Regarding the Master Thesis COM a rough distinction can be made in projects that have either an internal orientation or an external orientation. The main difference is based on the need or preference to connect an external organisation or institute to the research project. This can be feasible and/or desirable in cases where an external organisation can provide a research context, case study or research population.

  • When, for example, researching consumer behaviour in public environments, the effects of manipulations in advertising material, or the intention to use / adopt new (social) media applications in consumer environments, a research context can often be found without involving an external organisation.
  • When, on the other hand, (for example) researching aspects of internal communication or new (social) media usage within an organisation or between employees of an organisation, the involvement of an external organisation becomes more obvious.

When orienting on the Master Thesis COM it is important to consider whether an internal or external orientation is feasible and/or desired, based on the research project characteristics and/or personal preference.

Based on the research project characteristics
The involvement of an external organisation will require more efforts in order to synchronize the different interests of the stakeholders. For example the research questions, research design, development and implementation of the measurement instruments, will need negotiation between with the tutors as well as the involved organisation. These negotiations will take more time and thus have their effect on the research process.

Based on student preferences
For students, the involvement of an external organisation can also be of personal interest. This because external organisation may also provide practical internship experience to add to your resume or perhaps even a starting career opportunity. Although these are interesting features of an external research project, always consider your motives when orienting towards an external organisation. Are you looking for an internship experience or an interesting context to investigate your research questions regarding the Master Thesis COM?

Schematically the difference between internal or external projects can visualized as follows:

Considerations regarding external projects
When orienting on a research project involving an external organisation, be conscious regarding the different interests that may arise, such as:

  • Be aware that organisations are, in most cases, not familiar with the learning goals and assessment of the Master Thesis COM.
  • Be aware that the university tutors are the only persons responsible for the assessment of the Master Thesis COM. Thus always negotiate the content of the research with the tutors.
  • Be aware that external organisations often are primarily interested in hands on or practical research projects. Always consider and/or negotiate the theoretical or research possibilities.
  • Be conscious regarding research assignments that have an impact on the daily operational routines or processes of an organisation. Often these assignments hold certain outcome expectations which perhaps also need to be completed within a limited period of time.
  • Be aware that organisations often expect that you will also perform practical internship tasks, which may be desirable, but also have effect on the duration of the research project.
  • Be aware that research projects in which employees and/or management of an organisation are participating as respondents (e.g. leadership communication), are often very delicate. Always ensure that there is sufficient commitment from the organisation for the research project.
  • Be aware that internship or graduation fees may emphasize certain interests of an organisation. Consider the possibility to make use of the research context of the organisation in exchange for a research article / report, besides pursuing an additional job not related to your research project.

(Partly) conducting your research abroad
Depending on the on the research questions and personal interest is might be possible or feasible to (partly) conduct your research abroad. This, for example, when you are interested in investigating the effects of aspects of intercultural communication on leadership behaviour within organisations that have foreign subsidiaries. Then it might be feasible to collect research data abroad.

Please note that, apart from the previous mentioned considerations regarding external projects, some additional considerations may arise:

  • Be aware that foreign organisations are, in most cases, not familiar with the Dutch educational system and thus most certainly not with the requirements regarding the Master Thesis COM.
  • Be aware that distance communication with your tutors will need more effort in order to synchronize the different interests of parties involved.
  • Be aware that organising a period of stay at an organisation abroad will require more preparation.