Kevin O’Gorman is Professor of Management and Business History and Head of Business Management in the School of Languages and Management in Heriot-Watt University, Edinburgh. He trained in Glasgow, Salamanca and Rome as a philosopher, theologian and historian. His research interests have a dual focus: Origins, history and cultural practices of hospitality, and philosophical, ethical and cultural underpinnings of contemporary management practices. Using a wide range of methodological approaches he has published over 80 journal articles, books, chapters, and conference papers in business and management.

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The following table offers a suggested structure and approximate word count for a dissertation. This is designed to be altered according to the needs of the researcher, and the stipulations of their supervisor and institution. It is important to understand that the table is offered here only as a set of non-specific suggestions for your (hopefully!) very specific project. All dissertations are different, and your supervisor is the best person to talk to about your specific institutional, school, or college requirements, which may vary quite significantly.

Creating your own outline through discussion with your supervisor gives you both a sense of where you are in the process and what needs to be done, whilst also functioning as a reference point when completing smaller intermediary targets. The examples below illustrate a general principle of successful research espoused by this book: a larger project becomes much more manageable when broken down into smaller, clearly defined sections.


Word Count
Introduction 1500
Pre-theoretic overview 500
Why this is interesting? 100
Research Purpose 600
Aim and Objectives 300
Literature Review 3000
Historical Overview (of Theory) 500
Contemporary Review of Theory 1500
Context for Study 1000
Methodology 2000
Philosophy 500
Data Collection Technique 600
Sourcing and Selecting Data 200
Research Ethics 200
Data Analysis Tool(s) 500
Empirical Material 2000
Presentation of Data 500
Analysis 1000
Findings 500
Discussion 2000
Discussion 1800
Theory Development 200
Conclusion 1500
Reviewing the Aim and Objectives 300
Contribution – Theory 300
Contribution – Context
Contribution – Method
Contribution – Management Practice
Methodological Review 300
Limitations and Further Research 300
Overall Conclusion 300
Total 12000-14000
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