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Master's thesis

Students who are interested in writing their master's thesis at our chair can generally choose between writing a research-oriented or an industry-related thesis.

Prerequisite for writing a master's thesis at our department is the successful completion of a seminar MKT 7X0 at one of the marketing chairs (LS Homburg MKT 710, LS Stahl MKT 720, LS Kuester MKT 730 or LS Kraus MKT 740) and the successful completion of the courses MKT 510 (or MKT 301) and MKT 520. The prerequisites for attending the seminars are listed on the respective information pages of the seminars.

We recommend that students write their Master's thesis at the chair where the seminar paper was written, thus enabling early involvement in the respective research and project work of the chair.

Florian Holz, M.Sc.

Florian Holz, M.Sc.

Contact person for master's theses

For further information please contact Florian Holz.

Informationen about the master's thesis


Research-oriented topics

  • Marketing Strategy

    • The curse of low-involvement products in times of thrilling alternatives

      Advisor: Stephan Mettler

      In times of social media and an increasing desire of customers to share their experiences with a product or service, many companies struggle to position low-involvement products among its target group. A promising solution to that issue might be to digitize products using IoT (Internet of Things) devices in order to provide customers with additional benefits and services.

      Against this background, the superordinate goals of this master thesis are (1) to review and systemize relevant academic literature, (2) to identify potential ways to increase customer involvement for low-involvement products in a digital environment, and (3) to elaborate how these insights could be used by organizations. To analyze this topic, a survey or expert interviews might be conducted. More specific research questions and the way of inquiry can be determined individually.

      This master thesis may also be written in German

    • Let me see what you are doing: Gaining insights from customer usage behavior

      Advisor: Stephan Mettler

      Many Internet-of-Things/Smart devices enable manufacturers to track their customers' usage behavior. Academic literature names potential benefits for manufacturers like gaining insights into customer habits, research and development of new product features, and improvements in customer-device interaction. What hasn't been the focal point of research is the customers' perceptions of their personal data usage and, more specifically, potential thresholds for the customer.

      Against this background, the superordinate goals of this master thesis are (1) to review and systemize relevant academic literature, (2) to identify potential thresholds for the customers regarding the nature of data that the manufacturer is gathering, and (3) to elaborate how these thresholds can be used by organizations. To analyze this topic, a survey or expert interviews might be conducted. More specific research questions and the way of inquiry can be determined individually.

      This master thesis may also be written in German.

  • Product and Innovation Management

    • Augmented Reality in B2B organizations

      Advisor: Janina Riether

      Augmented Reality links the real with the virtual world and offers promising opportunities for B2B business operations. Especially since the Covid-19 pandemic, these types of technologies have experienced a boost. While technologies like Augmented Reality via smart glasses are still in its infancy, they already find promising applications in the B2C area. However, applications and underlying mechanisms in B2B business operations are under researched until now.

      Concerning this background, the superordinate goals of this master thesis are (1) to review and systemize relevant academic literature, (2) to identify potential applications in B2B business operations, and (3) to elaborate which mechanisms and consequences can be derived for organizations. To analyze this topic, a survey and/or expert interviews might be conducted. More specific research questions and the way of inquiry can be determined individually.

      This master thesis may also be written in German.

  • Price Management

    • Sales Management

      • Salesperson Stress and Health

        Advisor: Dr. Robin-Christopher Ruhnau

        Salespeople often have a lot of tasks to juggle, be it acquiring new customers, retaining existing customers, winning-back lost customers, or analyzing the market. At the same time, many salespeople are compensated based on their success, often with a high share of variable compensation. Consequently, jobs in sales can be very challenging and stressful.

        However, very few studies address the main sources of stress in salespeople’s daily work or how firms and employees can mitigate these stressors. Against this background, this master’s thesis first summarizes existing literature in this context. Then, the goal is to empirically investigate facets of salesperson stress and health, for example, by conducting expert interviews. Specific research questions and the design of the empirics can be determined individually.

        This master’s thesis may also be written in German.

      • The Virtualization of B2B Sales – Implications of Augmented Reality technologies for B2B sales & the customer experience

        Advisor: Janina Riether

        Augmented Reality links the real with the virtual world and offers promising opportunities for B2B business operations. Especially since the Covid-19 pandemic and the development of the ‘metaverse’, these types of technologies have experienced a boost. Until now, technologies like Augmented Reality find already promising applications in the B2C area. However, applications and underlying mechanisms in B2B business operations are under researched until now. Especially in the field of B2B sales and the B2B customer journey (buyer perspective) nearly no research on Augmented Reality can be found.

        Concerning this background, the superordinate goals of this master thesis are (1) to review and systemize relevant academic literature, (2) to identify potential applications in B2B sales & purchasing, and (3) to elaborate which mechanisms and consequences can be derived for organizations. To analyse this topic, a survey or expert interviews might be conducted. More specific research questions and the way of inquiry can be determined individually.

        This master thesis may also be written in German.

      • Negotiations Strategies in Servitization

        Advisor: Stefan Hartmann

        A large body of research on business negotiations analyzes strategies and tactics to achieve a beneficial outcome. However, most of these studies focus on negotiations around goods and a small fraction focuses on services. A rather neglected area of research are negotiations in relation to Servitization. Servitization describes the process of building revenue streams around products by offering relevant services. This form of business is getting more and more popular among manufacturers. Thereby, the relationship between seller and buyer is redefined from a one-time purchase to an ongoing relationship. 

        Against this background, the superordinate goals of this master thesis are (1) to review and systemize relevant academic literature, (2) to identify the differences between negotiation strategies to the type of product provided and how Servitization reshapes negotiation behavior and the strategies and (3) to determine how providers might take advantage of the new situation.

        This master thesis may also be written in German.

      • The Organization behind the Negotiator

        Advisor: Stefan Hartmann

        The successful management of negotiations in the B2B environment has gained increasing importance. For example, companies are facing higher transparency and an increasing performance pressure. Prior research mainly focused on characteristics of an individual as negotiator (e.g. demographics, personality) or teams as negotiators (e.g. team size, power relation between team members). The organization as a whole is mostly neglected. It remains unclear how firms can leverage factors on the organizational level to improve negotiation performance.

        Against this background, the superordinate goals of this master thesis are (1) to identify and analyze the instruments used on an organizational level to support negotiators, (2) to elaborate how these instruments are perceived by sales managers and sales employees and embedded into the organizational culture, structure or strategy and (3) to assess their effectiveness on the negotiation performance.

        To analyze this topic, a survey or expert interviews might be conducted. This master thesis may also be written in German.

      • Women in B2B Sales and the Workplace

        Advisor: Aline Lanzrath

        Gender diversity has been shown to have a positive impact not only on corporate culture but also on the company's profit line. Similarly, research has shown that companies with a higher level of gender diversity in their sales force significantly exceed their sales targets compared to single gender sales teams.  These results contrast with the continuing under-representation of women in B2B sales, with the sales function facing the second largest gender equality gap of all corporate functions. Among others, the persistence of gender stereotypes in sales has been shown to contribute to this phenomenon. However, despite the high practical and societal relevance, research on gender stereotypes in sales is extremely sparse.

        Against this background, the aim of the master thesis is (1) to review and systematize relevant academic literature on gender stereotypes in marketing and sales and (2) identify barriers that prevent women to choose a career in B2B Sales. To analyze this issue, a survey or expert interviews may be conducted.

      • Convenience or annoyance? Effects of cross-selling offers in online stores on consumer motivation to cross-buy during the CoVid-19 crisis

        Advisor: Maximilian Knapp

        “Other customers also bought …” or similar phrases are often used by online stores to convince their customers to buy additional products on top of the originally desired one.
        The purchase of these additionally offered products is called cross-buying and has long since been an important part of turnover of online as well as offline shops. Over the last decades, selling additional products has become a great way to increase online sales of companies. However convenient this practice might be for interested customers; these offerings of other products can also be quite annoying if presented in a way that disturbs the user experience.

        Against this background, the superordinate goals of this master thesis are (1) to review and systemize relevant academic literature, (2) to identify strengthening and inhibiting factors of online cross-buying behaviors from the seller’s perspective and (3) to elaborate best practices to approach customers with offerings of additional products.

        This master thesis may also be written in German.

      • Perceptions of salespeople in society

        Advisor: Aline Lanzrath

        What comes to your mind when you think about salespeople? Is it the insurance agent trying to convince you to buy a life insurance? Is the stereotype you do have in mind male and characterized by traits like ‘pushiness´, ‘competiveness’ and ‘talkativeness’? Yes? But does this stereotype actually reflect the role of salespeople in a today’s digitized world, especially in the B2B context? Despite the high theoretical and practical relevance, research examining (mis-)perceptions of the salesperson’s role remains scarce.   
         
        Against this background, the superordinate goals of this master thesis are (1) to review the relevant academic literature, (2) to conduct a survey including a measurement of salesperson stereotypes (3) to analyse the results and discuss the findings.  
         
        The master thesis may also be written in German.

      • Education or Experience: How Important is an Academic Background when Applying in Sales?

        Advisor: Robin Wagner-Fabisch
        In the past, organizations were primarily on the outlook for sales reps with pronounced selling skills such as persuasion or eloquence. Even if these capabilities still play some notable role in their daily work, more analytical and strategic requirements dominate the remit of today’s sales employees.

        Against this background, the superordinate goals of this master thesis are (1) to review and systemize relevant academic literature on sales academization, (2) to identify the antecedents as well as consequences for better-educated sales employees, and (3) to discuss how firms can effectively respond to the requirements that are demanded by today’s academized sales reps. 

        To analyze this topic, a survey or expert interviews might be conducted. More specific research questions and the way of inquiry can be determined individually. This master thesis may also be written in German.

      • Pricing Authority for the Sales Force: Still Possible in Today’s Transparent World?

        Advisor: Robin Wagner-Fabisch
        Setting optimal prices is complex in B2B relationships; prices typically vary from one customer account to another, and are therefore highly confidential. Since the individual sales employees know best about their customers, they usually play the major role in the negotiation processes. However, due to digitalization in general and the resulting transparency in particular, sensitive price information no longer remain behind closed doors and question the continuation of flexible pricing.    

        Against this background, the superordinate goals of this master thesis are (1) to review and systemize relevant academic literature on pricing authority, (2) to identify the consequences of digitalization on the delegation of pricing authority to the sales force, and (3) to outline possible countermeasures to defend the salespeople’s freedom to decide about prices.

        To analyze this topic, expert interviews might be conducted. More specific research questions and the way of inquiry can be determined individually. This master thesis may also be written in German.

      • Compensating today’s key account management teams: Is fixed salary really king?

        Advisor: Sebastian Junker

        In sales, there is a shift towards agile, cross-functional teams – “pods”, among others, concentrating expertise from different areas. Despite the tendencies toward agility and flexibility, especially KAM requires long-term planning and customer relationship management that focuses on growth over a long time rather than servicing existing customers (Gartner 2019). New, changing team structures call for a structural review of how to manage KAM teams considering all organizational success factors, amidst which incentivization and compensation have not been the focus so far.

        Against this background, the superordinate goals of this master thesis are (1) to review and systemize relevant academic literature on team compensation, (2) to identify the antecedents as well as consequences of fixed versus variable pay on key account management teams, and (3) to discuss how firms can effectively adapt, optimize and customize their compensation structure as demanded by today’s team skills and role variety.

        To analyze this topic, a survey or expert interviews might be conducted. More specific research questions and the way of inquiry can be determined individually.

        This master thesis may also be written in German.

      • The value-added trap: How agile key account teams strive for long-term growth

        Advisor: Sebastian Junker

        Agility, i.e., the ability to adapt to rapid changes and govern complex, networked inter-organizational forms, is a critical capability within the next decade and, therefore, a key priority in current sales research – not only in today’s post-crisis world but also due to increasing uncertainty and rapid change. So far, academics have not solved the question of how to break down functional silos within marketing and sales and the remaining organization, much less the potential benefits from this transformation. Especially, this question becomes pressing as KAM requires holistic and long-term relationship management with key customers and partners with a clear focus on long-term growth.

        Against this background, the superordinate goals of this master thesis are (1) to review and systemize relevant academic literature on sales (team) agility, (2) to identify the antecedents as well as consequences of agility on key account management teams, and (3) to discuss how firms can implement team- and corporation-wide agility to help their key account management to apply long-term growth-oriented behavior without forfeiting financial performance.

        To analyze this topic, a survey or expert interviews might be conducted. More specific research questions and the way of inquiry can be determined individually.

        This master thesis may also be written in German.

      • Never change a winning team! Corporate unwillingness for new sales team structures

        Advisor: Sebastian Junker

        Many multinational companies face team structures that have been effective when started in an earlier setting but have become unsuccessful after substantial growth: Siloed structures and processes. In comparison, an agile, “pod”-driven set-up may boost sales performance shown by a small number of brave “early adopters”. However, changing team structures triggers questions that need an answer: What is the optimal compensation structure? How should teams work together? How should reporting lines be designed? Today’s companies that consider time critical most likely avoid these fundamental issues.

        Against this background, the superordinate goals of this master thesis are (1) to review and systemize current, relevant academic literature on B2B, sales, and key account management teams, (2) to identify the different success factors for team transformation incorporating flexible and agile approaches, and (3) to discuss barriers and chances that firms have to overcome when altering their traditional way of managing internal (sales) teams.

        To analyze this topic, a survey or expert interviews might be conducted. More specific research questions and the way of inquiry can be determined individually.

        This master thesis may also be written in German.

    • Communication and Customer Relationship Management

      • Communicative Customer Win-Back Management

        Advisor: Dr. Robin-Christopher Ruhnau

        Customer Win-Back aims at creating value for firms by winning back lost customers. While lost customers are a reality to almost any firm, many firms still do not exhibit systematic win-back efforts or none at all, and research is scarce. One aspect that the existing win-back literature neglects completely is communication (e.g., how does the ideal win-back communication look like?). Yet, communication is a necessary part of win-back offers (somehow, the offer needs to be communicated) and maybe a cost-efficient way of winning customers back on its own, too.

        This thesis reviews the literature on customer win-back and related areas (e.g., service failure and recovery) to shed light on the role of communication as a part of customer win-back management. One potential research question is whether/how win-back efforts can be purely communicative but still successful. What is more, the thesis will investigate selected aspects of win-back communications empirically, for instance, with analyses of real-world win-back communication, expert interviews, or (lab) experiments.  

        This Master’s thesis may also be written in German.

    • Other research areas

      • Marketing from an Investors’ Perspective

        Advisor: Dr. Robin-Christopher Ruhnau

        The question of what marketing really is is everything but a trivial question. Still today, many think that marketing equals advertising. In fact, there are various definitions of marketing, ranging from merely describing a business function to describing everything a firm does to succeed in the marketplace. Beyond succeeding in the marketplace itself, publicly-listed firms strive to succeed in financial markets–that is, increase their firm value in terms of share prices. Essentially, firm value is a function of what investors think of a firm, including its marketing.

        However, literature on marketing from a finance or investors’ perspective is still a rather small field of research. Although we know that financial markets react to and value different types of marketing information, such as the level of customer satisfaction, we know little about how investors and financial markets value or perceive firms’ marketing itself.

        Against this background, this master’s thesis takes an investors’ perspective on marketing. First, as a starting point, the thesis systematically analyses literature on the interface of marketing and finance. Second, the thesis empirically investigates marketing from an investors’ perspective, for example, by conducting expert interviews with researchers, managers, investors, and financial analysts. Specific research questions and the design of the empirics can be determined individually.

      • The role of organizational identification in B2B buyer’s purchasing behavior

        Advisor: Guzi Huang

        While there has been extensive research on consumer behavior, the buying behavior of organizational buyers have generally received little attention. One of the main distinctions between B2C and B2B purchasing is that B2B buyers are neither buying for themselves nor spending their own money. In the domain of organizational psychology, individual’s identity and identification at work are seen as prominent factors behind many work-related behaviors. Yet, it remains unclear whether and how B2B buyer’s purchasing behavior is influenced by their organizational identification.

        Will organizational buyers be more price sensitive and behave more like a consumer when they identify themselves more with their companies? Are less engaged purchasing managers more likely to choose a “good enough” supplier instead of finding the optimal one? These or other questions could be investigated in order to contribute to this field of research.

        Against this background, the superordinate goals of this master thesis are (1) to review and systematize relevant academic literature, (2) to draw research propositions on the role of organizational identification and/or associated constructs (e.g., organizational commitment, employee engagement, job involvement) in B2B buyer’s purchasing behavior, and (3) to draw managerial implications from both the selling and buying perspectives basing on the findings.

        To analyze this issue, a survey or expert interviews may be conducted. Cross-cultural investigations are encouraged.

      • Merely an Advertising Function? How Non-Marketers Perceive and Consider Marketing

        Advisor: Dr. Robin-Christopher Ruhnau

        From a marketer’s perspective, marketing is so much more than just advertising and, in contrast, essentially responsible for a large proportion of what firms do and offer. Similarly, marketing literature portraits marketing as the firm’s primary growth function. Yet it is unclear whether this broad and growth-oriented view of marketing is how relevant non-marketing stakeholders view marketing. Regarding financial markets, for instance, practitioner reports suggest that many analysts and investors consider marketing knowledge to be relatively unimportant. Arguably, marketing may be subject to widespread stereotypes, for example, embracing that it is merely an advertising function or a cost center.

        This thesis addresses how non-marketing stakeholders (possibly with a focus on selected stakeholder groups like investors) perceive marketing as a discipline and as a function in firms. Beyond the mere perception, the consequences of these non-marketer perceptions (e.g., regarding strategic decisions or investments) are of particular interest for the thesis. A major goal of this thesis is to conduct empirical research addressing the focal topic, without already being limited to a specific empirical approach (e.g., survey, lab experiments, qualitative interviews, automated text analysis).

        This Master’s thesis may also be written in German.

      • Fades and Fashions in Marketing Research

        Advisor: Aline Lanzrath

        The world of marketing and sales is constantly changing due to constant organizational, scientific, technological and economic changes. To remain relevant, academic researchers must incorporate these trends into their research. But is this actually the case in today's academic research world, or do researchers lag behind the actual developments in the business world?  The goal of this research is to identify trends in the scientific discourse in marketing and sales by examining temporal changes in the occurrence of words or expressions in research articles, identifying latent research topics and thus identifying trending issues. For this purpose, abstracts and articles published in the field of marketing in the years 2000 to 2020 might be analyzed with the help of tidytext in R.

         

      • Employer Branding in the Digital Era – How to attract and retain “Millennials”

        Advisor: Aline Lanzrath

        Attracting and retaining the right talent is critical to the success of a business. This is especially true today, as shifts in demographic trends are leading to a shortage of qualified talent in many labor markets. To attract talents and establish the firm as an “employer of choice”, companies therefore increasingly need to focus on sending consistent and clear brand signals through their employer brand.

        However, despite its high practical importance, research on the success factors of employer branding is scarce. In particular, it remains unclear how communication strategies (e.g. job descriptions) should be designed to meet the changing work expectations of a new generation, often referred to as “Millennials”. 

        Against this background, the objective of the master thesis is (1) to review and systematize the relevant academic literature on challenges and success factors in the field of employer branding in a digital era and (2) to conduct an empirical analysis of current recruiting and employer branding strategies. To approach this topic a text mining data analysis using tidytext in R might be conducted.

      • Online advertising in times of adblockers

        Advisor: Maximilian Knapp

        In times of the internet, many small and big firms pay websites to show their ads to a variety of potential customers. Some customers nowadays use adblockers, which automatically detect ads and remove them. However the grew to in return use anti-adblockers to take counter-measures. Those anti-adblockers vary from scripts merely telling the user to think about allowing ads on the current website to harsh measures like disabling all the other content on the current website until the user disables the adblocker. It proves to be difficult to get adblock users to allow the monetary wise important ads for the displaying website and meanwhile still let them have an enjoyable user experience.

        Against this background, the superordinate goals of this master thesis are (1) to review and systemize relevant academic literature, (2) to analyze the different kinds of anti-adblocker measures there are and (3) to elaborate a way how adblock users should best be approached to allow ads being displayed.

        This master thesis may also be written in German.

    If you are interested in any of the topics listed above please contact the listed thesis advisor directly.

    In case you would like to propose your own topic, please contact Florian Holz.


    Industry-related topics

    Below you may find industry-related topics that either are focused on current issues in specific industries or offered for research in cooperation with a particular company.

     

    If you have any questions concerning industry-related topics, please contact the respective thesis advisor directly. In case of inquiries about topics in cooperation with a company, please contact Florian Holz.

    Provided that you want to contact a company concering your master's thesis yourself, please get in touch with the staff at our chair beforehand.