Sample Masters Project Management Dissertation Proposal

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Examining Project Selection Frameworks and Methods for Reducing Risks for new Product Development

Title of Dissertation – Examining Project Selection Frameworks and Methods- Developing New Methods while Reducing Risks for New Product Development


Product development is an essential competitive factor for companies. One of the central tasks to maintain competitiveness in an industry, especially engineering companies, is to select which projects are to be developed to achieve the company’s strategic objectives but without exceeding the threshold of available resources (Graves, 2003; Grimaldi et al., 2012; Wei and Chang, 2011). The selection of projects for new product development comes with specific risks attached to it. Therefore, it is essential to analyse the best frameworks or methodologies for choosing the right project, which is the proposed study’s purpose, critical aspects studied in the project portfolio management.

By studying the current models and frameworks for project selection, newer and improved models can minimise risk. This is especially important in engineering companies looking to market their products for both private and corporate consumers. With the constant evolution of technology, engineering companies need to ensure that they can deliver products to clients to aid them with current needs. Hence, selecting projects that provide new products becomes extremely important to survive in an ever-increasing competitive market.

Aim, Objectives, & Research Question

After examining the issues that are to be investigated in the study, the following research question was formed;

What project selection frameworks/methodologies most reduce the risk for new product development in engineering companies?

Hence, the study’s primary aim is to find an appropriate project selection framework for reducing risk for new product development in an engineering company.

To successfully achieve this aim, the following objectives need to be met:

1. Analyse the current frameworks and methods of project selection present in project portfolio management.

2. Using secondary research, examine current literature available that addresses the research topic.

3. Using primary research, examine the current views that project managers or analysis & development executives have towards selecting the right project.

4. Produce a framework for selecting a project that achieves corporate objectives and reduces associated risk to a project in engineering companies.

Literature Review

The proposed research study aims to analyse the previous literature to form a rationale for the current interest topic. The literature review will be constructed using the principles of a systematic literature review. The chapter will provide important background information for the present research, discussed in depth throughout the thesis. To establish a context for the literature review, it is essential to include;

1. A thorough explanation of the specific purpose of the proposed case study.

2. Discussion on the existing models and frameworks used to selection of product development projects.

3. Indicating the scope of work that is presented in the literature review chapter.

The literature review’s primary objective is to survey previous studies on portfolio management based on the models and frameworks currently employed for the selection of new products.

Denscombe (2003) argues that this step is imperative to scope out the critical data collection requirements needed for primary research. It also aids in developing the emergent research design process. Easterby-Smith et al. (2002) agree that this method familiarises existing literature before collecting preliminary data.

Familiarisation of previous literature serves three purposes for the proposed study;1. It provides the researcher with guidelines regarding developing data collection tools and hinders the risk of overloading oneself at primary data collection stages.

2. Comprehending the results from existing academic literature using a formal review to maintain the current study’s sense of perspective.

3. The chapter increases the opportunity for understanding the critical analysis of the actual meaning of data collected with the current study reaches the stage of analysing data.

The literature review uses a wide variety of secondary data references as bibliographic tools for identifying relevant literature for review. The academic domain of portfolio management, project management, risk management, life cycle analysis, and other sects of business studies will be searched to find relevant literature. It is required that a majority of the publications selected take the form of research papers. Using the model of systematic literature review, key publications will be identified and examined. For the current study, it is proposed that the literature review be thematically analysed, allowing the researcher to group relevant material.

Portfolio Management

The proposed study aims to contribute to the research in project portfolio management. However, it focuses on engineering organisations and new product development. Therefore, it is essential to review project portfolio management theories and models.

Tidd and Bessant (2013) argue that companies that develop new and existing products need a framework that can help them judge which projects should be undertaken to achieve their strategic view. Cooper et al. (2001) developed three main reasons that see an advantage in using a managerial process to view projects.

He stated that it is crucial to have the ability to select suitable projects that will become successful products tomorrow. Secondly, Cooper et al. (2001) argued that projects are manifestations of the business’s strategy, and the wrong project or mix of them may result in a failed implementation of the strategy.

Lastly, the process is needed because development resources that are invested are limited. Using them for the wrong projects over the good ones will deprive the company of its crucial resources.

Project Portfolio Selection Process

Literature analysis portrays that selecting projects and optimising the portfolio that best suits the organisation’s strategic priorities is imperative. PMI (2006) and Cooper et al. (2001) defines project portfolio selection as a dynamic process whereby a business’s list of active projects is constantly updated, revised; within the process, new projects are evaluated, selected, and prioritised; existing projects may become accelerated, killed or demoted and resources are allocated and reallocated to active projects.

Scholars and practitioners like Dye and Pennypacker (1999), Sommer (1999), Cooper et al. (2001) have reiterated that the decision making, prioritisation, and reprioritisation, strategic alignment and realignment, allocation and reallocation of resources are the ongoing process of project portfolio management.

The same researchers argued that cooperative efforts made to select the right mix of projects require considering internal capabilities and external possibilities.

The academic literature in project portfolio management has discussed in great length the requirements that a project portfolio needs to meet to achieve the corporate strategy. Research such as Gashemasadeh et al. (1999); Sommer (1999); Radulescul and Radulescu (2001); Cooper et al. (2001); Yelin (2005); and Better and Glover (2006) express standard essential requirements including;

1. Project portfolio needs to align with corporate strategy as it needs to contribute to implementing the strategy.

2. Maximising the organisation’s value since any organisation’s resources are limited, making it the business’s goal to use resources effectively to achieve the maximum value of the project portfolio.

3. the project portfolio must have balancing elements. This means that the organisation can choose a project balancing risks and returns, long-term and short-term benefits, time for completion, and competitive impacts.

Levine (2005) contributed to the existing literature by adding requirements for the project selection process, which includes;

1. Making sure that the selected project is appropriate to the organisation’s values and culture.

2. The project can directly or indirectly contribute to cash flow.

3. The project selected can efficiently use its resources, including the capital, human resources, and physical resources.

4. Projects contribute to the short-term business and the long-term development of the organisation.

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Research Design

The current study proposes to use a qualitative research approach to investigate the frameworks/models used in selecting projects for new product development. Qualitative research is a broad umbrella term that is used to describe a variety of techniques and philosophies.

Hennink et al. (2010) define it as an approach that allows researchers to examine the experiences of people in detail using a specific set of research methods such as discussions, observations, focus groups, interviews, content analysis, visual methods, and life histories.

However, the research approach is not limited to just applying qualitative methods. The current study also proposes the use of an interpretive approach to guide the development of research design.

Denzin and Lincoln (2008) argue that qualitative research involves an interpretive or naturalistic approach to the world, which means researchers need to study phenomena in their natural setting to try and make sense of or interpret it in terms of the meaning individuals bring to them.

Based on the research question stated previously and the objectives that have been outlined, the qualitative approach is bested suited for the current study.

Stemming from the qualitative research approach, the current study will take a case study design. The primary reason for this is access to information and participants, limited to the researcher’s workplace.

Hence the reason the current research will be designed as a case study. Siggelkow (2007) argues that a single case study analysis can be a powerful example and fill in gaps in existing theories.

Also, Roshan and Deeptee (2009) argue that case studies help study rare or complex phenomena. The current study is looking to research a complex phenomenon in the process of selecting new projects in engineering companies.

Primary Research

The proposed study needs to rely on primary and secondary research to achieve its aim and objectives. That is why for primary research, an engineering company will be selected to conduct interviews with project managers and R&D executives.

The proposed study chose a qualitative design in constructing the study. Creswell (2013) argues that a particular strength of qualitative research is that it allows one to explore issues in-depth in an unstructured manner. The research instrument that will be used to collect primary data is semi-structured interviews.

Secondary Research

To construct a solid study, it is essential to examine previously published literature about the topic. For this reason, a systematic literature review will be conducted that gathers and analyses available data present. Using electronic databases such as Emerald Insight, Elsevier, Springer, and Google Scholar, peer-reviewed articles will be searched for appropriate for the proposed study.

These searches will then go through rigorous selection using inclusion and exclusion criteria to be analyzed and placed in the literature review. It is essential to examine literature that analyses the current frameworks and methods available for selecting a project, especially for those in the engineering industry.

Foreseen Limitations

Specific circumstances are quite understandable in conducting research. One of the foreseen limitations associated with the current study is a limited amount of time. The research will have to be undertaken in a concentrated time. This would be mean that the sampling strategy will use a small sample to conduct research.

The smaller sample size will limit the amount of data obtained for the current study. However, even a small data sample can hold great importance with the case study method.

It will provide detailed and in-depth insight into the models used to select projects for new product development. Another critical limitation that is foreseen is access to data. The current study can only access data from respondents within the company that the researcher is employed with. Again this is due to restrictions with time and funds to access other engineering companies.

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Research Timeline

Research Timeline


Better, M. & Glover, F. 2006. Selecting Project Portfolios by Optimizing Simulations. The Engineering Economist, 51(2), 81-97.

Cooper, R.G., Cooper, R.G., Edgett, S.J., Kleinschmidt, E.J., 2001. Portfolio Management for New Products: Second Edition. MA: Perseus Publishing.
Dey, P. K. 2006. Integrated Project Evaluation and Selection Using MultipleAttribute Decision-Making Technique. International Journal of Production Economics, 103 (1), 90-103.

Dye, L. D. & Pennypacker, J. S. 2000. Project Portfolio Management and Managing Multiple Projects: Two Sides of the Same Coin? Proceedings of the Project Management Institute Annual Seminars & Symposium, September 7–16, 2000. Houston, Texas, USA

Graves, S., 2003. Models & Methods for Project Selection. London: Springer.

Grimaldi, S., Rafele, C., Gagliano, A.C., 2012. A Framework to Select Techniques Supporting Project Risk Management.
Hennink, M., Hutter, I., Bailey, A., 2010. Qualitative Research Methods. London: SAGE.

Levine, H. A. 2005. Project Portfolio Management: A Practical Guide to Selecting Projects, Managing Portfolios, and Maximizing Benefit. USA: Pfeiffer Wiley.

Luca, R., 2017. Project Portfolio Management Strategies for Effective Organizational Operations. New York: IGI Global.

Nonino, F., 2017. Project Selection Frameworks and Methodologies for Reducing Risks in Project Portfolio Management. London: SAGE.

Pennypacker, J.S. & Sepate, P. 2005. Integrating Project Portfolio Management with Project Management Practices to Deliver Competitive Advantages in Levine, H. A. (eds.) (2005) Project Portfolio Management: A practical guide to selecting projects, managing portfolios and maximizing benefit, pp. 496- 505. USA: Pfeiffer Wiley.

PMI. 2006. The standard for Portfolio Management. Newtown Square, PA: Project Management Institute.

Rădulescu1, Z. & Rădulescu, M. 2001. Project Portfolio Selection Models and Decision Support. Research Paper, National Institute for Research & Development in Informatics, Romania.

Sommer, R. J. 1999. Portfolio Management for Projects: A New Paradigm. In Dye, L.D. and Pennypacker, J.S. (eds.) (1999) Project Portfolio.

Management: Selecting and Prioritizing Projects for Competitive Advantage, pp. 55-60. West Chester, PA: Center for Business Practices.

Tidd, J., Bessant, J., 2013. Managing Innovation: Integrating Technological, Market and Organizational Change. New York: Wiley.
Wei, C.-C., Chang, H.-W., 2011. A new approach for selecting the portfolio of new product development projects. Expert Systems with Applications 38, 429–434.

Yelin, K. C. 2005. Linking Strategy and Project Portfolio Management. In Levine, H. A. (eds.) (2005) Project Portfolio Management: A practical guide to selecting projects, managing portfolios and maximizing benefit, pp. 137- 145. USA: Pfeiffer Wiley

Frequently Asked Questions

How to write a Masters dissertation proposal?


To write a Masters dissertation proposal:

  1. Choose a relevant topic.
  2. Provide context and background.
  3. State research questions and objectives.
  4. Outline the methodology.
  5. Include a literature review.
  6. Specify the significance of the study.