Doing a Master Thesis in the Chair of International Business

1. Requirements

The current requirements to be considered as a candidate for a Master Thesis in the Chair of International Business are:

  • Successful completion of the course Research Methods in International Business. (recommended)
  • Willingness (and sufficient knowledge!) to prepare the Master Thesis in English.
  • Participation in the Masterkonversatorium throughout the Master Thesis period.
  • A high level of dedication and commitment.

Students are strongly encouraged to attend the courses of the Chair of International Business, namely Foundations of International BusinessGlobal Strategy, International Entrepreneurship and Family Firm Internationalization for advancing their disciplinary skills in the area of International Business. Importantly also, students are strongly encouraged to attend the Research Methods in International Business course for sharpening their research methods skills and ability to undertake independent research for the Master Thesis. 


2. Application Procedure

Interested students fulfilling the above requirements should prepare a 3-4 page proposal (excluding references & appendices) to be submitted with a CV to the relevant academic of staff of the Chair of International Business. 

When preparing a proposal, students should ensure that their topic has a clear international business dimension. Although, in general, the responsibility for identifying a suitable Master Thesis topic lies with the student, specific topics may be proposed by staff of the Chair of International Business.

A proposal typically has the following structure:

(1)   Title of your proposed research

(2)   Introduction to the Topic – What is it all about?

(3)   Research questions and objectives:

·         What are they?

·         Research gap: What do we miss? What do we need to find out?

·         Why is it important for us to know that?

·         What is the theoretical contribution of the study? (ground critically your research questions and objectives on the relevant literature and identified research gaps)

(4)   Literature review – What are the key theoretical lens(es) and concepts used to address the research question? Demonstrate critical thinking and synthesis skills to develop arguments that justify your study.

(5)   Methods

·         What is the justification for your chosen research method(s)? Why is it most appropriate to study your topic?

·         What are the main strengths, but also what are the limitations and how they might be addressed?

·         What kind of data are you going to use in your research? How available is it?

(6)   Timescale, resources and limitations

(7)    List of relevant references 

 Language of the proposal: English


The proposal should draw on academic sources.

Consult the following International Business related journals to develop your topic:

Journal of International Business Studies

Journal of World Business

International Business Review

Journal of International Management

Global Strategy Journal

Journal of Business Venturing

Entrepreneurship Theory and Practice

Family Business Review


3. Supervision Arrangements 

Please contact in advance (at least one semester in advance) the academic staff of the Chair of International Business and explore availabilities for supervision. Kindly note that due to very high demand, you need to be very proactive!

For the research interests of the academic staff of the Chair, please check:

Univ.-Prof. Dr. Emmanuella Plakoyiannaki

Priv. Doz. Dr. Katerina Makri

Dr. Francesco Debellis

Your supervisor is a member of staff who will guide you through the various stages of your Master Thesis. She or he should be your first point of contact for all matters relating to your Master Thesis. You should meet with her or him roughly every fortnight but you will usually have most contact at the start of the Master Thesis to discuss your ideas and when he or she has had the chance to read and comment on draft chapters of your Master Thesis. It is best to come to a supervision session with some specific issues to discuss. If you want comments on a draft, you should make sure that you give it to your supervisor with enough time before you meet for her or him to read it. Supervisors are expected to read no more than one draft of each chapter in the Master Thesis.

Maintain regular contact with your supervisor; she or he can help you refine your ideas and can give suggestions for things to read or how to overcome problems. It is your responsibility to contact your supervisor to set up meetings and to discuss your progress. Your supervisor is not expected to contact you. Also, please plan ahead. Your supervisor has other responsibilities and is not expected to drop everything to meet you, to read your work, or to give you feedback.

If, for any reason, you are unhappy with your supervisor, you should discuss this with her/him first. If you are still unhappy you should see Univ.-Prof. Dr. Emmanuella Plakogiannaki or the Studienprogrammleiter.


4. Registration of the Topic

After you reach an agreement with your supervisor, you need to fill in a form to register the topic of your thesis with the SSC (please contact Ms. Ladenstein at The supervisor must sign and you will then receive a confirmation email. Please make sure you register to the Masterarbeitskonversatorium of the Chair of International Business.

Please, note that the receipt of the confirmation email is necessary for the participation in the Masterarbeitkonversatorium.


5. Attendance of the Masterarbeitskonversatorium

Attending the Masterarbeitkonversatorium assumes that you have a supervisor and a registered topic. It requires active participation in all lectures, engagement with all tasks so as to make progress with your thesis and presentation of your thesis idea (assessment point). You will receive detailed feedback on your topic and suggestions for improvement by the academic staff of the Chair of International Business. The Masterarbeitkonversatorium is an assessed course of 2 ECTS units.


After completion of the Masterarbeitkonversatorium, you will work on an independent basis towards completion and submission of your Master Thesis. You will be supported by your supervisor.

Note the following regarding the process of supervision:

·         You are responsible to contact your supervisor and to submit work on a regular basis on different sections of the thesis.

·         The supervisor will offer feedback in three points: (i) the front part of the thesis (‘Abstract’, ‘Introduction’, ‘Literature Review’ and ‘Methodology’); (ii) the ‘Results’ and (iii) the complete draft of the thesis.

·         The supervisor may, in agreement with the SPL, withdraw the confirmation of supervision if, over a long period of time and despite repeated reminders, there is obviously no progress in the completion of the master thesis.


6. Writing your Master Thesis

Always keep in mind that it is the written text that is evaluated. However much time and effort has gone into the research, the assessment stands or falls on the quality of the written text. Therefore the structure and  clarity of the Master Thesis are both crucial. There is no one right way to write a Master Thesis because each project is unique; however, the following guidelines should help:

  • Title page needs to be designed according to a draft available at the StudienServiceCenter which you can find here.
  • Acknowledgements. It is courteous to thank people for any help you have been given. Acknowledgements are usually placed at the beginning of the dissertation after the title page and before the contents page.
  • Abstract giving a short overview of the work in your Master Thesis in English and German.
  • Table of contents giving page numbers for all major section headings.
  • Introduction which sets out the general topic that you researched, the specific questions that you addressed, and why these are interesting and important from a theoretical/managerial point of view.
  • Review of literature by other scholars which informs the theoretical and empirical issues underpinning your own research. While you should show that you know what others have written on the topic, do not simply summarise previous research. Instead, write a critical review of the literature which explains why the pieces you review are important and how they inform your own project. This section also needs to discuss the key theoretical lens/lenses undertaken to investigate the research question.
  • Methodology presenting a discussion of the research methods adopted. Explain which method or methods you adopted, why these were appropriate, what the possible limitations of your methods were, and how you analysed the data.
  • Presentation and Discussion of the Findings. The form of these will obviously depend upon the kind of research you undertook. Whatever method you used, however, you need to make sure that the assertions you make in your analysis and discussion can be justified in relation to your research findings. To do so, you will need to provide the appropriate evidence (tables, quotations,  etc.) in the text. In the discussion of findings - in which you draw together the different parts of the Master Thesis - you should connect your own empirical research back to issues, concepts and the theoretical lens/lenses you considered at the beginning of the Master Thesis and to the literature you reviewed.
  • Conclusion. Here you should discuss the overall implications of your study for International Business theory and practice. You should also address your study’s limitations and suggest avenues for further research.
  • References which provide full citations for all of the sources (public documents, scholarly literature, internet resources, etc.) that you have mentioned in the text. It is vital to make sure that you do this properly (see next point for advice on referencing). Do not include works that you read but did not cite in the Master Thesis itself.
  • Appendices: Where relevant, your Master Thesis will include appendices. Copies of cover letters, interview schedules or questionnaires should be presented in an appendix. You may also include some statistical tables not analysed in the text. In general, try to keep Appendices to a minimum. Additionally, you are expected to append a German as well as an English summary (1-2  pages  each).


For guidelines on academic writing please browse through the following:

The printout of the Master Thesis has to be of good quality (preferable no inkjet printers), emphasising the readability of the text and duplex printed. A sloppy manuscript may give the appearance of sloppy work in general and your mark could suffer as a result. Master  Theses  are  required  to  be  additionally  handed  in  electronically.  For  information on the electronic submission and some general formal requirements see: and



Correct citation is very important and the Master Thesis must not include any mistakes in this regard. The Chair of International Business does not suggest a specific citation system but it is indispensable that the chosen style is consistently applied throughout the Master Thesis. The following sites give useful guidelines on citing:




Consult the General Master Thesis Guidelines provided by the Faculty of Business, Economics and Statistics (or download .pdf here).

For admin enquiries please contact Ms. Ladenstein (, for academic enquiries please contact your supervisor directly.

Guidelines for a Master Thesis

What is the Master Thesis?

The Master Thesis provides you with the opportunity to put together the various skills that you have acquired in the course of your studies, and to demonstrate your competence as a researcher. It allows you to apply your acquired skills in studying a specific International Business topic; produce original research through the application of an appropriate social science method; undertake data analysis; and, finally, present your results in writing. It sounds daunting, but students generally manage to produce their Master Thesis in time and even enjoy doing it!

The Master Thesis is a major piece of work which all students on the University of Vienna’s Masters degree programmes undertake. To reflect its importance you should devote a commensurate amount of time to it.

There are four main differences between the Master Thesis and the essays that you are accustomed to writing for your other courses:

  1. It is focused upon a topic that you have chosen.
  2. It is based upon your own original research. It involves collection and analysis of data to address a research problem.
  3. It reflects your own thinking, based on your study of International Business literature and the data you collect.
  4. It allows you time to develop your ideas, and space to present them.


Choosing a topic for your Master Thesis

The choice of your Master Thesis topic is your responsibility. This is a major element of your study at the University of Vienna, and you must achieve a pass grade in order to be awarded a degree. It is most important that you choose an area you are happy to work in, and in which you are confident of your abilities, because you will be spending a lot of time on it, and ultimately this will be an important item on your CV!

Ideally, we would like you to come up with the basic topic idea, though it is likely to be modified after discussion with a member of the staff. Once you have done so then you should approach a potential supervisor to discuss the details and ask them if they would be willing to supervise it.


Size & Scope of the Master Thesis

There is no general page limit but it should be apparent that the Master Thesis has to be a substantive piece of scientific work. A good approach is to start the Master Thesis with a critical review of relevant literature identifying existing research gaps. This, in turn, serves as the  starting  point  for  subsequent conceptualisation and hypotheses development. Long repetitions of already existing work are not necessary, a  short summary and a clear reference to the quoted sources is sufficient.

Concept definitions must be precisely formulated and clearly explained in the context of the topic. It is advisable to check for consistency in definitions between different approaches in literature. In case of inconsistencies, a rationale for the chosen approach must be provided.

The overall structure of the work has to resemble the approach taken to address the research question at hand and should be kept relatively simple. You should construct a preliminary  structure of the work and discuss it with your supervisor as early as possible. One example can be found in the latter section ‘Writing your Master Thesis’.

The readability of the work is of paramount importance. An uninformed reader must be able to follow the thread of the Master Thesis and deepen her/his knowledge by the cited references. Constantly ask yourself the following basic questions which will help you to keep on track:

  1. What is the problem at hand?
  2. Why is it important?
  3. How can the problem be addressed?
  4. Can a different approach address the problem in a better way?


Timeframe for the Master Thesis

A Master Thesis involves a substantial amount of time to complete and therefore has to be pursued with true commitment. The Chair of International Business encourages 12 months time to its completion and appreciates dedicated work. To achieve this goal, regular meetings with your supervisor as well as attendance at the Masterkonversatorium throughout the semester are important and must not be taken lightly.


Presentation of the Master Thesis

The general format of the Master Thesis is based on DIN A4 paper (210 x 297 mm), upright format, double sided, and the margin should be selected that a binding is possible. The font of the study should be Times New Roman with 12pt, 1.5 line-spacing with full justification. The use of bold, italic, and underlined formatting is appreciated but should not impede the consistency of the text. The headline should include the name of the respective chapter while the footer should only contain the page number. Please also note that, due to pseudonymisation of data during plagiarism control, no personal data (matriculation number, name, etc.) may be included in your thesis from page 7 onwards.

Footnotes can be used but should be limited to making important clarifications or references to other fields of research. Footnotes are definitely not a place to stuff numerous quotations and remarks.

The use of tables and figures is recommended if they help to illustrate or understand the text. They should be consistently numbered, titled and clearly presented. Abbreviations and codes used in the tables should be made clear, perhaps in a key at the bottom of the table. Only include tables and figures that are mentioned and discussed in the text. If the table is based on data other than your own, always provide the source of the table or the data at the bottom of the table.

Special attention should be given to the use of correct English grammar and syntax. A good recap on English grammar can be found at “The  American  Heritage  Book  of  English  Usage”. The most exhaustive online dictionary for English/German and vice versa is LEO



It is important for you to realise that there are strict rules governing your behaviour in an academic setting. We at the Chair of International Business regard the act of plagiarism as a serious academic offence, which is totally unacceptable in a scholarly community dedicated to the pursuit of knowledge. Students who engage in plagiarism undermine the values and beliefs that underpin academic work, anger and discourage other students who do not use such tactics and devalue the integrity of University of Vienna awards and qualifications.

It is an academic offence for a student to use another person’s work and to submit it with the intent that it should be taken as his or her own. Any work which is not undertaken in an Examination Room under the supervision of an invigilator (including but not limited to: essays, project work, reports, experiments, observations, and specimen collecting), but which is nevertheless required work forming part of the degree assessment, must be the student’s own.

Without prejudice to the generality of the foregoing, the following are some examples of plagiarism offences:

  • Collusion, where a piece of work prepared by a group is represented as if it were the student’s own.
  • Commission or use of work by the student which is not his or her own and representing it as if it were (e.g., paying ghost writers, wholesale downloading of coursework, cut-and-paste plagiarism).
  • Duplication of the same or almost identical work for more than one course.
  • Copying or paraphrasing a paper from a source text without appropriate acknowledge.
  • Submission of another student’s work, with or without that student’s knowledge or consent.


How do I submit my Master Thesis?

General information on how to submit the master thesis can be found in the guidelines of the Faculty of Business and Economics. Your thesis will be uploaded in PDF format to the university server ( and it will be automatically checked for plagiarism with the help of special software (Turn it in).  Should there be any matches/text similarities, the relevant passages are marked for further assessment. The study program directors (SPL) are responsible for evaluating the results of the electronic plagiarism check together with the respective supervisor. Ultimately, they will decide whether the text similarities count as plagiarism or not. You will be notified once the plagiarism check is completed and – in case of no plagiarism – that the thesis has been forwarded to your supervisor.

After you have successfully uploaded your work, you will receive a confirmation email. Please do not include any sensitive data (e.g. phone number in CV) in the documents. The email must be printed out, signed and enclosed when submitting the print version at the SSC (three hard copies (1 for library, 1 for supervisor, 1 for SSC), all within 10 days or no graduation documents can be issued. The upload confirmation automatically contains the affidavits.

After submission, the SSC sends the thesis to your supervisor for evaluation. Within a maximum of eight weeks your supervisor finishes the evaluation and reports the grade to the SSC.