Effective future leadership development programmes


BRM5035 Research Proposal: MODULE ASSESSMENT

Word Count: 3,000
This assessment requires you to design and set out a research proposal in response to one (1) of the scenarios set out below. You are to imagine that you are responding to an invitation to submit a research proposal sponsored by a particular organization. Choose one from the following:

A multi-national company offering financial services is keen to establish what makes effective leadership to improve its performance and inform its future leadership development programmes. It wishes to understand which leadership styles, factors and approaches produce the most effective business outcomes and overall business success. It is keen to understand whether factors such as age, experience, professional and management training are influential in any degree, and whether there are differences between different parts of the company or different parts of the world.

Your research proposal should be structured as follows:

Background and Aims of the Study: This should include your interpretation of the brief – setting out the reasons for the research and a clear statement of the aims and objectives of the research (or central research question and sub-questions) It should also provide a suitable context and background for the issues and topic under investigation.

Review of the Literature: This should include a relevant and critical overview of the existing literature on the topic of study. What is already known, what are the key issues and areas of debate? You will need to establish the current state of knowledge on the topic under investigation (the theories, concepts, ideas, issues, debates and so on) A literature review is not simply a description of relevant books/journals that you have read or that you think will be helpful to your research. You should paraphrase and critique (i.e. restate, in your own words, the main points made by the writer(s) in question, in addition to evaluating their contribution.

Research Design: This sets out your proposed research methodology and design including sampling strategies, data collection methods and techniques, and methods of analysis. You need to provide a concise explanation of the approach and method(s) that you proposing in order to operationalize your research objectives. You should mention the options open to you (e.g. a quantitative, qualitative approach, multi-method), state and justify the reasons for the option you have chosen. Thought should be given to the sample (who, how many, where and so on) and for example, in the case of a questionnaire survey, reflect on issues such as the likely response rate, the type and wording of questions, and the statistical tests to be used in analysis of the data. For qualitative methods such as focus groups, and interviews, thought should be given to the potential participants, the methods of recording and transcription, and the analytical techniques to be used. For documents, comment on the availability of archive material, and the method(s) of textual analysis to be employed. You will also need to comment on matters of ethics, validity, reliability and generalisability.

Appendices: Rather than disrupt the flow of the research proposal writing, relevant documentation can be placed in an appendix.

List of References: a full and detailed list of references should be included particularly relating to your literature review and research methodology.


Marks will be given to your research proposal on the basis of four broad areas as follows:


This should include the introduction to the chosen topic of study. It should have a clear purpose and the aims/objections (or central research question and sub questions) should be clear, relevant and coherent. These should not be simply descriptive but involve explanation, comparison, evaluation or criticism. There should be an analysis of the background to the topic.


This section should include an overview of the relevant existing literature on your topic of study; it needs to be inter-disciplinary wherever possible and theoretically rooted; the review needs to demonstrate a critical attitude towards source material i.e. does it compare, contrast and criticise a number of relevant concepts, models and theories in terms of their internal logic, structure and consistency; and the review should deal with the key themes and debates surrounding your research question.


This section should set out and justify your broad research approach. It should outline the methodology together with the advantages/disadvantages of different methods as well as your chosen approach; your sampling method, research technique(s) and method of analysis should be outlined; issues of reliability, ethics, validity and generalizability need to be discussed.


The proposal needs to be well written and structured. Use report style format with appropriate headings and sub-headings. Use page numbers and number tables and figures. Provide a list of contents, appendices and figures. Include a list of references using the Harvard Referencing system.

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