20 Outstanding Business Research Paper Topic Examples

Though many people regard great business leaders as born, not made, the truth is that the field has gradually been becoming more disciplined, empirical, and scientific over time. With such a vast landscape still left to explore, there are some great topics at the cutting edge that will be sure to stand apart from the trite, old rehashes.

  1. Configurable capital: How can modern production systems be made more flexible, to quickly adjust to changing market demands.
  2. Data-driven production: How can big data techniques be applied to solve old problems in industrial control?
  3. Man and (thinking) machine: What developments in artificial intelligence are ripe to partner with people to improve effectiveness and efficiency?
  4. Simulation-driven planning: How can new tools be applied to make simulations more accessible to small-scale businesses?
  5. Open options: If traditional rules of capital are relaxed to maximise the maintenance of options for a firm, should we expect those firms to maximise profits over the long run?
  6. Specialists and system thinkers: As educational systems encourage every-greater specialisation, are we losing the ability to truly apply systems thinking in learning organisations?
  7. Breaking boundaries: Many modern business models, such as those seen in the sharing economy, divest firms of traditional capital stocks. How far can this paradigm be pushed?
  8. Radical transaction costs: The logical culmination of the transaction costs model would be that all workers coordinate only temporarily to harness mega-monopolies. Is this already happening?
  9. Salary scales: Pay scales for top executives do not outstrip those of wageworkers by constant multiples across the first world. What institutional factors influence the discrepancies?
  10. Eight hours: Modern economies expect professionals to work a fixed number of hours per day. This is a holdover from the needs of capitalists in the industrial revolution. Is it time for a change?
  11. Broad but flat: The costs of control have lead to large organisations being bureaucratic, with many levels of control, and great inefficiencies. Can technology ease control and flatten out large corporate structures?
  12. Why train: If organisations are learning organisations, staff should be judged exclusively on their skills, not their knowledge. If so, we should see firms cycle staff for existing skills, and never invest in training. Do we?
  13. Vision and fit: When formulating strategy, Eastern companies focus on audacious goals; Western typically on resource availability and fit. Are these really incompatible as has been claimed?
  14. Seeking intuition: Top executives frequently claim intuition as the basis for their insights and strategies. Does it exist? Can it be trained?
  15. Context matters: The performance of firms across nations is starkly different. What are the environmental factors that cause better performance?
  16. Executive education: As the basis of economies has changed, so too has the profile of the typical executive. But are both missing the full picture, and calling for the development of a broader programme for executive education?
  17. Atypical intellectual capital: As copyright law increasingly extends to concepts over implementations, should more firms look to actively manage their intellectual capital?
  18. Disruption proof companies: New technologies can render firms obsolete. Are there any disruption-proof organisations and industries?
  19. Returns to responsibility: Champions advocate that corporate social responsibility programmes reward businesses. Does this hold up to scrutiny of the data?
  20. Diversity untested: As calls mount for increased workplace diversity, are there cases in which the firm could be expected to be disadvantaged, all other things being equal?