Once all the exams are passed and all the assignments are approved, the final part of the MBA is about to change your life and messing even more with your spare time..
The dissertation is the final master piece of your work at the university and of course the biggest assignment.
I remember that I was “up to speed” and very good at reading a lot of academic articles and books, but at the same time also looking forward to finishing the education and start a more “normal” life.
I think that this is quite a normal feeling and that each student is a little bit fed up with books and reading. Maybe the ones that are not – are (or should be..) the ones proceeding to the doctorial degree at Henley Business School.
Nevertheless I was also looking forward to going deep and concentrating on a specific subject and to have some time alone studying without going to lectures.
Two choices – a dissertation or a management research challenge
At Henley Business School you have the choice of writing a dissertation that is a large assignment about a certain issue or you can choose to write a management research challenge that is a case oriented assignment solving a current issue in your own organisation.
I chose to write a dissertation about health and wellness.
It was somehow great that I changed jobs during the MBA so that I could choose whatever I wanted to write about and was not forced to work with a certain project.
This way I could concentrate fully on this interesting topic. I have gotten even more aware of the connection between health and productivity and the possibilities of motivating employees through health programs.
These findings I thought that I could use in regards to change management in my day job. Luckily that proved to be the case.
Purpose of my research
The overall aim with my dissertation and the purpose of the research was to obtain a better understanding of the organisational key success factors when implementing and launching health programs.
The aim was also to get a deeper understanding of how employees perceive health program activities.
This to make a better implementation with lower resistance to change from the employees in order for the health programs to be a success for the organisations.
The main objectives for the dissertation was:
- To clarify the sense making by the employees about the health programs in general
- To identify the areas of a health program that could create resistance to change from employees.
- To find ways to change the launch and implementation of health programs in order to obtain a higher success rate without unnecessary resistance to change from employees.
The overall working question was:
What are the organisational key success factors when implementing and launching health programs?
What I have learned from working with the dissertation and what have my challenges been
One of the most significant personal learning points was writing the literature review. I was aware of the connection between health and productivity and before searching for literature I was a little afraid that it would not be possible to find sufficient literature, but I soon realized that there exists a vast amount of literature around the subject.
That was an eye opener for me since I realized that the health program industry is enormous and that organizations have worked with health programs for decades.
One of the most significant challenges was working with the data analysis that first of all provided me with a lot of important knowledge that supported the findings from the literature review, but at the same time made me struggle with interpreting and analyzing the data the right way.
This process, even though it was tough, made me realize the importance of a correct and structured approach to data analysis so that precious data will not be interpreted the wrong way.
My personal learning objectives with the dissertation
My objective was both to gain a deeper knowledge of health as a motivational factor for employees as well as learning more about successful implementation of corporate health programs and the activities connected to these programs.
The findings from this dissertation have given me improved confidence in the fact that I have the knowledge needed to implement health programs and working with change management.
This has also given me knowledge in how to avoid unnecessary resistance to change from the employees when implementing larger projects.
The objective was also about getting knowledge and a better understanding of why some employees have a general resistance towards change in organisations. Learning more about the sense making from the employees and spending time listening to their opinions has made me realize that informing employees about the benefits to them is crucial in avoiding unnecessary resistance to change.
Concrete findings and what I have learned from working with the dissertation
Employee involvement is linked to limiting the resistance to change from the employees.
In order to avoid misunderstanding and resistance from the employees they need to be ready and motivated for the change.
I have learned that the employees must be part of the change process from the beginning and motivation for change must be generated before change can occur.
Management commitment is linked to the right leadership style of the Managers that could be an important factor in securing the involvement from employees in the end.
Leadership must be about collaboration, team leadership and getting input from valued employees.
Maybe my dissertation can be used as a guideline for successful implementation of corporate health programs in organisations and for the HR departments to get a better understanding of why some employees have a resistance towards the programs.
All in all I have spent quite some time working with the dissertation, I have loved and hated it from time to time, but I liked the fact that I could go “deep dive” in a certain subject.
I liked the fact that I could see the light from the end of the tunnel and soon would be able to call myself MBA.
It would be impossible for me to advise any potential MBA candidate about choosing between a dissertation and a management research challenge. It would very much depend on the situation and the relevant cases at your company.
Of course an open discussion with your boss about his or hers expectation would be crucial – but that is pretty much common sense to an MBA candidate I guess.
I hope that this article has giving you an idea of the academic level and the relevance of a MBA dissertation.
The next article will be about the final part of the MBA journey – the graduation at the university at Henley. A day that I will never forget.