Topics for Master’s in Organizational Behavior Research

  • Artificial Intelligence and Reducing Bias
  • Effective Use of Contractors
  • Office Design and Productivity
  • Globalization and Corporate Culture
  • Ethics and Corporate Social Responsibility

Pursuing a Master’s in Organizational Behavior usually requires a thesis, an extended piece of original research on an important topic in the field. The best topics are ones which are sufficiently narrow so that one can feasibly read the majority of existing research on the topic and then build on that to create an original contribution. This means that rather than write about what makes a good leader in general, one might study the factors accounting for the success of three leaders in small manufacturing firms in a single industry. Here are five research topics to consider.

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1. Artificial Intelligence and Reducing Bias

Bias in recruitment and promotion is seen as increasingly problematic for companies. In order to reduce bias and increase diversity, companies are turning to artificial intelligence according to a recent article in Forbes. Within this exciting new field, one can do case studies of implementation in individual companies, analysis of specific technologies, or meta-studies examining the existing literature in the field.

2. Effective Use of Contractors

As a growing number of tasks are being outsourced to contractors, overall productivity depends on effective use of contractors and freelancers along with permanent staff. Under this rubric, one could study the use of contractors in a specific organization or investigate how multiple companies in a single industry use contractors in an attempt to understand best practices.

3. Office Design and Productivity

In the wake of the enthusiasm for open offices and other forms of innovative work space design, it is important to analyze how design factors impact productivity. One could do an ethnographic study by closely observing workers in a particular setting and documenting how their environment affects their work flow and interactions with colleagues. Another possibility would be to compare similar companies that have different physical work space designs.

4. Globalization and Corporate Culture

Globalization and cultural diversity present ongoing challenges in organizational behavior and many potential areas of investigation. One could compare and contrast how cultural differences affect behavior in two similar organizations in different countries or study how staff from one culture need to learn how to interact with members of a different culture. One could also study how effective behaviors from other cultures could improve productivity in American firms.

5. Ethics and Corporate Social Responsibility

One trending topic in organizational behavior is how corporate ethics and social responsibility can help attract, retain, and improve the morale of employees. Another related topic is the use of the behavioral concept of the “nudge” to create more ethical behavior, fairer treatment of a diverse workforce, or environmentally responsible practices.

The right choice of a topic can enhance one’s career opportunities, attracting the interest of potential employers. Publishing a revised thesis in a journal or expanding it into a book signals expertise that makes a potential employee stand out from a crowd of applicants. Overall, one’s research project for a Master’s in Organizational Behavior can have a significant positive effect on obtaining jobs or promotions.