Bachelor thesis award
For the Bachelor Thesis Award the jury nominated the theses of Barbara Cornelissen from Inholland University of Applied Sciences and Julian Elias Lessing from WHU Otto Beisheim School of Management in Germany.
The thesis by Barbara, about a small, Dutch wine producer, contains two parts: an investment analysis for three possible extensions, and an advice to the shareholders based on this analysis. The research combines a literature study and an empirical qualitative and quantitative research. The jury was particularly impressed by the comprehensive analysis. Interesting and innovative is the inclusion of the concept familiness as a means to enhance the label of the company. While the practical implications for the specific company are obvious, the study is also highly relevant for small (family) firms which face similar decisions. In addition, the thesis is well-structured and well-written.
Starting point of the thesis by Julian is the well-known statement that nowadays continuous innovation is essential to maintain and improve a firm’s competitive advantage. The thesis focuses on “solutions to boost the readiness and capabilities of family businesses to openly innovate by means of digitalization”. Julian chose a case study approach to investigate five relatively large family firms in Germany. Cross-case analyses resulted in four propositions on the effect of digitalization on a firm’s capability to innovate. The jury was overall positive on all assessment criteria. The literature study was impressive, the topic is highly contemporary and the practical implications are elaborated and useful for family firms. And the thesis is well-structured and well-argued. It excited the jurors’ curiosity of the implications for smaller family firms.
Overall the thesis of Julian was evaluated slightly higher on novelty, it’s innovative and contemporary character and relevance of the research findings. Therefore, the jury has decided that Julian Elias Lessing is the winner of the 2018 Bachelor Thesis Award with Barbara Cornelissen as the runner up.
Master thesis award
For the Master thesis award the jury selected 3 theses as final nominees. The nominees were: Shelley Beck Saunders from Nelson Mandela University in South Africa, Desiree Westland from Nyenrode Business University and Nicolas Heidelk from the Hamburg School of Business Administration.
Shelley Beck investigated which variables influence the next generation’s intentions to follow into their parents’ footsteps. This is a very relevant topic as nowadays a higher amount of next generation family members do not want to join the family business. The study used a cross-sectional survey and concludes that parents can influence their children in their choice to join the family business. The jury found this thesis very original and empirically rigorous. The jury appreciated the methodology that was used and how the study was conducted.
Desiree studied how values can be anchored in family businesses by using governance instruments. Therefore she conducted a qualitative research by investigating four Dutch family businesses that are already a cousin consortium. The findings revealed nine mechanisms that family businesses can use to anchor family values. The jury found the thesis innovative and very accessible to a family business audience. The findings were nicely visualized and implications are relevant to family businesses. Therefore the thesis scores high on practical relevance.
Nicolas investigated whether there are differences between family firms and non-family firms with regard to working capital management. Based on financial data of a sample of 682 German corporations Nicolas found that there is a positive relationship between family ownership and the length of the cash conversion cycle. As a potential explanation Nicolas proposes that family firms keep inventory stocks higher to build and maintain close relationships with customers. The jury found the topic of working capital management highly original for the field of family business research. The topic is an issue that has become more and more important for family businesses. This increases the social relevance and practical implications of the thesis. The jury was impressed by the applied research methodology and found the empirical analyses of high quality.
After a careful assessment procedure the jury selected one winner and two runner-ups. It was a tough decision as the jury found one thesis scored very high on methodological rigor, while another thesis scored higher on practical implications. Taking all the assessment categories into account the jury decided that the Winner of the best Master Thesis Award 2018 is Nicolas Heidelk and the runner-ups at a shared second place are Shelley Beck Saunders and Desiree Westland.