C., Mosakowski,E. 2007.Cultural Intelligence and the Global Mindset, in Mansour Javidan, Richard M. Steers, Michael A. Hitt (ed.) The Global Mindset (Advances in International Management, Volume 19)Emerald Group Publishing Limited, pp.75 –103 Hippler, T., Caligiuri, P. & Johnson, J. 2014. Revisiting the construct of expatriate adjustment. International Studies of Management & Organization, 44(3), pp. 8-24

Lee, L.-Y. and Sukoco, B. M. 2010. The effects of cultural intelligence on expatriate performance: the moderating effects of international experience. International Journal of Human Resource Management, 21(7), pp. 963–981.

Huff, K. C. 2013. Language, cultural intelligence and expatriate success’, Management Research Review, 36(6), pp. 596–612.

5. Repatriation issues in the context of expatriation

Creating organizational processes which nurture global careers is a key task for global companies. Expatriation assignments are normally viewed as positive by both individuals and organizations for the development of global career competencies.

One of the biggest obstacles that expatriates face is readjusting to work at headquarters once their overseas assignment has ended. Research suggests that the return to one’s home country after having finished an international assignment is subject to adjustment challenges similar to those of the initial transfer. Even when multinational companies invest a significant amount of effort to meet the compensation and benefit needs of expatriates, they must apply the same amount of energy to ensure that expatriates’ concerns are met once they return to their home country.

The B.Sc thesis should critically review the challenges associated with repatriation, both from an expatriate’s perspective and from the company’s perspective and give recommendations for how to cope with these challenges.

Black, J. S., Gregersen, H. B., & Mendenhall, M. E. 1992. Toward a theoretical framework of repatriation adjustment. Journal of International Business Studies, pp. 737-760.

Gomez-Mejia, L., & Balkin, D. B. 1987. The determinants of managerial satisfaction with the expatriation and repatriation process. Journal of Management Development, 6(1), pp. 7-17.

Kraimer, M, Shaffer, M, Harrison, D, & Ren, H. 2012. No Place Like Home? An Identity Strain Perspective on Repatriate Turnover. Academy of Management Journal, 55(2), pp. 399-420

Burmeister, A, Lazarova, MB & Deller, J. 2018. Repatriate knowledge transfer: Antecedents and boundary conditions of a dyadic process. Journal of World Business, 53(6), pp. 806–816

6. Beyond expatriation: New forms of international assignments

In recent years, multinational companies have an increasing demand for international assignees, while the supply of qualified candidates appears not to grow to the same extent. The insufficient supply of suitable candidates may be connected to dual career issues, the limited participation of women in international assignments, issues around repatriation, and deficiencies of talent management systems at an international level.

In the light of these developments, organizations are frequently re-evaluating their international assignment policies. As a result, we are witnessing the emergence of a portfolio of new international assignment forms such as short-term assignments, international business travellers, rotational assignments, international commuter assignments, or virtual assignments.

The B.Sc. thesis should critically review the advantages and drawbacks of the various emerging forms of international assignments and formulate recommendations for global staffing policies.

Tahvanainen, M., Welch, D. & Worm, V. 2005. Implications of short-term international assignments. European Management Journal, 23(6), pp. 663-673.

Collings, D. G. and Scullion, H. 2009. Global staffing. International Journal of Human Resource Management, 20(6), pp. 1249–1252.

Welch, D.E. & Worm, V. 2006. International business travellers: a challenge for IHRM. In: G. Stahl and I. Björkman (eds), Handbook of Research in International Human Resource Management, pp. 283-301. Cheltenham: Edward Elgar.

Duvivier, F; Peeters, C & Harzing, A-W. 2019. Not all international assignments are created equal: HQ-subsidiary knowledge transfer patterns across types of assignments and types of knowledge. Journal of World Business, 54(3), pp. 181–190

7. Expatriation and career progression

Research on expatriation has been a popular topic in international business for more than four decades. Given the increasing amount of expatriate assignments in an increasingly international business environment, the issue of what motivates potential expatriates to go abroad and perform in their jobs has become increasingly important.

One factor that is often mentioned in regards to expatriation willingness is the perceived probability of a promotion after a successful expatriation. However, these hopes are not always fulfilled due to a number of problems ranging from expatriate failure to organizational planning.

This B.Sc. thesis should critically review the actual and perceived outcomes of expatriation on an individual’s career progression.

Froese, F. J., Jommersbach, S. and Klautzsch, E. 2013. Cosmopolitan career choices: a cross-cultural study of job candidates’ expatriation willingness. International Journal of Human Resource Management, 24(17), pp. 3247–3261

Georgakakis, D., Dauth, T. and Ruigrok, W. 2016. Too much of a good thing: Does international experience variety accelerate or delay executives’ career advancement?. Journal of World Business, 51(3), pp. 425–437.

Benson, G. S. and Pattie, M. 2008. Is expatriation good for my career? The impact of expatriate assignments on perceived and actual career outcomes. International Journal of Human Resource Management, 19(9), pp. 1636–1653

Suutari, V., Tornikoski, C. and Mäkelä, L. 2012. Career decision making of global careerists’, International Journal of Human Resource Management, 23(16), pp. 3455–3478

 

8. The impact of a common corporate language in multinational corporations

Due to increasing internationalization, multinational corporations often introduce a corporate language for global communication among their employees. English is the main choice for the internal common language, given its position as lingua franca of international business, but at times it is also the headquarters language.

However, speaking in a foreign language, even if one masters it relatively well, can also result in linguistic and cultural communicative problems. Therefore, companies have to be aware of these consequences and consider them in their language management.

The B.Sc. thesis should outline the consequences of a common corporate language in multinational companies. On this basis, proposals should be formulated of how to manage a common corporate language policy.

Feely, A.; Harzing, A. 2003. Language Management in Multinational Companies. Cross Cultural Management, 10(2), pp. 37-52.

Marschan-Piekkari, R.; Welch, D.; Welch, L. 1999. Adopting a Common Corporate Language: IHRM Implications. The International Journal of Human Resource Management, 10(3), pp. 377-390.

Tange, H.; Lauring, J. 2009. Language management and social interaction within the multilingual workplace. Journal of Communication Management, 13(3), pp. 218-232.

9. The impact of culture on knowledge transfer in multinational companies

Multinational corporations have to manage knowledge across their entire corporate network. However, knowledge transfer across national borders is a complex task, given the cultural differences between the geographically dispersed units of multinational companies.

When multinational enterprises expand to foreign markets, they need to transfer knowledge about existing corporate practices to their subsidiaries. At the same time, locally generated knowledge that might open new opportunities for the company as a whole needs to be transferred to headquarters and other units of the corporation. As MNCs are comprised of employees from different nationalities, culture and cultural differences can have an impact on knowledge transfer processes.

The B.Sc. thesis should critically review the existing literature on knowledge transfer in multinational companies and discuss the role of culture in the knowledge transfer process. The dissertation should give recommendations on how multinational companies may establish effective mechanisms in order to motivate interunit knowledge transfer across borders.

Van Wijk, R, Jansen, JP, & Lyles, MA. 2008. Inter- and intra-organizational knowledge transfer: A metanalytic review and assessment of its antecedents and consequences. Journal of Management Studies,45(4), pp. 830-853.

Yongsun, P, & Choi, D. 2005. The shortcomings of a standardized global knowledge management system: The case study of Accenture. Academy of Management Executive, 19(2), pp. 81-84.

Ardichvili, A., Maurer, M., Li, W., Wentling, T., & Stuedemann, R. 2006, Cultural influences on knowledge sharing through online communities of practice. Journal of Knowledge Management, 10(1), pp. 94-107.

10. Managing knowledge in multinational companies through expatriates

In an organizational context, knowledge management has the task to actively develop and transfer knowledge through certain structures, processes and systems. The goal is to keep, develop and spread the knowledge acquired in order to achieve innovation and higher performance. Multinational corporations (MNCs) are particularly faced with challenges that arise when knowledge has to be managed between headquarter (HQ) and subsidiaries. Geographically dispersed locations and culturally diverse members of the MNC require more complex solutions to transfer and develop knowledge.

Researchers have found out that expatriates can play an important role in the knowledge management of MNCs. In order to transfer knowledge from HQ to subsidiaries and back, expatriates with special functional knowledge can play an important role by taking key positions in subsidiaries for a certain period of time. But what are the success factors, challenges and limitations of this method of knowledge transfer? And which contextual factors influence the success, challenges and limitations of knowledge management through expatriates?

The B.Sc. thesis should critically review the literature on knowledge management in MNCs. On this basis, the role of expatriates in knowledge management should be discussed.

Duvivier, F; Peeters, C & Harzing, A-W. 2019. Not all international assignments are created equal: HQ-subsidiary knowledge transfer patterns across types of assignments and types of knowledge. Journal of World Business, 54(3), pp. 181–190

Hajro, A.; Pudelko, M. 2007. Multinational teams in the context of organizational culture: A multi-company case study. Best Paper Proceedings, Academy of Management Annual Meeting.

Zellmer-Bruhn, M.; Gibson, C. 2006. Multinational organization context: Implications for team learning and performance. Academy of Management Journal, 49(3), pp. 501-518.

Fang, Y., Jiang, G., Makino, S., Beamish, P. 2010. Multinational firm knowledge, use of expatriates, and foreign subsidiary performance. Journal of Management Studies, 47(1), pp. 27-54.

11. Benefits and drawbacks of multicultural employees

Multiculturals are characterized by identifying with two or more cultures. Due to their characteristics, such as their ability to effectively switch between cultures and languages, multiculturals can be of relevance in overcoming the negative effects of of cultural boundaries that exist between coworkers.

Under favourable conditions, multicultural experiences may result in personal strengths such as cross-cultural adaptation, intercultural effectiveness, frame switching, greater flexibility and less ethnocentric attitudes. However, under unfavourable conditions such experiences may result in emotional distress and psychological vulnerability.

This B.Sc. thesis should critically review the benefits and drawbacks associated with multicultural employees and give an overview of their special skills and knowledge. On this basis recommendations should be made how such skills can be used to the MNCs advantage.

Szymanski, M., Fitzsimmons, S. R. and Danis, W. M. 2019. Multicultural managers and competitive advantage: Evidence from elite football teams. International Business Review, 28(2), pp. 305–315.

Fitzsimmons, S. R., Miska, C. and Stahl, G. K. 2011. Multicultural employees: Global business’ untapped resource. Organizational Dynamics, 40(3), pp. 199–206

Fitzsimmons, S., Liao, Y. and Thomas, D. 2017. From crossing cultures to straddling them: An empirical examination of outcomes for multicultural employees. Journal of International Business Studies, 48(1), pp. 63–89

12. Generational differences in the workplace

Research on generational differences has been a popular topic in academic literature for many decades. Given the increasing number of Millennial (or: Generation Y) employees in today’s business environment, the issue of how the different generations conduct themselves and interact with each other in a business setting has become increasingly important.
A generation is defined as a cohort of individuals, which were born in a particular period of years and were influenced by the socio-political events that occur throughout the life course of the birth cohort, particularly while the cohort comes of age.  
To date three generational cohorts, make up the majority of the workforce: Baby Boomers, Generation X and Generation Y. Baby Boomer (born between ~1946 and 1964) employees used to be the majority in corporations and were associated with strong work ethic, placing work life above personal life. In contrast Generation X workers (born between ~ 1965 and 1980) are attributed with cynical and sceptical attitudes towards their employers and are said to be less loyal towards organizations. The Millennial generation or Generation Y (born between ~1980 and 2000) are said to be confident, team-oriented and place a high importance on work-life balance. Generation Z (born between ~1990/200 and today) are the newest generational cohort to come of age and are attributed with a pragmatic view of the world, shaped by the financial crisis and digitalization.
This B.Sc. thesis should critically discuss the existing academic literature on how different generations think and act differently at the workplace and analyse how employing organisations have to react to those changing patterns in order to continue to attract a high performing workforce.
 
 
Benson, J. and Brown, M. 2011. Generations at work: are there differences and do they matter? International Journal of Human Resource Management, 22(9), pp. 1843–1865.
Parry, E. and Urwin, P. 2011. Generational Differences in Work Values: A Review of Theory and Evidence. International Journal of Management Reviews, 13(1), pp. 79–96.
Smola, K. W. & Sutton, C. D. 2002. Generational Differences: Revisiting Generational Work Values for the New Millennium. Journal of Organizational Behavior, 23(4), pp. 363–382
Becton, J. B., Walker, H. J. and Jones, F. A. 2014. Generational differences in workplace behaviour. Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 44(3), pp. 175–189.
 

Parts

Mandatory:

Kick off & Methodology seminar
2-days Seminar
Topic allocation at the 2. day

Submission
10 weeks after the Kick off & Methodology seminar
as print and pdf document

Presentations
2-days seminar
round about 2 weeks after submission

Optional components:
individual consultation with your supervisor - more information during the Kick off & Methodology seminar

Time schedule and process

Topic/part Winter term Summer term
Application period August February
Confirmation 15.09. 15.03.
Withdrawal possible 30.09. 31.03.
Kick off & Methodology seminar 2-day seminar - around 01.11. 2-day seminar - around 01.05.
Submission 10 weeks after the Kick off & methodology seminar - current dates here
Presentations 2 weeks after the submission - current dates here

 

Application

Necessary!
If you have been centrally allocated, you are guaranteed a seminar place. However, you still have to register separately.

Type of registration: Online form

(Here available during the registration period. Please note: Confirmation e-mails are not sent during the application period!)

Marking

ECTS-Credits: 12