Topic outline


    Preliminary Assignment - due Tuesday 27th of October

    Since this course should help and assist you in the process of your master thesis paper, you should already have a rough idea about the topic you want to proceed.

    Therefore please put these onto paper and hand them in before we start with our first session. This should be the ground work we will then work on, allocate you to your supervisor and know which research methods you should focus on for the upcoming obligatory assignments. You will find more details about the preliminary assignment further down. The submission guidelines also apply for the preliminary exercise. 

    Topic Exercises – due 17.11. and 4.12.

    In association to each topic there are two small exercises (3 points each), which test the comprehension of the topic and help you to develop skills to critically read and evaluate scientific research. These exercises are voluntary. However, if you do not complete them, you will automatically loose the points they are worth, and cannot get the highest grade from the course. Altogether the voluntary exercises amount to a maximum of 48 points of the total 100 points of this course (8 session, 2 exercises in each session, 3 points for each exercise).

    The first set of exercises are due on 17th of November. The second set of exercises are done by 4th of December. Depending if your future master thesis is focusing on qualitative or quantitative research, you should submit the exercises in from your research field. Working with this groundwork will help prepare you to do obligatory assignment number 1. The other topics, even though not part of your future master thesis research, are still part of your class and the topic exercises. These have to be done after obligatory assignment number 1 with the deadline of 4th of December. 

    Obligatory assignments - due 17.11. and 04.12. 

    The course includes two obligatory assignments (20 points and 32 points) that allow you to develop your skills as a researcher, and to work on a topic that is of interest to you. The first assignment focuses on either on Qualitative or Quantitative Research (depending on your planned master thesis topic) and it is due Tuesday the 17th of November. The second assignment will focus on your particular research methodology and it is due Friday the 4th of December.

    You must complete and pass these 2 obligatory assignments in order to pass the course. However, note that they only amount to a maximum of 52 points of the total 100 points of this course and it might be very difficult to reach the maximum amount of points. In order to pass the course, you need to collect a minimum of 50 points from these exercises and the assignments. Therefore I strongly encourage you to also work on the exercises.

    We offer an online feedback session after each of the obligatory assignments (see information above). The participation is voluntary. 


    Please, see the Materials section for all the readings and research papers that are referred to in the exercises.


    Submission formats

    Submit all exercises and assignments on MyCourses. Note that the two assignments will be submitted via Turnitin (to check for plagiarism) in MyCourses.


    The work must be presented in the following format:

    • Font: Times New Roman
    • Size: 12
    • Spacing: 1.5
    • Alignment: justified 
    • Pages: numbered 
    • Margins: ‘normal’ in MS Word
    • Filename format: SURNAME First Name-Year-ID-ASSIGNMENT INITIALS.docx (example: Hoeger Thomas-2020-1234567-A1.docx)


    • Late assignments will lose 10 points per 24-hour period: this will be enforced as soon as the deadline is missed, as indicated by the timestamp in Turnitin. If an assignment is three or more days late, the grade will be converted to a zero for that assignment.

    Referencing and Research Ethics

    Citation Style: Harvard Referencing (See Materials section)

    Academic excellence and high achievement levels are only possible in an environment where the highest standards of academic honesty and integrity are maintained. Students are expected to abide by the 
    Aalto University Code of Academic Integrity, other relevant codes and regulations, as well as the canons of ethical conduct within the disciplines of business and management education.

    • Drafting a research idea


      A) Organise an overview of the study you would like to conduct for your master thesis and talk about the ideas you have (approx. 1-2 pages). In your overview, include (a) the problem or phenomenon you plan to study with its benefits and implications, (b) the research objective(s), (c) the type of data that would be useful. Include your motivations and the potential implications of this future work. Consider whether your phenomenon can be answered with a qualitative or quantitative design.

      B) Additionally to the written text in A), fill in the Research Design Canvas as good and detailed as you can. You will find it in the "Materials" section on the left. Information on how to fill out a Research Design Canvas / What a Research Design Canvas is and also a blank Research Design Canvas, which I just created to help you. Feel free to create your own or also do it hand-written (and then scan it). Please try to convert all material into PDF and combine the text and the Canvas into one common document.

      In case you might have problems understanding what a research design canvas is and how to fill it out, maybe this online page can help you a little:

    • Make a submission

      After getting acquainted with the materials (readings, videos), formulate five research questions that suit the following research designs (one research question per research design): an ethnography, a hermeneutic study, a phenomenology, a case study, and a grounded theory study.

    • Make a submission

      Gehman, J., Glaser, V. L., Eisenhardt, K. M., Gioia, D., Langley, A., & Corley, K. G. (2017). Finding theory–method fit: A comparison of three qualitative approaches to theory building. Journal of Management Inquiry27(3) 284-300.

      Carefully read Gehman et al. (2017) and explain what are differences between Langley, Eisenhardt and Gioia in their methodological approaches to grounded theory research.

    • Make a submission

      After getting acquainted with the materials (readings, videos), discuss the advantages and disadvantages theoretical knowledge, prolonged stay in a setting and fieldnote templates can have for collecting observation data, for instance, in ethnographic research.  

    • Make a submission

      Stigliani, I., & Ravasi, D. (2012). Organizing thoughts and connecting brains: Material practices and the transition from individual to group-level prospective sensemaking. Academy of Management journal55(5), 1232-1259.

      Read the “methods” section in Stigliani and Ravasi (2012), and explain how observation data and field notes are collected and used in the analysis. How does observation data help to answer their research question? 

    • Make a submission

      Consider a research phenomenon of interest (e.g. your thesis topic, or the one you choose in Assignment 1), and design three very brief interview guides: one for an unstructured interview, one for a semi-structured interview and one for a structured interview. In your opinion, which one is most suitable for studying your research phenomenon?

    • Make a submission

      Alvesson, M. (2003). Beyond neopositivists, romantics, and localists: A reflexive approach to interviews in organizational research. Academy of management review28(1), 13-33.

      Roulston, K. (2010). Considering quality in qualitative interviewing. Qualitative Research10(2), 199-228.


      After reading Alvesson (2003) and Roulston (2010), discuss the authors’ different understandings of assuring ‘quality’ in interviews, in conducting social science research.

    • Make a submission

      If you were to code interviews / observation data, explain how you would proceed. How do you decide when to stop coding the data? Explain your rationale. 

    • Make a submission

      Farny, S, Kibler, E., Hai, S., & P. Landoni (2018), ‘Volunteer Retention in ProSocial Venturing: The Role of Emotional Connectivity’, Entrepreneurship Theory & Practice.


      Carefully read the methodology section of Farny et al. (2018), and explain when do the authors apply an inductive, an abductive or a deductive logic in analysing their data.

    • Make a submission

      Take a look at two databases that are freely available and offer interesting data for entrepreneurship and innovation management researchers: Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM) European Innovation Scoreboard (EIS).

      Give a brief (max 1 page) account on your impressions on one or bothof the databases. What kind of data is available? How is the data collected? What do you find interesting in the database?


      If you are interested to learn more about databases, see for example: 

      Wennberg, K. 2005. Entrepreneurship research through databases: Measurement and design issues. New England Journal of Entrepreneurship, 8(2), 9-19.

      Available online:

    • Make a submission

      Kuckertz, A. & Wagner, M. 2010. The influence of sustainability orientation on entrepreneurial intentions — Investigating the role of business experience. Journal of Business Venturing, 25(5), 524-539.

      Read the Data, Measures and Limitations sections of the article by Kuckertz and Wagner (2010), and answer the questions on it:
      • What kind of data does the study use? How well do the authors describe the process of data collection? 
      • Do they assess the validity and reliability of the data, and its potential limitations? 
      • Would you have ideas for improving the data (e.g. do you think they should have used different data, or collect more data)?

    • Make a submission

      After getting acquainted with the materials (readings, videos), explain briefly (max 1 page) why it is important to pay due attention to the empirical research design when either conducting research, or reading a research report or article.

    • Make a submission

      Kibler, E., Salmivaara, V., Stenholm, P., & Terjesen, S. 2018. The Evaluative Legitimacy of Social Entrepreneurship in Capitalist Welfare Systems. Journal of World Business, 53(6), 944-957. 

      Read the Theory and hypotheses, and Research design and method sections of the article by Kibler et al., (2018), and answer the questions on it:

      • What kind of theory/-ies do the authors use to build their model and ground their hypotheses? 
      • How do they operationalise their model into variables (DV, IV, control)? 
      • Would you have ideas for improving the process of building a bridge between the theory and the empirics (e.g. do you think they argue their hypotheses convincingly, do the variables fit well with the concepts, and could they have included other control variables)?

    • Make a submission

      After getting acquainted with the materials (readings, videos), explain briefly (max 1 page) what is the purpose of data visualisation, descriptive and inferential statistics.

    • Make a submission

      Cardon, M. S. & Kirk, C. P. 2013. Entrepreneurial passion as mediator of the selfefficacy to persistence relationship. Entrepreneurship Theory and Practice, 39(5), 1027-1050. 

      Read the Results and Limitations sections of the article by Cardon and Kirk (2013), and answer the questions on it: 

      • How do the authors analyse their data; which analytical techniques do they use? 
      • Do you think the authors sufficiently justify why they have chosen these methods?

    • Make a submission

      Kirsch, D. A., Goldfarb B. & Gera, A. 2009. Form or Substance? The Role of Business Plans in Venture Capital Decision Making. Strategic Management Journal, 30(5), 487-515.

      Bowers, B. (2009). Investors Pay Business Plans Little Heed, Study Finds. The New York Times


      Look at the Introduction, Discussion, Conclusion sections of the research paper by Kirsch et al. (2009) as well as The New York Times newspaper article ‘Investors Pay Business Plans Little Heed, Study Finds’, that refers to the study by Kirsch et al. Describe briefly your impression on the differences in reporting research to the academic audience and in the media. Are there any problematic issues, or specific advantages in the way in which the newspaper article discusses the study?

    • Make a submission

      Mehrotra, V., Morck, R., Shim, J. & Wiwattanakantang, Y. 2011. Must Love Kill the Family Firm? Some Exploratory Evidence. Entrepreneurship Theory and Practice, 35(6), 1121-1148. 

      Read the Introduction, Empirical Findings and Conclusions sections of the article by Mehrotra et al (2011), and explain briefly (max 1 page) the insight delivered by this study. 

      • What was the motivation for this study, why did the authors feel it was needed?
      • What is the research question they wish to answer? 
      • What are the key findings of the research paper? 
      • What is your impression of this research; is it well-grounded and does it offer relevant implications?