PHD Business Topic and Plan Outline Sample

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How Low Rewards Can Impact Nurses’ Motivation During Covid-19 in Line with the Effort-Reward Imbalance (ERI) Theory

Research Background and Problem Statement 

Effort-Reward Imbalance (ERI) theory is a prominent theory related to employee behaviour and psychology. It explains that if a worker puts more effort and gets low rewards, it can lead to stress and dissatisfaction (Siegrist et al., 2004). The nursing staff was under great mental and physical pressure during the Covid-19 pandemic (Hunter et al., 2020).

Regarding the ERI theory, it can be argued that during the Covid-19 pandemic, nurses must be given extra rewards to keep them motivated to work. It is because the nursing staff is most vulnerable during the pandemic, and they put more effort into working in a life-threatening situation (Nashwan et al., 2021). By receiving the same rewards they were receiving in a normal situation, they may feel they were getting low rewards.

Because of this, it is important to identify the impact of low rewards during Covid-19 on nurses’ motivation in line with the Effort-Reward Imbalance (ERI) theory. Covid-19 is a recent phenomenon; therefore, there are limited studies in which the impact of low rewards during Covid-19 on NHS nurses’ motivation is evaluated (AlAbri & Siron, 2020). Therefore, this proposed study is important because it focuses on the impact of low rewards compared to the efforts put by NHS nurses on their motivation.

Aim and Objectives 

This study empirically evaluates the impact of low rewards compared with the efforts put by NHS nurses on their motivation.

  • To explore the findings of the present studies highlighting the impact of low rewards compared with the efforts put by NHS nurses on their motivation.
  • To study the impact of low rewards compared to the efforts put by NHS nurses on the motivation of the NHS nurses during Covid-19 in the UK.
  • To make recommendations for offering higher rewards to the NHS nurses to increase their motivation during Covid-19 in the UK.

Proposed Methodology

Primary quantitative research will be used in this study, so a deductive approach and Positivism philosophy will be employed (Saunders, Lewis, & Thornhill, 2012). The research population is based on NHS nurses working in the UK, and a sample of 150 NHS nurses will be selected. The data will be collected using a questionnaire.

A purposive sampling method will be used, and the questionnaire-based survey will be done online. The dependent variable is ‘nurses’ motivation’, while the independent variable is ‘low rewards in comparison with the efforts’ (imbalance between effort and reward). Two scales will be used in the questionnaire: the Motivation at Work Scale (MAWS) and Effort-Reward Imbalance (ERI) Scale.

The MAWS was created by Gagné et al. (2010), and it is used to measure the motivation of employees in the workplace. The ERI Scale was developed by Siegrist et al. (2004) and is used to measure the imbalance between effort and reward (low rewards in comparison with the efforts). Permission will be accessed from the authors of the two scales. To analyse the data, regression analysis in SPSS will be employed. The results will confirm whether low rewards compared to efforts during Covid-19 can negatively impact nurses’ motivation (Bryman & Bell, 2015).


AlAbri, I., & Siron, R. B. (2020). Health Care Professional Attitude and Motivation During COVID-19: A Case of Health Sector of Oman. Systematic Reviews in Pharmacy, 11(9), pp. 1035-1040.

Bryman, A., & Bell, E. (2015). Business research methods. Oxford University Press, USA.

Gagné, M., Forest, J., Gilbert, M., Aube, C., Morin, E. M., & Malorni, A. (2010). The Motivation at Work Scale: Validation Evidence in Two Languages. Educational and Psychological Measurement, 70(4), 628-646. DOI:10.1177/0013164409355698

Hunter, E., Price, D.A., Murphy, E. Van der Loe, I.S., Baker, K.F., Lendrem, D., Lendrem, C., Schmid, M.L., and Pareja-Cebrian, L. (2020). Andrew Welch First experience of COVID-19 screening of healthcare workers in England. Lancet, 395, e77–e78.

Nashwan, A. J., Abujaber, A. A., Mohamed, A. S., Villar, R. C., & Al‐Jabry, M. M. (2021). Nurses’ willingness to work with COVID‐19 patients: The role of knowledge and attitude. Nursing Open, 8(2), 695-701.

Saunders, M. N., Lewis, P. & Thornhill, A. (2012). Research Methods for Business Students. London: Pearson.

Siegrist, J., Starke, D., Chandola, T., Godin, I., Marmot, M., Niedhammer, I., & Peter, R. (2004). The measurement of Effort-Reward Imbalance at work: European comparisons. Social Science & Medicine, 58(8), 1483-1499.

Frequently Asked Questions

To create a Ph.D. dissertation outline, follow these steps:

  1. Define research question.
  2. Outline chapters & key points.
  3. Organize supporting literature.
  4. Develop methodology.
  5. Plan data analysis.
  6. Compose conclusion.
  7. Review & refine the outline.