Saturday, September 08, 2012

PhD topics in Management

I am suggesting some broad research areas, which you can use as a starting point. You may want to use these topics to understand the depth you need to go into for research. These are mostly topics for PhD in management in India. If you have any questions, I will be happy to answer them, email me at

All the areas mentioned below are survey based. Or you need to do a survey.

Supply Chain
  • Supplier relations
  • Supplier evaluation
  • Supplier selection
  • Study of Industrial clusters (Interdisciplinary)

  • Leadership and leadership traits
  • HR issues in security services industry in India
  • HR issues of contract workers (in a particular sector, like automobile or in industrial clusters, like for example, Issues faced by contract workers employed by Automobile companies or Auto Ancillary units in Pune)
  • HR issues in IT / ITES industry in India
  • HR issues in BPO industry
  • HR issues faced by Women (in a particular industry)
  • HR issues faced by Women workers

  • Attitudes of consumers towards E commerce
  • Attitudes of young consumers towards online purchases
  • Usage trends in Mobile banking / Adoption of mobile banking
  • Technology adoption in SMEs (Small and Medium Enterprises)

Attitudes of Indian consumers towards modern retail

  • Micro-finance
  • Cooperative banks

If you have some topics to suggest, please email me at

Topic for PhD in Management

Every week I get at least one email requesting me to suggest a topic for PhD. Well, I don't understand how can someone expect me to know what their area of interest is. Getting a topic and doing research in it is not as simple as it may sound. Doing a PhD is a long process, sometimes it lasts for a few years. Its not a project work that can get over in a few days or months. The topic should be one that would retain your interest for at least the next 5 years and help you in your future research.

For people who want topics for PhD, I have compiled some emails that I got. Please go through them and try to answer their questions. My standard reply is given below.

Email 1
i am xxxxx ,old 22.. i have completed my MBA last year. i wish to do my doctrate in management..(part time in ignou bangalore). what topic can i choose???????? my specialization in MBA is (HR & SYSTEMS).........

Email 2
I am planning to do my PhD in management/ marketing or related subjects. Can you please suggest some topics...? It is urgent. Kindly reply within 1~2 days.

Email 3
Dear Sir, I am a CA and willing to pusue phd in Management. Kindly guide me the topics. Thanks

Email 4
Pls suggest me the topic for further which slightly relevant to finance or as you suggest for better work ...I will be thankful to you for this.....

Email 5
Dear Sir , I am regular reader of your web site & look forward to new subjects everytime keenly.I have done MBA with marketing as major n finance as minor please suggest relevant topic n stream for phd though i am interested to pursue phd in management . looking forward for your reply in anticipation. Thanks & Regards,

Email 6
I want to do P.hd in Managemet topic, kindly suggest me the topic management.

My Standard Answer: I suggest the following ways to narrow down on the PhD topics

Thumb rule: Topic should relate to your Bachelors or Masters subjects
The simple reason for this is that you need to have a strong foundation in the subject you wish to do research in. One way to get around this restriction is to take courses in your area of choice after you get admission into PhD program.

Research Methods / Research Methodology

Buy text books on the above subject and go through them thoroughly. I think, buying a Research Methodology text book is the first thing you should do. It would give you an idea on how to approach the subject and a systematic method of approaching the research topic. Remember, the results or conclusions of your research is not important, it’s the method you use to solve the problem. 

Academic Journals
Go through or browse articles in academic journals and editorials. You will get an idea of the latest published stuff. Look at the references of research articles, try to see which authors are cited most often. Read their papers.

Attend Academic Conferences
Go to academic conferences, attend paper presentations and talk to authors and professors doing research in that area. Listening to them and seeing their presentations would give you a clear idea on the depth you need to go into. You would also get to know the latest and hottest ideas.

Choose a research area that is at least 15 years old
You will have enough background material to start with and build your research. No research area is old or new, it’s the way you approach it. This thumb rule would help you avoid fads that have a short lifespan.

Always have a backup plan / Plan B
Most of the time, you would end up throwing out what you have done in the past. Sometimes, more than 80% of your past work goes waste. Hence, always have a Plan B.

Best of luck, if you have any questions or comments, feel free to email me at

Thursday, April 07, 2011

How to find a research topic for phd in india

Some suggestions on how to choose a PhD research topic for a phd in India are given. These are some things that I have got through experience or got from others. It is important to try and understand the logic behind each one of them. The first hurdle you come across when you decide to do a phd is in what area or what topic should I choose. I have given some tips to help you narrow down. These are general tips, and can be used by anyone doing research in any area, be it management or human resource (HR) or finance or marketing. 

First you have to get an idea of how research is done. The best way to understand how research is done is to read a "Research Methodology" text book. Begin with any book that catches your fancy in your institute library or simply surf the web or google. In the beginning while going though these books you may feel that the author has a very theoretical approach. Its fine, its normal to have such feelings. Once you are done with books on Management Research, you can also look through some books on clinical research. Yes clinical research may be a bit out of the way, but no harm in doing so, the reason being, they have a lot of examples and its easy to relate.

The second most important thing is about the research area or topic. Don't choose any topic that's brand new or is talked a lot in the newspapers or the current hot topic. There is a problem with hot topics, they get cold! or loose steam. You may loose interest in it or worse your guide looses interest. Always choose a topic that has at least 15 years of research done. Yes, it may sound a bit old, but you will find a lot of Journal papers to refer and it will make your research easier.

The third most important point is about your interest. Choose a topic that interests you. For those who are working in industry, don't choose a topic that's related to a problem you are facing at work. The problem will vanish in some months and you will loose interest in it. For industry professionals wanting to do a PhD, some free advice, blindly follow what your guide says. You don't want to be left alone if you are stuck in something and its outside the expertize area of your guide. He simply wont be able to help you if your topic is not in his area of expertize. The guide is the most important factor. The guide is the one who will have a substantial contribution to your research work. Choosing a topic that interests the guide is very important.

Get access to institutes or universities that have subscribed to research journals in your area of interest. Go through them, read the editorials or just go through each volume and see if anything catches your fancy note down the authors name and university he belongs to. Most probably you can then go to his website and find more papers related to his area of interest. See if you find something that's worth spending 4 years on.

Some points given above may sound amateurish to some readers depending on the level of research maturity you are in. This advice is meant for beginners who are just learning to get their feet wet in PhD.

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me [a]    I would try and help you in any way possible.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

General Information on PhD Programs in India

General Information on PhD Programs in India (Updated on 7th November 2008)
Doctoral (PhD) Programs in India
Fellow Program in Management in India
IIM Fellow program India
Educational Research
PhD Research in India
How to do Research
Research in India

This page contains information specific to PhD programs offered in India only. This is an initial draft, I am updating this page on a regular basis.

Recent Advertisements for PhD and Fellow Program in Management can be found on Indian MBA site.


In India Doctoral level programs are offered by:
Universities (includes deemed universities), IITs, IIMs and others.

The degrees offered are:

Universities (includes Deemed Universities) - PhD - Part Time / Full Time
IITs - PhD - Part Time / Full Time
IIMs - Fellow - Full Time
Others - Fellow - Part Time / Full Time
QIP or Quality Improvement Programs are run by all IITs and few IIMs. QIP programs are run by IITs and other government run institutes. Only those who have a minimum experience of a fixed number of years can get admission and have to be sponsored by the their host academic institution.

Why go for a PhD?
Some go for its intellectual stimulus (Very rare).
Some want it to get into consulting.
Some want it, as it is essential for promotions (when they are in academic jobs)
Some want to go into academics (teaching profession) (about min. requirements for lectureship)
Can’t find a job based on their past education! (So keep on studying!!)
Or just don’t know what to do!!!

The number of candidates applying for a PhD has increased in the past 3 to 4 years (I don’t know whether the difference is significant). But the number of admission offers has remained the same as it is difficult to find quality students. However, attrition rates are also high.

Admission Season
Institutes generally admit candidates two times a year (around December and June). Advertisements for June come out in February in Sunday editions of Leading National Dailys’. One also should keep on browsing the web sites of the Institutes that you want to apply. Please don’t relay on what is written on the web pages, they are not updated regularly (remember you are in India). Please read the admission brochure thoroughly before applying and also before joining (rules can have different interpretations!). IIM’s admit candidates who have a CAT score. So if you are targeting IIM’s then you should be appearing for CAT.
What the PhD admission committee looks for in a candidate?
The following is not a comprehensive list, you may not have any of the following but you are admitted.
Research aptitude
Strong basics
Consistent academic performance (toppers in their engineering class etc type)
Candidates from reputed Institutes
Good Master’s project
Conference or journal publications
Past work experience
Are you doing time pass (i.e. leave the program once you get a (good) job)

PhD Selection Process (General)
Generally PhD selection is based on presentation and interview. What is asked in the interview depends on the Institute or department you are applying to. In the presentation it is sometimes expected of you to give a research proposal. This can be in your area of interest. It is very important that the area you want to do research in (i.e. the area you want to work in) should be related to your past education. Some times the interview committee is not at all concerned with your past work experience! What this means is that you should have good basic education in the area you wish to work in. You definitely can’t apply to the Department of Computer Science with a Masters degree in Energy System Engineering and say you are interested in Software Engineering, it is a bit out of place. Past work experience is also not a criterion in PhD selection. It totally depends on the candidate how he presents himself.

PhD from IITs
In IITs for Part Time as well as Full time Scholars, one year (this varies)(some times more or less) compulsory course work is to be done on campus. For Part Time scholars they can take a study leave from their host institution/company. It is the same for QIP scholars also. A handsome (may not be) stipend is also paid to full time scholars.

PhD from IIM’s
IIMs require a candidate to complete two years of course work. So you should be ready for that. As far as I know IIM’s don’t admit Part time candidates. The final degree is called Fellow.

PhD from a University
Some university departments conduct a written test of their own. This system generally allows the candidate to proceed at his / her own pace. You can select a guide and a topic and start your research (start working on it). It generally takes 3 years to get the degree through the university system.

Contact someone or visit the institute:
It is advisable to contact someone already working on a PhD from the institute and know how the program is. It may be so that things up to the mark at the PhD level even in Institutes of national repute. Talk to the Professors of your area and the person heading the research programs. This will give you a good idea of what you can expect once you get admitted.

How to start off or narrow down on a topic (for the beginner)?
You have worked in industry and have seen a problem there which you think will need good amount of intense research then (you have some thing to work on!) You can extend you master’s level research work (if at all it is up to the mark!)
Do a proper literature survey and find the research gaps (Sounds very easy!!). Try getting hold of the literature on your area first!!!!

For some one starting in the dark
In the area you want to work on start reading some Text book in that subject. Please note (frank advice) pick up a book that is authored by a US university professor targeted at students. Then only you can get the real feel of the subject. Then see what things (topic may be a better word) that interest you. A little specialized reading will get you out of your darkness.
These are some pages that provide information on “How to do research” in different fields of study. A must see for all.

Types of Research

Survey or questionnaire based study
A sizeable number of researchers land up doing some thing known as survey research. Initially it may look very simple but if you are not aware of some things your quality of work can suffer like any thing. You should be very good at what is known as Research Methodology and Statistics.

Mathematical Modeling

Mathematical Simulation

Research Methodology
For those who dont have any idea where to start, you can buy any Research Methodology book available at any local book store in you city. This will give you a clear idea on how to proceed. For the admission process you may need to have a tentative research proposal. This is just to give an idea to the selection commitee that you have an aptitude for research in the field. You may change the topic as advised by you guide later after admission.

Statistical Tools
Gone are the days of simple t tests and regression analysis. Now a days (this is year 2005) multivariate analysis is the norm. Ordinary statistical analysis can be passed off in low quality work. Advanced statistical packages like SPSS and SAS are the norm in data analysis. Have you heard of LISREL (SEQ) and Meta analysis!! Its time you start some Google search and know what is happening around.
Mind well it is your own effort and no one will help you out. You should be self motivated enough to start a journey in the unknown depths of knowledge that may take 3 to 4 years of work to complete!
A good online text book on Statistics is available here.

After a PhD, What?
If you are form a top notch Institute you can go for consulting. After a Doctoral Program many people go for academics. One warning is that teaching is not a simple job. Teaching at top notch places is challenging. If the students are interested in what is taught and they also come prepared to the class, they can challenge the faculty on each and every statement (It happens!)
Some other options are - Keep working on it! Go for a Post Doctoral!!
Yahoo Groups
The following two are yahoo groups for students doing PhD in India.

Specialist India This group is meant for networking all India doctoral students in management and allied sciences.

Management PhD Discussion group for PhD students and guides in the area of Management
This site talks about a survey conducted in 1999. The respondents were PhD students from USA. Worth browsing.

How to do research at MIT AI Lab is a working paper written long back, but still holds in today’s context in any area of research.

Some great links on How to do research!

MIT has some excellent resources on the internet.
Hundreds of Online Thesis are available. Online Thesis
MIT’s Open Course Ware, hundreds of courses are available online with complete lecture notes, session plans, exam question papers and assignment. OCW Page

Online Thesis is also available from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University Library Electronic web site is a comprehensive site that also caters to people joining PhD or FPM programs. Click here for FPM or Management PhD Advts.

A forum called also has some posting dedicated to FPM only. Please read all the posting before posting any thing. You also have to sing in.

Please use your own brains (or heads or think on it) before acting on any information on this page!