Monday, March 27, 2017

Thesis update

I see that it has been three weeks since I last wrote about my new thesis. Whilst there has been communication with the university, I have yet to hear anything definite about the research's future. It would seem that the university is not a flexible SME (small/medium enterprise)! In the mean time, I have been working on the thesis, applying what I learnt from the first version.

In the past three weeks, I have expanded the introduction, writing mainly about the strategic value of information systems. I also included a paragraph about SAP, which claims to be the best selling program in the ERP market whilst being complex and suitable only for large organisations; I thought this necessary as much of the literature refers to SAP implementations.

The literature survey has been greatly expanded, beginning with a section on SME flexibility (hence the joke in the opening paragraph). Following this is a brief section on 'Not Invented Here' syndrome, which I think is relevant; as most of the current literature on this subject is about something called 'open innovation', I only cited a few papers without giving any details. Then come expanded sections on misfits and enhancements, followed finally by the literature synthesis. 

The third chapter, methodology, is the one that gave me the most problems in its previous incarnation, and it still is problematic for me. As the methodology which I am going to use is the opposite of what was before, most of the prior material was useless, although I was able to use a certain amount by converting it to the new methodology. Whilst looking for literature about case studies, I came across a recent DBA thesis (not from my university) about the success of CRM (Customer Relationship Management) programs; Priority has an underdeveloped CRM module which I have expanded somewhat by means of enhancements, but it isn't used very much. This other thesis should theoretically be very useful, but I found it jargon-loaded and very hard to read. Its major contribution to me was that it mentioned using Grounded Theory as its basis.

There were a few paragraphs about Grounded Theory in one of the DBA preparatory courses (I haven't been able to find them again) which I didn't particularly understand when I first read it. This time, I devoted some time to the subject, looking for suitable references and papers. I found a very good paper from 2013 which explains not only what GT is, but how it is applied, what criteria must be met, etc. Quoting this material certainly fills out the section about GT; I can then refer to the criteria when discussing my case study-based methodology.

At the moment, I think that I have reached the objectives which I set myself a few weeks ago: the introduction includes a great deal of material, the literature survey covers (to a certain extent) the four topics that I consider relevant, and the methodology chapter is covers what it should. I probably should add some material which shows how my methodology meets the criteria of GT - or not; I don't think that it is 'GT complete', but this is not necessarily required.

The thesis ends at the moment with a restating of the questions which the research intends to address; I don't know at the moment how to continue from here but expect to hear from my advisers what to write.

So now, I'm going to cease work for the time being in anticipation of a favourable message from the university.

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