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Dissertation topics revisited

Prepared by Prof. Anh Tho  Andres, Dr Nguyen Huu Than.

Instructions: Please choose the topic for your final dissertation for the Eng-4-MBA English Preparatory Class by week 8 of the course.

1. Topic one: Banking and FinanceDissertation Assignment #1
  • Review course material on the topic available under sbi-training.com e-College.
  • Watch the Learn with You Tube series of  videos I posted on this topic, use this link.
  • Submit your assignment on your own blog announced on Forum-4-Creativity.
2. Topic two: International Trade. Dissertation Assignment #2
  • Review course material on the topic available under sbi-training.com e-College.
  • Watch the Learn with You Tube series of  videos I posted on this topic, use this link.
  • Submit your assignment on your own blog announced on Forum-4-Creativity.
3. Topic three: Organisational Communication. Dissertation Assignment #3
  • Review course material on the topic available under sbi-training.com e-College.
  • Watch the Learn with You Tube series of  videos I posted on this topic, use this link.
  • Submit your assignment on your own blog announced on Forum-4-Creativity.
4. Topic four: Human Resource ManagementDissertation Assignment #4
  • Review course material on the topic available under sbi-training.com e-College.
  • Watch the Learn with You Tube series of  videos I posted on this topic, use this link.
  • Submit your assignment on your own blog announced on Forum-4-Creativity.
5. Topic five: Corporate Social ResponsibilityDissertation Assignment #5
  • Review course material on the topic available under sbi-training.com e-College.
  • Watch the Learn with You Tube series of  videos I posted on this topic, use this link.
  • Submit your assignment on your own blog announced on Forum-4-Creativity.
6. Topic six: Marketing Strategy and PlanningDissertation Assignment #6
  • Review course material on the topic available under sbi-training.com e-College.
  • Watch the Learn with You Tube series of  videos I posted on this topic, use this link.
  • Submit your assignment on your own blog announced on Forum-4-Creativity.

Why write a thesis-6?

Yesterday was my 65th birthday, so I took time to celebrate – by not working on this blog – although initially, I wanted to dedicate the day to make an overview of my own spiritual and intellectual evolution through the years…

Well, after all, a short overview would not do any harm to my readers here to know on my own evolution, and for myself, it helps to get a clearer picture of me – seen from the 65th year’s perspective wisdom, ha ha!

Comparatively to my compatriots, my childhood was a good and happy one, with my first years at the French Couvent des Oiseaux, then at the French Lycée Yersin in Dalat. I wrote about my childhood education in my book “Back to Square One (2007)” with all the best sweet memories that came to my mind. As a matter of fact, I am grateful that the education of my first years contributed so much in what is part of my “good” ME of today.

In a nutshell, coming from a family with long traditions of studying – just like mine – did help a lot. Although when it came to my generation, we were caught in the midst of the Cold War during which I was doing my secondary schooling (1965-1975), we still had access to all the course material and infrastructure needed for our education. It is useful to remind the younger generation readers that at the time, the internet did not exist, nor did computers, and hardly any television. So the source of knowledge came mainly from movies, books, and private coach trainers after school.

As the training programme at school for our exams – the French Baccalaureate being the ultimate goal – were quite intensive, most of us were sent to private tuition after class for Maths, Physics and Science topics mainly. Apart from those hard core matters, foreign language learning such as English, Japanese (and occasionally German) were part of the extra-curricular activities (in addition to French which was the main working language at school, with Vietnamese as a second language in our main curriculum). Most of parents, including mine, would encourage us to join and pay extra for all these classes. Consequently, those activities were part of our childhood life in the small town of Dalat which had only less than 100’000 inhabitants.

At one stage of my life, I did an attempt to review the list of readings I had done at each stage of development, but the list became so long and I have not finished it yet…So, within the short framework of this blog, if my memory does not play tricks on me, my best recall was that we all started with the animated of Walt Disney books or films, then the Trilby and Madame de Segur’s French-speaking collection for children, followed by the classics collection of French literature and other foreign classical authors. Many authors still remain my favorites until today: Tolstoy, Dostoievski, Goethe, Victor Hugo, Alexandre Dumas, Anatole France, Balzac, Maupassant, Stendahl, Blaise Pascal, Rousseau, H.C. Andersen, Shakespeare, Dickens, Austen, the Bronte Sisters, MarkTwain, etc…

I would add some more to the list on authors I discovered during my doctoral research training in Paris with more philosophical or political authors such as Durkheim, Aristotle, Platon, Spinoza, Kant, Hume, Nietzsche, Rawls, Sanders, Arendt etc. which were part of the recommended reading list for the first Seminary of Epistemology and Research Methodolology. In parallel, the list of economist thinkers were added, to include the classical authors of the liberal schools (Durkheim, Weber, Smith, Ricardo, Locke, Keynes, Friedman, Hayek, etc). By the time I finished my thesis, I stopped counting the names of those I have not “seen”, as it seems that there were an explosion of theories, and started thinking in terms of schools of thoughts (moral theories, social contract theories, existentialism, structuralism, positivism, ethics, logics, political philosophy which includes the schools of neo classical liberalism, post-modern, critical theory, libertarianism, neo-conservatism, anarcho-capitalism, etc…). The list is long compared to a few authors that I got during my undegraduate studies with Marx-Engel, Rousseau, Lenin, Sartre, etc, just to name of few that are still now being taught at some Vietnamese univerisities.

For the needs of my research on transition economies, another list will be necessary to this list, but includes mainly authors on the transition economies of East and Central Europe, the Soviet bloc and China, and along with it, the overview of socialistic development and history of Europe. Alone for the review of literature on this part, it took some some 2 to 3 years to cover a bibliography of about 400 titles.

I must say, that discovering so many schools of thoughts, although not being formally trained on all these authors, helped to open my mind to different perspectives. I was a bit disappointed that classical Eastern thinkers such as Confucius, Lao Tsu, the Buddha, were not on the list of recommended readings, but I still included them in my research work for the sake of comparative studies, which I intend to pursue later in my post-retirement activities. Indeed, there is obviously a gap in the education for young Eastern Scholars to understand Western thinking in my view, and this gap should be filled if we want to offer our future researchers a more solid foundation on interculturalism and multi-culturalisme.

The readings that I enjoyed most during this “revision” study period are mainly the series by Luc Ferrry, the French Minister of Culture and Education. I really love that educational course material at disposal to students and researchers in France, the many seminars that are open to all walk-in students regardless of political conviction or cultural background, the very well documented libraries on all topics with glossaries, journals, and e-books, notwistanding the avaiability of my thesis directors, their research assistants whose doors are open for any enquiries, online or offline.

For me, France is a paradise for researchers and scholars. and for that, I am thankful for all what I have received in the name of “academic freedom” and “inclusive education”.

The world of eduction is vast and promising to all who want to try out the potential of their intellectual capabilities, and education is for me the best way to reconcile ideas, ways of being and living together in peace, if the system is designed to allow that transformation to happen. One way is to start writing down a purpose statement for one’s own research thesis.

In my next post, I will share more on other support for researchers, including financial support or scholarship for talented researchers.

Have a good weekend to all,

Anita H.

Useful References:

Doctorat Campus France: https://doctorat.campusfrance.org/phd/dschools/main

French Culture Studies Opportunities: https://www.everyculture.com/Cr-Ga/France.html

Shanghai Ranking of World Universities: http://www.shanghairanking.com/Academic-Ranking-of-World-Universities-2020-Press-Release.html

Top Classical French Authors: https://www.goodreads.com/list/show/5768.Classic_French_Literature

Top Famous French Economists: https://www.thefamouspeople.com/french-economists.php

Why write a thesis-5?

Yes, as your perception of life grows, you will also find out that “All” is impermanence due to ignorance, based on greed and hatred, according to the Buddha teachings….

But, while sitting on the shores of Vung Tau Front Beach on that day of Nov 2012, my mind was not ready to accept that eternal truth, and I am sure that many will not succumb to the temptations of trying more to “achieve” their goals in life. Well, after all, without motivation and the interest of rewards, what is the purpose of our life?

While my understanding of Karma theories and dependent orgination is different from the classical motivation theories in business management, my favorite author is Maslow’s theory on the hierarchy of needs – among other works, which I am quoting below for your further research in case of interest.

  • Maslow’s hierarchy of needs.
  • Alderfer’s ERG theory: existence needs, relatedness needs and growth needs.
  • McClelland’s theory on need for achievement, affiliation and power.
  • Herzberg’s two factor theory.
  • Skinner’s reinforcement theory.
  • Vroom’s expectancy theory.
  • Adams’ equity theory.
  • Locke’s goal-setting theory.

(Source: https://regi.tankonyvtar.hu/hu/tartalom/tamop412A/2011-0023_Psychology/030300.scorml)

Back to my story, as I was saying, our perspectives on Life change depending of our needs hierarchy (Maslow), and our reactions to circumstances depend on our needs of the moment.

Vung Tau has been my favourite weekend escapade as it is only 2 hours away from Saigon (or Ho chiminh City). It was my first working town out of my hometown Dalat, after my graduation as an interpreter at age 22. In the early 1980s, getting a job as a multilingual interpreter was a dream of any young graduate, especially when you employer was the biggest employer in the Tourist Branch. But my job was not only an interpreter, I was also tour guide, and PR officer for the Oil Service Company of Vung Tau, serving the expatriate community of oil specialists.

My job perspective was perfect for a young graduate, with possibility of practicing my foreign languages in English, French, German and Russian as an intepreter and tour guide. So my job expectation at that time was simply to enjoy my good life, dine and dance with my tourists, pick up flowers and watching birds and butterflies with some scientists, practicing all my languagues, and watching sunset with some tourists, or make the tour of the island to join my colleagues on the Back Beach for a ping-pong party at the end of the day.

Life seemed to be perfect, and I could go on like that for the rest of my life…but I was 22 back then.

When I sat on the same beach, thirty years later, I was not the same person, and certainly not with the same perspectives on life.

By that time, I had done a big tour around the world, lived in many countries in Europe, completed my MBA studies and settled down in Singapore, and run a successful consultancy business. Somehow, business opportunities seemed to focus on investment projects for Vietnam, as I was the only interpreter based in Singapore.

Needless to say, new opportunities brought along new perspectives, and of course new responsibilities. As I progressed with my career as business consultant and tour manager for Singapore-based investors to my country, my perspective on life changed also. So, at some stage, it was natural that the idea of writing a doctoral thesis came along with my new responsibility as a programme director.

Another ten years have passed since then, now, at the threshold of my “new” turning point, it is time to look back and see if all the choices made along my career were meant to be part of my destiny of today.

In my next message, I will share more on the struggle of sticking up to one’s choice, once the decision is taken.

Have a good evening,

Anita H.

Why write a thesis-4?

It’s interesting to look back on what was on your mind some ten years ago. It seems that your mind and body have always been functioning like one thing together, but how come some times, it seems to me that my mind went one way, and my (physical) body was somewhere else. Could it be so? Well, let me explore this together with you, during the time I was trying to keep up with a challenging job some 12’000 km away – in my own country – while my mind was flying some 70 years back in time, exploring what was happening during a long period of war, while I was still a child.

Looking back to my first outline that was submitted on October 2012, the purpose statement of my thesis said:

QUOTE

Over the past two decades, close to one trillion US dollars worth of state-owned enterprises have been privatized in more than 100 countries. In OECD countries 80 per of total amount, the major implications are notable in public finances, corporate performance, employment and equity markets. The authors of the OCDE report identified the key drivers and objectives of privatization programs over the last two decades, as well as their scale, structure and impacts. (…)

My study will take the model of OECD privatization, implementation methods and techniques and use them to analyse the privatization process which occurred in transition economies such as Russia, and some east bloc countries, and China. Based on their experience, I will see what lessons Vietnam should draw on these experience in the process of restructuring state-owned entreprises. (…)

END-of-QUOTE

Over the years, after writing about 500 pages of texts (exluding tables and figures), my final text for defense seemed to shrink to a much more lean structure with the following abstract, that says:

QUOTE

Restructuring state-owned enterprises in view of their privatization lies at the top of the political agenda of the Vietnamese Government since the launch of the Doi-Moi policy in 1987. The purpose of this study is to examine the macro-environment in which the privatization process of Vietnamese state-owned enterprises takes place. The period of study is between 1991 and 2012. The theoretical framework is based on corporate governance and development theories and the corporate social responsibility of the State, as an economic actor and a majority shareholder, of the country’s public companies which are being privatised. The aim of the study is to determine success factors of the privatization process in Vietnam, with the role of the State in the economy, taken as variable, and examined in the context of change, both at the Asian as well as the global context.  

Keywords: Vietnam, restructuring, state-owned enterprises, corporate social responsibility, responsible leadership, transition, privatization, developing countries (PED), Change theory

END-of-QUOTE

Well, when I think that I spent almost ten years of my life working on these documents, millions of details keep coming me to my mind. But somehow, as I went along, correcting, upgrading some text, cutting off others, it seemed to me that details do not matter any more as from the start, and that in the end the GAP between what was expected from the Committee of Examiners and what I tried to demonstrate on my defence days seems to come to a close-up, with lesser words, less pages, and somehow less passionate arguments.

What happened? If the end seemed to be so easy, WHY did I need so much time to come to such results? What is the transformation that took place during all those years?

In my later “post-doc” work on quality assurance, while preparing the curriculum of the study programme for my educational project, I came to understand more about norms, standards, learning outcomes, quality assurance framework, accreditation procedure, etc.

It took years to come to this level, as I look back to my first steps when I first started my outline of my thesis, while sitting on the beach of Vung Tau, looking out to the horizon beyond to what I now know more as the South China Sea boundaries.

As life goes on, our perspective on life also change, and so does our interpretation of what Life can be…

Have a good day,

Anita H.

Why write a thesis-3?

Dear fellow friends researchers,

Thank you for my fist blog followers of year 2021. Hope that this year will be bring more positive impact than last year…

On a personal perspective, it should, as it cannot be worse than before, as I have been, and will always be a positive person… I just need to slow down a bit, at age 65, which is coming around the corner.

But there are so much to finish, so HOW to slow down? Well, my way is working more diligently, and more intelligently, with a good motivation in mind and heart. That’s is what has always motivated me. What about yourself?

In my previous day blog, I wrote about the motivation and choice of the topic and of the school. I chose the topic on “change management”, and the French school of thought for the reasons given. But I think there were more than JUST THAT. So I will continue to search my soul to find out more the reasons behind my choice. After all, who cares what kind of Doctorate Degree I am holding, or from which School I come from… but for me, the post-doc work has been more meaningful as I took time for the topic of my research. And, with time, I am thankful for having made that choice.

I think that some time, our choice is a result of some deep thinking, but we forget that some deep thinking is also the combination of deep learning and of other our personal life experiences.

As I am writing these lines, flashes of my different evolution period keep coming to my mind. I remembered the first day at school, accompanied by my German-speaking husband, who came to accompany to school (I was already 55 years old by that time, but still felt the excitement of the first-day at school, some four hours from home by train to this strange city called “PARIS”…).

The Seminary’s name was Largotec, that belongs to the “O.M.I” which stands for “Organisations, Markets, Institutions”. The Research Center was later rebaptised after Hannah Arendt, and as am progressing towards more conciousness on Hannah Arendt’s impact on political philosophy theories, I am all the more proud to be part of this important community.

Indeed, for a (long) while, I was not aware that my thesis was classified under “political philosophy”, although the doctor degree was issued by the Doctoral School of “Business Administration and Management”. So, in parallel to the studies linked to my discipline, I also had to treat my thesis under the angle of the social contract theories which are part of the “political philosophy” discipline.

The reason of my confusion was that all doctoral candidates had to sign up for the “Seminary of Epistemology and Research Methododoly” under the doctoral school for the core credits, and, in parallel, students have to sign up for a number of professionalising disciplines linked to pedagogy, research, curriculum development, etc. to prepare them to the teaching or research professions. U-PEC.fr being a University that regroups over 40’000 students from 7 departments, the School is huge and we do not necessary know everything about the School outside our own campus.

Indeed, my university, officially named Paris-Est Créteil University was inaugurated in 1970 as a multidisciplinary centre based principally in Créteil (Val-de-Marne, East of Paris). The university offers training in law, arts and humanities, sciences and technology, economics and development, administration and exchange, educational science, as well as social sciences. Val de Marne University is composed of seven departements and seven institutes situated in Créteil (Val-de-Marne), Seine-et-Marne, and in the 14th arrondissement of Paris.

The central councils
Within the University, two central councils are privileged open spaces for discussion about political choices and the main management decisions. They include academic members, students, administrative staff and external members. These spaces represent the place where the University’s democratic tradition is reflected; a tradition which combines numerous and closely argued debates and collective decision. These councils are also the place where the managing board can present its policy. The University’s Administrative Council includes 32 members and is the University’s policy-making body. The Academic Council is made up of the Commission for Research, composed of 41 members, and the Commission for Education and University Life, which is composed of 40 members.

Doctoral students mostly choose to stick to their own department of studies and to attend the class at different campuses. So, in my case, I only went to my own doctoral business school on weekends, as I needed to take the train from Geneva to Paris which took 3-4 hours each way. So, for a long time, we all assumed (at least I) that all went to the same School, but indeed, there were many Schools that are part of the University.

I love to visit and study at the central documentation service which is composed of 11 integrated libraries. There, I could borrow books, periodicals and CD-ROMs, which I could consult on the spot or loan for a certain period of time. I also love to consult the rich databases of the libraries. A thesis service is available as well as a library information office. Those are my sweet memories of my school days in Paris.

But my study activities were also busy with the professionaling trainings during the weekends with the Ponts-Business CIM (Cycle of International Management Training programme). We were asked to complete 150 ECTS within 18 months, and the programme was bilingual. Most of my classmates were young engineers (around 25-28 years of age), and came from the best schools of the French systems in the world (Algeria, Romania, Tunesia, Spain, Morocco, China, etc). They were the cream of French professionals who will be staying back and working in France after their graduation. I was the only Vietnamese student from Switzerland, and was the oldest. But I am really to proud to say that by the completion of the course, I got a GPA of 16.00 on 20.00, which made me REALLY proud of myself. Ha ha!

I recalled the long hours -must be hundreds of them – catching up on YouTube the whole post-war period of Vietnam, just to be able to write a 40-page summary on the ideological mutation of the Vietnamese pre-war generations and a short analysis of country transitional periods that explained the different episodes of the “Indochinese Conflict” that summarizes the big divide between the East vs. Western confrontation of the cold war period. Before I came to Europe, although I have lived my whole life within the epicentre of the Cold War, I did not even know that we were in the Cold War (!). The propaganda in both Vietnamese North and South parties had made sure that none of us on both sides interpret the war efforts in a the same way, and the misunderstanding still persists among us, even after 50 years of “peace” and “reunification”.

In my efforts to understand the “problems of contemporary Vietnam”, I not only need to understand the roots of the conflicts, as well as the missing conditions for reconciliation between the two conflicting parties, but also to understand “WHERE LIES THE TRUTH”. This point was crucial to understand the states of affairs of contemporary Vietnam, and why we did not catch up in terms of GDP even in comparison with our neighbouring countries such as Thailand, the Philippines, or Taiwan, to name a few. It was a painful period of my life, struggling both to understand where I came from, and struggling to stay as true as possible to the socio-economic and political realities of my country and reflecting it through my thesis argumentation.

Writing a thesis is not only to write what you think should be the outcome, but to follow a certain methodology of research, based on a number of management theories and other interdisciplinary studies, which made it so difficult for the doctoral candidates who lack the right foundation just as was my case. It was not only hard to discern the true stories behind so many conflicting versions of history, but it was also difficult to understand the conflicting theories, the different terminologies, as well as the contextual interpretation with text book materials and by authors or researchers who do not necessarily know the contexts in which you have lived through or experienced. Language barriers – although not in my case – could also be challenging for the thesis candidate.

The difficulty was also enhanced by the lack of reliable data and how they were collected. This will be the topic of my next sharing to my fellow researchers.

Till then, have a good day,

Anita H.

Why write a thesis-2 ?

Dear fellow friends researchers,

Yesterday, I re-started my blog communication for year 2021, by re-visiting my motivation on WHY I decided to write a thesis, and WHAT I expected on the status of being called a “Doctor”.

I will continue to go down into the arcane of my minds at that stage – that was in 2012 – to remember exactly what was in my mind when I started to write my first outline (and got accepted).

I remember vividly my feeling on being totally “locked-down” from the outer world to be with MYSELF during a few days, while trying to put down the few pages before the deadline of November 2012, set by my French University.

I had chosen Paris-Est Creteil University (U-PEC.fr) for two reasons: the first one being that I love French literature, being myself French educated since age 2 or 3, and continuing to evolve myself in the French logical thinking with the tons of literature from French or French-related authors. So, the first choice was motivated by my own inclination to the French culture. The second reason that I chose a French doctoral degree was that the cost of investment, as compared to a anglo-saxon doctoral degree would save me some thirty to fourty thousand pounds for the same quality of education.

Furthermore, I had done some research and had signed up to an anglo-saxon typed of doctoral schools – namely the Swiss-UMEF University based in Geneva – for 2 years before I joined U-PEC.fr. What I learned from this pre-doctoral school was invaluable as it alllowed me to review my topics learning during my MBA studies. Topics such as Islamic Finance, International Economic Law, Strategic Management, Advanced Managerials Economics, Advance Studies in Finance and Investment, International Business and Communication, taught by reknowned professors prepared my backgroung for research methodology at the stage where I entered U-PEC.fr.

So, with hindsight, it was not easy to make a choice when you select a doctoral school, but when you finally choose your final destination, the real journey started and there was only one choice : to move ahead with the topic of choice. So, there I went, ready for my choice, with a French Doctorate on the topic of my choice: “Restructuring Vietnamese State-Owned Enterprises in transition Vietnam (1992-2012).

My first outline, sent out from my hotel room in Vung Tau by DHL to Paris was the first step to do that marked my journey of seven years, with ups- and downs, with joy and sorrow, but surely was worth the journey chosen.

In my next message, I will tell more…

Have a good day,

Anita H.