In almost all the countries around the world, small businesses play an important role in supporting a thriving economy. They drive economic growth, create more wealth, increase job opportunities and open new markets. For these reasons, governments encourage new businesses and pursue a strategy that focus on developing entrepreneurial skills through education and apprenticeship programmes. However, small businesses are facing significant issues in the quest to become suppliers of demanding clients, mainly due to the high costs associated with accessing a market. Therefore, it is essential for small businesses to adopt several tools, techniques, approaches and methodologies to maintain control of their operations, and to compete both nationally and internationally. Below, we present 15 dissertation topics looking at different issues of small-sized businesses, with a focus on technology and future aspects.
1) Navigating the waters of SMEs’ performance from the viewpoint of manufacturing strategies: Technology and Equipment effectiveness
Current technological changes are causing challenges for small-sized manufacturing businesses. For example, the latest technological advancements in the manufacturing sector have forced organisations to change from conventional manufacturing platforms to advanced technology systems. This transformation has led small and medium-sized manufacturing businesses to adapt several manufacturing strategies in order to improve their performance. Equally, technology and equipment effectiveness have become major concerns for advanced manufacturing technology systems. The limited empirical research, however, is unable to verify the potential effect of these strategies on SMEs’ performance. For this reason, the present study aims to examine the relationship between agile manufacturing, lean manufacturing and sustainability, and SMEs’ performance through the mediation of technology and equipment effectiveness.
Source: Aboelmaged, M. (2018). The drivers of sustainable manufacturing practices in Egyptian SMEs and their impact on competitive capabilities: A PLS-SEM model. Journal of Cleaner Production 175 (2018), 207-221.
2) The effect of the internet and social media on small-sized businesses’ innovation potential
Indisputably, both the internet and social media have changed the way organisations exist in 2018, particularly when it comes to marketing, communication and collaboration techniques. Considering the so-called impact of the internet and social media on business performance, the present study attempts to determine the innovation potential that comes out of the internet and social network interactions between small business representatives and their stakeholders (such as clients, suppliers, partner companies and communities). The study aims to determine whether small business representatives are aware of the advantages the internet and social media can bring to the innovation process or whether they utilise any methodologies to stimulate this communication with their stakeholders.
Source: Talukder, M., Quazi, A. and Djatikusumol, D. (2018). Social Media and SMEs. Journal of Electronic Commerce in Organizations, 16(2), pp.1-28.
3) Impact of Entrepreneurship and ICT on small-sized businesses’ transformation towards Cloud
This dissertation draws from management theory and strategic decision theory to investigate small-sized businesses’ transformation towards Cloud. Considering small-sized businesses’ substantive rationality, the present study suggests that small-sized businesses’ entrepreneurial orientation and their external pressures provide the need for their cloud transformation. Hence, several small-sized enterprises cases are used to validate the proposed research model, and to determine whether their transformation towards the cloud-related situation plays a major role in mediating the impact of strategic orientation and external pressures.
Source: Alkhater, N., Walters, R. and Wills, G. (2018). An empirical study of factors influencing cloud adoption among private sector organisations. Telematics and Informatics, 35(1), pp.38-54.
4) Small businesses, radical innovation and financing cost: Evidence from hi-tech SMEs
This dissertation, using a sample of hi-tech SMEs, investigates whether small-sized businesses (such as family firms) can present more effective use of innovation than non-small businesses. More specifically, the dissertation aims: 1) to determine whether the higher conversion rate of innovation input into output is directly related to financial limitations on innovation; 2) to determine whether the interaction between small businesses ownership and financing cost has a positive or negative effect on innovation based on R&D and innovative sales; and 3) to determine whether the knowledge, experience and expertise derived from rivals and industry associations can increase or decrease innovative sales.
Source: Zhou, L., et al. (2018). Technological configuration capability, strategic flexibility and organisational performance in Chinese high-tech organisations. pp1-31.
5) An innovative tool for assessing health & safety performance in small-sized enterprises
Recent efforts to prevent workplace accidents and occupational illness have proven successful in industrialised countries. However, there is always considerable room for improvement, especially in small-sized enterprises. Considering that experts in workplace accident prevention are overloaded, along with the fact that limited resources and tools are currently available for speeding up the process of assessing occupational health & safety performance, the present study aims to provide a vital solution to this deficiency by suggesting an innovative occupational health & safety performance evaluation tool better adapted to small-sized businesses. The first phase of the research recommends the theoretical model on which the proposed tool is based, while the second phase uses an action research methodology. During the implementation of the tool, the study intends to test its reliability and usefulness.
Source: Kaassis, B., & Badri, A. (2018). Development of a Preliminary Model for Evaluating Occupational Health and Safety Risk Management Maturity in Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises. Safety, 4(1) [online]. Available at: http://www.mdpi.com/2313-576X/4/1/5/html [Accessed 27 April 2018].
6) Technological challenges and future opportunities for SMEs in the UK retail industry
Since the UK has a thriving research, innovation and technology sector, SMEs find themselves playing catch-up to the resource-rich large MNCs in order to survive in such an economy. Although SMEs make an important contribution to the UK retail market, little is known about the implications of the UK technology environment in terms of the prevailing challenges and opportunities for SMEs. Therefore, this dissertation is aimed at extending an understanding of the technological challenges faced by UK small-sized retail firms and examines the available opportunities for the future.
Source: Kandachar, P. and Halme, M. eds., 2017. Sustainability challenges and solutions at the base of the pyramid: Business, technology and SMEs. Routledge.
7) Management Change in Small Businesses: Outlooks for the future
The last three decades have seen contemporary management practices evolve into a new management science. Businesses continuously rely on the concept of change management to train current and future business leaders on how to operate in the 21st Century where management strategies continuously shift. The main aim of this dissertation will be to explore the change management strategies necessary for small businesses to enter new markets with an outlook on the future.
Source: Doppelt, B., 2017. Leading change toward sustainability: A change-management guide for business, government and civil society. Routledge.
8) The Importance of Social Media Advertising on the growth of SMEs: The case of UK SMEs
There have been increasing calls for small businesses, particularly those in emerging sectors, to advertise their products and services to increase revenues and promote business growth. These debates generate drivers, which are able to influence business with their opinions. Therefore, the main aim of this study will be to investigate how SMEs can use conversations on social media platforms to influence opinions on their products and services. It examines several social media platforms to determine their impact to SMEs with respect to developing effective online marketing strategies.
Source: Tuten, T.L. and Solomon, M.R., 2017. Social media marketing. Sage.
9) Internationalist of SMEs: Strategies for Nigerian Manufacturing Companies
The Nigerian manufacturing industry is dominated by small and medium-sized enterprises making a significant contribution to the Nigerian GDP. The existing empirical evidence has largely focused on the internationalisation strategies for SMEs in the oil and gas sector. However, as the country continues to make strides to diversify the economy far and beyond the oil and gas industry, it would be beneficial to understand the inhibitor and drivers in relation to SMEs in the manufacturing sector to enter the international market. This study will therefore examine the available strategies used by the Nigerian manufacturing companies as they make efforts to have a share of the international markets. This will be achieved through identifying perceptions and attitudes of SME owners and managers on the topic of study.
Source: Misati, E., Walumbwa, F.O., Lahiri, S. and Kundu, S.K., 2017. The Internationalization of African Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs): A South-North Pattern. Africa Journal of Management, 3(1), pp.53-81.
10) Sustainable Development and SMEs: A case study on sustainable business practices in London businesses
Sustainable development has been a growing trend which companies cannot ignore, or indeed ignore at their own peril. SMEs can make a direct contribution to the realisation of sustainable development goals. This they can achieve through the implementation of sustainability business practices which can give them competitive advantage. Therefore, this dissertation will be intended to examine how sustainable development can be integrated into SMEs business practices in the London boroughs.
Source: Hind, P. and Smit, A., 2018. 15. Enabling sustainability in SMEs through action research. Research Handbook on Small Business Social Responsibility: Global Perspectives, p.364.
11) Challenges faced by small businesses: Can small businesses survive in the face of large companies?
It is often a major concern of small businesses that large firms or companies are interfering with their business growth. This dissertation aims to examine how small businesses are affected by large corporations in general. More specifically, it aims to find out the effect of the emergence of more convenience stores.
Source: Spence, L.J., Frynas, J.G., Muthuri, J.N., and Navare, J. (Eds.)(2018). Research handbook on small business social responsibility: global perspectives, Cheltenham, UK: Edward Elgar Publishing.
How can social media impact small businesses?
Social media such as Facebook and Twitter have an important function in the growth of small businesses. For this reason, this dissertation aims to explore the effects of social media on developing small businesses in the context of retail sector. It will also find out how social media can help the growth of small businesses.
Source: Coles, L. (2018). Social media for business: foolproof tips to help you promote your business or your brand, Melbourne: John Wiley & Sons Australia Ltd.
12) Why small businesses struggle: Factors that make small businesses successful
Entrepreneurs start new businesses but not all of them thrive and become successful although the new starters put their best efforts into it. This dissertation aims to examine the factors that can make a small business successful as they progress through difficulty of resourcing and marketing.
Source: Brent, A. (2017). The growth director’s secret: why businesses struggle to grow – and what you can do to change it, New York: Bloomsbury.
13) Does crowdfunding be a sustainable model for small businesses?
Crowdfunding is becoming a method of financing small businesses across the most developed economies. The present dissertation aims to seek to understand whether crowdfunding can be sustainable model for raising finance for small businesses. It also will find out the difficulties businesses may face raising finance for their future projects using this method.
Source: Cumming, D., and Hornuf, L. (Eds). 2018. The economics of crowdfunding: start-ups, portals and investor behaviour, Palgrave Macmillan, New York.
14) To what extend do business schools motivate students to start a new business?
Business schools provide theoretical knowledge for those who are interested in business knowledge. However, not all become entrepreneurs or business persons, while many graduates look for employment elsewhere. This exploratory study aims to discover to what extend higher education influences individuals to start new businesses after their graduation.
Source: Thomas N. Duening, Matthew L. Metzger (Eds). 2017. Entrepreneurial identity: the process of becoming an entrepreneur, Edward Elgar Publishing, Cheltenham.