Wednesday, 7 February 2018

Ideas for getting started

One of the hardest things when we are faced with writing a project is trying to come up with a field or topic area (context or domain) that we are interested in, and to then narrow things down enough or intersect those ideas with a current theme or issue. Then we reduce our scope even further by thinking about how we might be able to find some primary data on this topic, and our approach or methodology will change what we find again

So to provide some clarity about those three dimensions, those groups I mentioned include the following ideas which, following Veal (2005) we can use to hone in on an idea:
  • Contexts & domains: Human Resources; Industrial Relations; Succession; On-boarding; Retention; Training and Development; Information Technology; International Management; Event management; Project Management; Strategic Management; Governance; Operations Management; Supply Chain; Logistics; Company law; Commercial law; Consumer law; Private sector; Public sector; Not-for-profit; Marketing; Economics; Financial Management; Accounting; Management Accounting; Marketing; Buyer Behaviour.
  • Themes & Issues: Communication; Conflict; Culture; Entrepreneurship; Environment; Ethics; Gender; Ethnicity; Age; Stage; Leadership; Learning organisations; Managerial effectiveness; Motivation; Organisation development and change; Organisational behaviour; Climate change; Corporate Social Responsibility; AI; Digitisation; Technology convergence; career management; decentralisation versus centralisation; globalisation versus localisation; local versus national versus international.
  • Approaches & methodologies: Subjective versus Objective; Positivist versus Critical/interpretive; Qualitative versus quantitative; Inductive versus deductive; Experimental versus non-experimental; Theory-building versus theory-confirming; Primary data versus secondary data; Self-reported versus Observed; Questionnaire-based surveys versus interviews versus Case study methods versus observations versus Focus groups. Exploratory versus descriptive versus explanatory.
For example, saying "I like the idea of doing something in HR" can become an HR domain project looking at the theme of succession conflict in small local companies with a subjective approach using a qualitative, inductive interview methodology. That gets us a lot closer to determining what our actual research question will be.

Robert Barcik also has come good ideas for starting which can be viewed here:

Hope that helps you get started!


  • Barcik, R. (2016). 1.4 Choosing A Research Topic and Idea. Retrieved 5 February 2018 from
  • Veal, A. J. (2005). Business Research Methods (Second Edition). Australia: Pearson Education (p. 20)

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