Sunday, April 17, 2011

By Jove, I think [he's] got it!

Well this is just downright exciting. I'm excited.

Matt's 9-Step Research Process:

1. Google!
2. Bang head against wall
3. Refine search terms
4. Search scholarly databases in addition to Google
5. Ingest copious amounts of caffeine (preferably in the form of Mt. Dew)
6. Read
7. Throw away what just took me 20-60 minutes to find
8. Repeat process from step 2 until...
9. Success! (or concussion/caffeine-induced heart attack)

Seriously. It's a scientifically-proven method. Don't mess with science.

So what did I find this week? What have I got?

I got me a thesis. It's sleek, trim, and sexy with just the right amount of sass--and what's more, this is the kind of thesis that would be guaranteed to impress if you took it home to meet the folks too. Really, it's a winner.

And it's all mine.

Ready? Excited? Yeah, me too.

I started this thing called 'thesis' with this nebulous idea of doing "something with cross-cultural management." All the cool kids are doing it, and I'm not above a little band-wagoning. But then I had to think about it.

"I don't want to be just like all the other kids!" thought I.

This is when my thesis transformed into "Russian cross-cultural management stuff... with maybe some other things," because hey--I like Russia, and by "like" I mean "look upon with the same amount of endearing pity that a small child gives to a three-legged, half-retarded puppy that keeps trying to walk through the solid sliding glass door."

That may have been a bit of creative hyperbole, but I really do have fond memories of Russia and a sincere interest in the country's development. Still, that thesis was only slightly more descriptive than the original, and mostly useless except for the fact that it led me to the final product.


In the first decade after the collapse of the Soviet Union, a lot of effort went into researching the cultural issues and values that make cross-cultural management in Russia such an interesting topic (back to Hofstede's values and the multiple cans-of-worms of implications that they bring). These strategies and modes of thinking about management/leadership in post-soviet Russia persist today, but are based on the idea that the Russian workforce is largely the same today as it was 20 years ago. While it's true that those who were adults and in the workforce at the time of the collapse have comprised the majority of the Russian workforce since that time, there is a fairly clear generational values divide between those who were raised to adulthood in the USSR, and those who have grown to enter the workforce in today's globalized climate. At 20 years since the collapse, this latter segment is becoming more and more significant. That brings me to my thesis statement.


Younger generations of Russians, raised amidst an increasingly globalized economic and political climate, are more able to easily adapt to (and adopt) western management and leadership structures than their older counterparts.

In practical terms, this means a confirmation of both "old dogs can't learn new tricks" and "time heals all wounds." As far as management strategies devised from these findings....? Only hire talented young people if you're making a startup? Wait another decade or two before even trying to do business there? Fire all the old people and start over with young'ns? Actually... I read an article about a successful company in Russia that did exactly that. I need to find that article again... Anywho, that kind of conjecture would be in the conclusions section.

I'm excited because now I have a clear direction to pursue in my interviews and case studies. This is what I will be trying to prove/disprove through the experiences that I will be collecting during the coming months.

So what's the plan before the end of the semester?

1. Keep researching
2. Start scheduling interviews
3. Write up my formal thesis proposal
4. Celebrate

*fist pump*


  1. Matt,
    I like the way you write; and the newly focused thesis statement has great promise.

    A couple of questions:

    1. what literature, scholarly literature will you be working with (annotated bibliography plug)?

    2. why interviews and with whom?

  2. Yes Matt,

    if we had a Cap One end-of-semester awards a la high school yearbooks, you'd be in the running for most fun to read, no doubt.

    Everything will hang on getting a clear contrast between younger and older generations of Russians, whether in available data or by interviews or both.

    And always remember, a falsified thesis is still a good thesis, so consider your current statement a hypothesis you're going to put to the test as best you know how, not a final statement that you have to prove or lose.