LFC master’s theses spring 2020

We are happy to share LFC master’s theses from the spring semester 2020. Dear LFC students, congratulations for completing your works!

These theses discuss various topics such as the impact of economic sanctions, Finland in China’s Belt and Road initiative, Finnish policy entrepreneurship in the Arctic Council, and Armenia’s national role conceptions and their effect on the state’s foreign policy. Furthermore, the theses explore customer experience management through retail digitalization, institutional logics perspective in people analytics adoption, green human resource management (GHRM) perspective in Russian companies, the role of documentation during the bidding process for industrial solutions, and perception of key performance indicators by employees. There are also two theses that focus on stakeholder engagement in ecological restoration: one of the works discusses quarry site restoration and the other looks into rehabilitation of abandoned mine lands. As these master’s theses illustrate, Leadership for Change is a multidisciplinary Master’s Degree Programme and the programme provides tools to study diverse phenomena from different fields. Enjoy reading these compelling theses!

Enrique Montano Carranza‘s master’s thesis The Impact of Economic Sanctions aims to provide guidance for making better political and practical decisions in an ever-changing environment. Countries use sanctions often in international trade and the national economies in both ends are affected by them. In the analysis, economic sanctions between 2000–2017 are investigated, and 54 countries with available data are selected for close scrutiny. The empirical analysis is carried out by SPSS, and T- tests and non-parametric tests are used. Contrary to the hypothesis inspired by previous studies, the results show that US FDI has not changed before or after the implementation of economic sanctions. These contradictory results are then explained: nowadays, the US usually targets specific industries or individuals to avoid collateral damage and utilizes policy coalitions with partners with notable trade relations with the target country. Therefore, the modern way of conducting economic sanctions is more accurate and better coordinated than before.

Hongchuan Chen‘s master’s thesis Where Does Finland Fit in China’s Belt and Road Initiative? A Media Content Analysis of Finnish and Chinese Online News Coverage analyzes how Belt and Road initiative in relation to Finland was interpreted in cross-country media (Helsinki Times in Finland and Global Times in China). The thesis focuses on the difference in media content between these two countries. Furthermore, it gives a preliminary exploration of the insights policymakers in the two countries learned from the media data. A two-level method of media content analysis was used to identify themes and voices in the articles. A total of 163 news articles were included in the analysis. As a result, three themes in Helsinki Times and five themes in Global Times were identified. A common thread emerging from both was “cooperation opportunities”. Finnish companies and the governments were the primary actors in the contents of both, and they carried a mostly positive tone towards B&R. The Chinese government has an optimistic and determined outlook on the prospects of China–Finland cooperation under the B&R framework. However, B&R has remained a low priority in both newspapers’ agenda-setting, and they have not covered the potential framework of B&R in detail. The study suggests that B&R should be further evaluated in Finland. Policymakers in both China and Finland should adjust their policy agenda by learning from the public arena. In particular, they should take concerns that have appeared in the media into account when they formulate public and foreign policy to respond to the B&R.

Marina Danoyan‘s master’s thesis Armenia’s National Role Conceptions: Implications for the State’s Foreign Policy analyzes Armenia’s role conceptions and the evolution of the state’s identity in the post-Velvet Revolution context. It scrutinizes Armenia’s foreign policy and whether and how changes in it influence the relations with its strategic foreign partners, namely Russia and the EU. The study suggests that the discourse about Armenia’s role as a full sovereign subject has increased after the Velvet Revolution. A discourse analysis approach was applied to find out how the national role conceptions have been (re-)produced in the post-Velvet Revolution context. The analysis was based on 13 semi-structured face-to-face interviews conducted with representatives of the executive and legislative branches of Armenia’s current government, as well as the expert community. Through the discourse analysis, the study revealed six role conceptions dominating in the discourse of the current political leadership. The analysis showed conflicting aspects between Armenia’s role as a faithful ally-balancer and the one of a full sovereign subject. Putting those conflicting aspects in the context of Armenia’s relations with Russia and the EU, the findings indicated tensions between Armenia’s current political leadership’s view on the development of relations with each of those actors (the ego part of the role) and Armenia’s political leadership’s perceptions of those actors’ expectations with regard to Armenia’s foreign policy behaviour (the ‘alter part’ of the ego).

Aaron Donnelly‘s master’s thesis Managing the Customer Experience Through Retail Digitalization aims to gain a deeper understanding of how retail digitalization is influencing the customer experience with ‘brick and mortar’ retailers. A qualitative method was employed, through which 26 semi-structured interviews were conducted with retail managers based in the UK and Finland. During the interviews, retail managers discussed various challenges and opportunities that are presented by retail digitalization. These issues were analyzed across the data sample, leading to the creation of four sub-categories that expressed how digitalization has influenced the customer experience, these included, 1) changing buying behaviour, 2) rising customer expectations, 3) integrating customer touchpoints, and 4) increasing levels of competition. The findings indicate that retail managers are aware of the profound effects of retail digitalization. Retail managers detailed that the transition into the digital age presents many opportunities for brick and mortar retailers to improve the customer-retailer relationship, better understand customer needs, and increase interaction with their customers. Retail managers should 1) adopt an outside-in approach, 2) ensure that their stores have basic digital tools in place to remain competitive, and 3) trial new technologies to minimize risk and optimize their chances of successful technology implementation.

Tiia Eerola‘s master’s thesis Finnish Policy Entrepreneurship in The Arctic Council: The Case of Black Carbon Emissions explores Finnish contributions to the decision-making in the Arctic Council in terms of sustainable development whilst focusing on black carbon emissions. The study discusses the environmental diplomacy of Finland in the context of the Arctic Council, highlighting an unexplored area in the literature – the policy entrepreneurial role of a nation. In particular, the thesis investigates why black carbon emissions are a topic of utmost importance for the Finnish state, what kind of a message on dangerous black carbon emissions is spread within the Arctic Council and what kind of perceptions the member states, permanent participants and observers have about the message. In addition, the aim is to shed light on the question of what kind of international regime for climate change action Finland desires the Arctic Council to develop into. A policy entrepreneurship theory is utilized, which has been widely acknowledged as a critical part for opening and utilizing windows of opportunities, creating change momentum, and facilitating change. Qualitative methods, such as semi-structured theme interviews and qualitative content analysis, are employed to provide an in-depth understanding of why reducing black carbon emissions is of robust importance for Finland and what kind of policy entrepreneurial characteristics Finland obtained to promote them during its chairmanship of the Arctic Council. This study’s theoretical contributions reveal that the policy entrepreneurial characteristics – leading by example, network building and skill to define problems – are applicable to a nation, while leadership skills are solely possessed by individuals. Even though the policy entrepreneurial characteristics of Finland are context-specific, the findings disclose that by unifying the emission reduction message and tackling how emissions released into the atmosphere through recreational behaviour could be decreased, Finland could better succeed in building its network and in reaching its long-term emission reduction targets.

Reetta Grönlund‘s master’s thesis Stakeholder Engagement in Ecological Quarry Site Restoration: Case Rudus LUMO programme aims to examine how stakeholder engagement emerged while Rudus Oy started their LUMO programme. LUMO programme focuses on conserving biodiversity in ecological quarry site restoration and making the sites fit for multipurpose use after restoration. The research question states as ‘How does stakeholder engagement emerge and evolve in the starting phase of an ecological quarry site restoration process?’. The theoretical framework of this study is composed of corporate sustainability management, stakeholder engagement and ecological restoration, sustainability, stakeholder theory, stakeholder engagement and ecological restoration. The study utilizes a qualitative case study approach and the data is generated using interviews with Rudus’ representatives and documents. The main findings from the research include exploration of the varying ways stakeholders are engaged in the different ways in the stages of ecological quarry site restoration and the importance of an open dialogue with stakeholders in both engaging them and ensuring successful restorations. Four propositions derived from the research results are: (1) Top management’s role in establishing a sustainable way of operating and engaging stakeholders is indispensable. (2) Stakeholder engagement in ecological quarry site restoration emerges from a need to collaborate and works at best when all involved stakeholders have clear roles. (3) Communicating with stakeholders on an open and upfront basis undoubtedly advances stakeholder engagement. (4) Finding joint interests and win-win solutions through opportunities for collaboration are key to successful stakeholder engagement.

Edward Hingert‘s master’s thesis Stakeholder Engagement in Ecological Restoration: Case Abandoned Mine Land Rehabilitation focuses on the stakeholder engagement that occurred in a form of ecological restoration namely Abandoned mine lands (AMLs) rehabilitation projects. The research questions include (1) When and how does stakeholder engagement happen in AML rehabilitation initiatives? and (2) What is the contribution of stakeholder engagement to the success of AML rehabilitation projects? The study includes the identification and categorization of stakeholders from featured AML rehabilitation cases, analysis of the stakeholder interests and evaluation of successful AML rehabilitation cases. The theoretical framework of this study is formulated using stakeholder theory, stakeholder engagement, ecological restoration, and stakeholder value creation. This leads to the utilization of factors including stakeholder interests and stakeholder interactions. The study utilizes a qualitative case study and data is generated using document collection and interviews (phone communication and text-based communication). Three propositions derived from research outcomes are; (1) Stakeholder engagement commences immediately after the site is assessed and chosen for rehabilitation before the detailed planning process. (2) Stakeholder engagement with the natural environment is an extensive and complex process. (3) Successful stakeholder engagement in the AML rehabilitation project allows the transferring of confidence and know-how to the next stage of the project or the further projects.

Mariia Kangasmiaki‘s master’s thesis People Analytics Adoption: Institutional Logics Perspective applies a macro-view of institutional logics perspective to explore what types of logics underlie people analytics (PA) adoption and how institutional logics can explain low diffusion of data-driven practices within the HR field. By examining the practices, experience, and insights of PA direct participants, this study reveals what values and basic assumptions (institutional logics) shape PA practice and how institutional logics complexity affects the PA implementation. Data consists of interviews collected in Europe and Russia. The qualitative research methodology was used to gather and analyze data. Semi-structured interviews were conducted face-to-face and online, then transcribed, coded with Atlas.ti software and analyzed to identify the themes signaling the institutional logics. The study explored that PA practice is constructed and shaped by HR professional logic, business, scientific, service, and compliance logics. Tensions between business and HR professional logics; HR professional and scientific logics; scientific and business logics; business and compliance logics, and internal complexity of the emergent PA field are the factors slowing down PA adoption. Compliance logic was observed by Finnish respondents only that displays diversity in the European institutional landscape. This research contributes to existing knowledge concerning PA with a better understanding of what underlies people analytics adoption, what types of logic guide the stakeholders’ actions, and what issues are associated with the specific logic. Beyond that, the study proposes interpretations of low and slow PA implementation based on revealed conflicting and cooperative institutional logics.

Juuso Kääriäinen‘s master’s thesis The Role of Documentation during the Bidding-process for Industrial Solutions, Case Fastems explores the various roles of documentation during the bidding process for industrial solutions in the B2B environment and establishes a framework for a client-adjusted proposal document. To address the lack of established models for understanding the role of documentation in bidding for industrial solutions in B2B environment, a qualitative single-case study was applied in this master’s thesis. Eight managers with backgrounds in intelligent factory automation solutions from the USA, Finland and Germany were involved in the research. The research was complemented with literature from industrial solutions, sales-management, solution-based value selling, bidding and documentation. Three main categories were identified through research: 1) the bidding process of industrial solutions, 2) the various roles of documentation, and 3) client-adjusted proposal document. These were further divided into ten different subcategories. The findings indicate that performing in the bidding process of industrial solutions requires the selling organization to recognize the customer needs and to develop a solution that creates value for them. The findings further suggest that organizations need to understand the various roles of documentation in different business processes before they initiate the renewal process of their documentation templates. In addition, the findings indicate that the development process should be conducted to increase the effectiveness of the bidding process, as it has many positive effects including; capability to deliver value to customers, cost-effectiveness in order to meet the needs of the customer, flexibility towards changes during the process and effectively meeting deadlines.

Anastasia Pavlova‘s master’s thesis Examining Employees’ Pro-Environmental Behaviour: Green Human Resource Management Perspective: Case Study in Three Russian Companies explores employees’ pro-environmental behaviour in Russian organizational contexts, and examines how Green Human Resource Management (GHRM) practices are related to employees’ pro-environmental behaviour. This study includes two main parts. First, an extensive analysis of existing academic literature on the subject was undertaken in order to theoretically conceptualize employees’ pro-environmental behaviour and GHRM. Second, an empirical study of three companies was conducted. The data for these cases was gathered through interviews with employees, and further processed using qualitative content analysis. Afterwards, the theory of planned behaviour combined with ability-motivation-opportunity theory was used for interpreting the data. This study distinguishes three approaches to GHRM for encouraging employees’ pro-environmental behaviour: the bottom-up approach, the official GHRM practices approach, and the strategic GHRM approach. These approaches are defined by an organization’s position and the actions it has undertaken towards examining employees’ pro-environmental behaviour through GHRM. Organizational participation, managerial participation, and rising environmental awareness were identified as the most essential GHRM practices for enhancing employees’ pro-environmental behaviour. Individual-level factors are also significant for the formation of such behaviour in the organization, and they refer to consciousness and personal pro-environmental attitudes and beliefs. In addition, external cultural factors affect employees’ pro-environmental behaviour. In the Russian cultural context, mistrust in the recycling and waste disposal system was identified as a significant affective factor.

Paula Perälä‘s master’s thesis Performance Measurement and Unintended Consequences: The Perception of Key Performance Indicators by Employees explores performance measurement within organizations. The study examines how employees perceive key performance indicators in terms of the possible unintended consequences in a case company. In addition, the purpose was to shed light on the solutions of how to develop indicators, which are less harmful and dysfunctional for the entire company.

Find older LFC master’s theses here and here.

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