This collection includes Honours research theses conducted by GBS students within the last two years (2017-2018). For full-text access please, contact research[at]gbsge.com.
Analysis of the tax planning in multinational corporations and the European Commission’s Action Plan on Corporate Taxation
Author: Mykyta Krushelnytskyi
Abstract: This thesis is explaining tax minimization strategies. Transnational companies use them and what rules and actions national governments do to address aggressive tax planning. Theories and relevant literature are used to describe and validate the use of these strategies of multinational companies. Some measures have been taken to mitigate the practice of using any of the existing rules. The future development looks promising, as more and more countries are involved.
Our task was to understand, explain and summarize the ways of transnational companies can minimize the tax burden on them. In this article we look at the world’s tax authorities countermeasures to take to reduce the amount of tax manipulation, our question is to understand if these measures are enough to deal with tax evasion and after to outline the possible recommendations.
Research into the Sustainability Paradigm for NGOs in the Social Sector
Author: Chrisanna Franzo
Abstract: In the European Union alone, nine million full-time employees work in the non-profit sector, representing the 7.9 percent of salaried employment. Nevertheless, the sector lacks an appropriate legal and financial framework to sustain its growth and economic importance. This thesis aims to financially analyze the non-profit sector through the ranking of the top 100 organizations worldwide. Using the methodology developed by NGO Advisor and the Business Model Canvas, the economic models employed by the NGOs are established. The problem of donorship is then determined before presenting a case study on a successfully used method of alternative finance. Finally, some suggestions for improvements to the existing fiscal and financial models are put forward as an incentive for policymakers to contribute to the establishment of the social sector.
The non-profit sector is of concrete benefit to society, directly and indirectly. It helps the welfare systems to carry out social services efficiently, cover the gap between supply and need, and create additional jobs. To effectively monitor and evaluate its worth, guidelines and criteria for comparison have to be established.
The financial analysis of the sector will provide the right framework to answer the first hypothesis; however, this one will be ultimately rejected. Furthermore, this thesis found out that non-profit organizations distinguish themselves by their funding source and their value-adding strategy. The earned-income model appears to represent the future of the sector, as discussed through an evaluation of the world most farsighted organization, BRAC. This conjecture will help this paper answer to the second hypothesis formulated in Chapter 1.
In conclusion, recommendations will be made to improve the financial regulations and the accounting methods currently used by the sector.
Corporate Scandals: The Aftermath and Future Prospects
Author: Koen Bosscher
Abstract: Over the past couple of years, the world has seen a high number of corporate crises. Consequently, regulation has been reviewed and tightened, with the enactment of the SOX and Dodd-Frank Act, among others, as an attempt to fight the problem of corporate misbehavior. However, a recent study showed that the number of CEOs that resigned due to unethical behavior of any sort increased over the last couple of years. This paper examines the environment around corporate crises of any kind by reviewing regulatory revolutions, the involvement of human behavior and cognitive errors. The effectiveness of regulation, trust, and consumer- as well as investor behavior is tested.
Evidence supports that regulation has mostly evolved in terms of transparency, but that it is not flawless. Also, regulation tends to be ineffective in terms of crisis prevention, but there is a need for a different perspective of effectiveness, as, in all fairness, regulation should be seen as law enforcement but lacking the power to prevent crises as this lies most of the times with the executives and their decisions. Hence, the human side of things deserves more attention as it is much more involved than one would think. Despite partial truth in the EMT, evidence shows that the market is, to a high extent, driven by human behavior, therefore reinforcing the Adaptive Market Theory. Greed and cognitive errors can cause irrational behavior affecting the decision-making process. Because of that, other external factors than just regulation alone should work hand-in-hand in order to fight the problem of corporate crises. Human behavior can be influenced by both parties, starting with companies integrating an effective corporate culture and respecting CSR principles, but also the public and investors by following SRI principles.
Evidence from the field provides a number of findings and insights. First of all, the financial environment in specific is significantly less trusted compared to the overall corporate environment. Moreover, despite a slight mistrust in the financial environment, the overall corporate environment is still trusted. Looking at regulation, efforts are in general appreciated, but more work is to be done. This is also visible within the perspective of future prospects, as the regulatory effectiveness in crisis prevention is perceived as pessimistic. Moreover, with a constantly changing environment (e.g. blockchain technology), the vast majority perceives it as unlikely that regulation can prevent crises from occurring. Despite the importance of performance, ethicalness is slightly more valued but a balance between the two needs to be found. Corporate culture & values as well as human psychology are perceived as the most influenceable factors in the fight against corporate scandals and are actionable in the seek for effective remedies.
Consumer behavior and trust differ substantially across profiles, including variables such as gender, age, average wage, etc. For Swiss residents, in particular, negative media reports and vague descriptions on products and services are the main reasons to withdraw their funds at a bank. For the open public, poor CG and CSR are the main reason to stop customers from buying products and services or for investors to sell their shares. This confirms the essence of ESG and SRI principles nowadays, that need to be adopted by both corporations and investors.
Is there potential to introduce a ¨Halal¨ concept offer into the Barcelona Market?
Author: Bouchra El-Khadri
Abstract: The terms Muslim and Islam are today familiar words for the global society,
although in recent years there is a stigma associated with both. The Muslim community is widespread. Europe today accounts for approximately 2.7% of the total Muslim population, which represents approximately 43.5 million of the just over 1.6 billion Muslims worldwide (Fact Tank, Pew Research Center, 2017). France, Germany and the United Kingdom are the European nations with the highest ratio of Muslims, and even so, they remain minority communities. With the historical link between the Kingdom of Spain and the Islam world, Spain is placed in 7th place, behind Italy, Bulgaria and the Netherlands.
Bearing the above in mind, it seems rather obvious the potential of addressing the needs/desires of the Muslim community in terms of edibles, fashion, schooling, travel, pharmaceuticals, banking, insurance through the use of permissible raw materials, manufacturing methodology and ethical code of conduct, within others. Today, some of these needs are addressed by family-run SMEs, mainly owned or run by Muslim families, whilst large Spanish and Catalonian corporations, transnationals, etc., do not focus on this domestic potential market niche, but address the “halal” concept and certification to facilitate their penetration into foreign Muslim markets. Reading the above one would believe there is a great potential – or that was the initial belief that directed us towards the topic and focus of the thesis – yet the conclusions are rather surprising, as some of the initial barriers identified outweigh the initial advantages which were based upon the local Muslim community in Barcelona, and more specifically within El Raval neighborhood.
The objective of this study is to analyse the Barcelona market through its present offer of “halal” (permissible foods and goods as indicated by the Islamic faith) products and services, by carrying out different research procedures, such as literature review, market analysis, fieldwork, interviews and surveys, to establish and portray an objective picture of the Barcelona market identifying the opportunities and threats which this market presently represents and how to address them.
It would be naïve to deny that we were not aware of the negative connotations which the terms Islam and Muslim sadly enjoy in the lower levels of the civil society, but were surprised to discover the patent lack of awareness and an absence of any knowledge regarding Islam as a religion and Muslim as an individual. We addressed this question first as this would be a clear indicator as to their awareness and understanding of Muslim permissible goods and services so as to be aware of the depth or extent of this rather bias interpretation. Research showed that, from a civil perspective, a clear hatred towards a community which is linked directly to terrorism (increase in Islamophobia) was the most common answer when asking for a definition of Muslim, whilst the term Islam was associated to a country as opposed to the faith of the Muslims. Further questioning simply corroborated what we already knew: Lack of awareness of the Islamic culture and subsequently the meaning of “halal”.
From a business angle, it was disturbing to discover that key players in the business community, such as the Barcelona chamber of commerce were unaware of the term Halal and its implications. But on the positive side, Catalan (and Spanish) companies are slowly incorporating the halal certification to some of their products. They all acknowledge that the certification has been or is key to their international expansion, yet none of them are addressing the potential domestic market. We question whether it is because it is fragmented yet integrated within a larger consumer demand pattern, or simply that companies do not want their names or brands linked to the Muslim culture. Unfortunately, we were unable to formulate this question.
As a result of the research carried out, we discover that, even if the “halal” market has great potential, and in some nations, the concept is readily available, there is a relatively small demand by the Muslim community, whom, taking El Raval as our sample population, are mainly on a “subsistence economy”, thus cannot afford to pay two to three times more for a product with a Halal certification. The other factor identified is that there is not one single store which displays to the public a halal guarantee (certification). Today, the Muslim consumer has no alternative but to rely on and trust the word of their butcher, grocery store, etc. If we opt to open up the “halal” concept to non-Muslims, we discover that the association between Islam, Muslim, and Halal drastically reduces the attractiveness and potential. On the other hand, by eliminating the word halal and saying it is an environmentally friendly product, quality guaranteed, produced by a socially responsible enterprise and that it is a “vegan” or “vegetarian” product, interest is automatically generated, opening doors which otherwise would, to our understanding, have remained closed.
Most of the Muslim who purchase “halal” products purchase these on the trust they have with the shopkeeper since none of the products available enjoy a halal certification, which guarantees that this product complies not only to national quality control standards but is also a permissible product for consumption or use. Another surprising fact was the many Muslims wish to maintain their faith but also, have a desire to better or more effective social integration into the multicultural Barcelona society, and per-se have opted to be less “strict” when it comes to Islamic lifestyle practices. Lack of awareness and a more flexible approach, both by the business community and the consumer market (Muslim and other faiths) is a key issue should we wish to exploit the brand “halal” products, whilst, the potential integration of Halal products using terms such as “socially responsible” “ethical”, “no animal/pork ingredients”, or even “vegetarian” or “vegan” open doors which otherwise, through the use of the term “halal” would continue to be closed.
Information Management Data Protection and Privacy Concerns
Author: Mata Touré
Abstract: This thesis investigates the various issues regarding Internet users’ privacy
concerns. This topic is relevant because it is an increasingly unavoidable aspect of this digital era. The usage of the Internet is crucial in order to stay connected and with increasing connectivity comes a myriad of issues. The theoretical and empirical studies related to privacy are presented and reviewed in order to link these studies to the primary research that was conducted. Experts in different fields were interviewed to provide valuable input on the issue of data protection and respondents were presented with a survey assessing their opinions on data protection. The survey results indicate that the majority of users are not aware of the options available to them regarding the steps they can take to protect their personal data. The findings are significant as they provide a basis for the viability of a paid Internet system that would protect users’ personal data.
The Alternative Financial Marketplace (Business plan for an alternative financial mechanism in Barcelona, based upon the theories of Islamic Finance)
Author: Muad El Jay Ibrahim
Abstract: The present investigation is a briefed proposal of a business plan in order to offer alternative financing and investment to that of conventional financing, taking into account the principles and applications of Islamic Finance. After analyzing different key literature, we detected that Islamic Finance is a very attractive industry, showing promising growth, solidity and performance. Although Islamic finance has little presence in Spain in comparison to that of other, European countries such as UK, and Luxembourg, it has immense potential and has attracted the attention of key players in the Spanish financial industry.
It is relevant for any economy and market to have alternatives, and banking should not be the exception. For centuries, the banking industry has been based upon interests, which is condemned by the most followed faiths, which either knowingly or unknowingly they are violating their principles. The investigation is relevant for banks due to their low profitability caused by the negative and near-zero interest rates, being a sane alternative for banks as investors, being independent of interests. For society, it has a positive impact due to the moral, social and ethical standards as well as the promotion of transparency and the prohibition of excessive ambiguity.
Throughout the research we discovered that Spain’s economy is recovering from the crisis, is now stable with a positive outlook. The financial entities in the country shrunk significantly from 50 to 12 entities. Barcelona accounts for 14.01% of the financial market. Results of the surveys showed that: banks are having very low profitability from funds and deposits, as well as have a nascent need to innovate and digitalize. As for the users, there is willingness to try alternative modes of financing that have a high level of advisory and transparency and low level of bureaucracy, 40% of users also believe that the weak point of banks is their reliance upon interests and 22% do not engage in financing due to religious/cultural reasons. The product was designed, so it complies with the needs detected throughout the research, having a sound business model and a promising financial outlook. BMM is expected to hold under management over EUR 870 million and over 8 million in equity.
Teaching methods at Geneva Business School Barcelona: Student perceptions and preferences
Author: Rosanna West
Abstract: The following research study was conducted at Geneva Business School Barcelona and investigates the research question: Does any relationship exist between student profiles (sex, age, cultural background and motivation for learning) and (a) perceptions of/preferences for different teaching methods, or (b) student performance? This was done through the issuance of a specially designed survey to 100 students at GBS, in five bachelor classes and three master classes.
The research is important because there is a noticeable gap in the literature with regard to student perceptions of teaching methods in the sphere of higher education, and this study, therefore, contributes to the closing of that gap. By understanding better how students perceive the instructional methods undertaken in the GBS classroom and exploring any potential relationship with student profile traits, the school (the Academics team, the faculty, the company directors, etc.) can develop the school’s pedagogical approach in a direction that is aligned with what the students – who indeed, in this case, are also the business’ customers – respond well to and seem to prefer. As a result, the implications of the research are not just relevant from an academic perspective; they are also relevant from the business perspective.
The results offer GBS something to think about with regard to how it can match instruction with its students and their potential preferences for teaching methods. The main findings are: 1) Gender differences: Female students in the study ranked teaching methods more positively than the male students across the board, and they also scored higher in every class, which actually bucks the trend in the business school arena. 2) Career motivation: There was a significant difference in grades between those who selected the “to prepare me for my future career” learning motivation option and those who selected one of the other motivations. Additionally, in the regression analysis of collected data, there was a significant positive relationship between students motivated by wanting to prepare for their future career and 14 out of the 15 measures for teaching method perceptions found in the survey. 3) Cultural background: A potential impact of cultural background on the dependent variables of teaching method perceptions and grades was detected; by applying Hofstede’s power distance cultural dimension to our sample, a significant relationship with the utility measure of four of the five different teaching methods explored in the analysis emerged (“Compare countries – Hofstede Insights,” n.d.). It was found that students from countries with a bigger power distance – in other words where society is more hierarchical – actually found the majority of methods more useful than students from countries with a smaller power distance. However, on all three counts – in particular, no.3 – further research is required to render the findings more reliable and to explore possible reasons behind them.
“Hey, Teacher, leave us kids alone!” The impact of Venture Capitalists involvement on the performance of the portfolio firms. A comparative study of Italy and the United Kingdom.
Author: Lorenzo Congiu
Abstract: This thesis investigated the role of Venture Capitalists in the post-investment phase, in particular how they can impact the performance of the portfolio firms through their involvement in the management of the venture. The study combines theories about the degree of involvement and nature of involvement, distinguishing between two different attitudes, namely a focus on support activities and focus on monitor & control post-investment activities. The research has been developed using both qualitative analysis, through six interviews with professional investors, and quantitative analysis, by designing and delivering an online survey to a hundred of Venture Capitalists, adopting statistical regression models capable of estimating the existing correlation between the degree and nature of involvement and the performance measures of portfolio firms.
This research is a comparative study, it firstly assesses the impact of involvement on performance in two different countries, the United Kingdom and Italy, and finally, a comparison between these two institutional environments is proposed. Using statistical analysis, this thesis found that, investors in the United Kingdom are more actively involved in post-investment activities than Italian Venture Capitalists. Furthermore, in the UK they maintain a great balance between focus on support and focus on monitor & control, obtaining a positive impact of involvement on performance measures from both attitudes, although a focus on monitor & control yields better performance. On the other hand, in the Italian context, the overall impact of involvement on performance measures is negative, and the focus on support generates better performance compared to a focus on monitoring & control. The relevance of this thesis is due to the innovative approach, by combining theories about both degree of involvement and nature of involvement, and to the theoretical and practical implications of my research for the Venture Capital industry in general and especially in the United Kingdom and Italy.
Online education in Europe: problems and ways to solve them.
Author: Maria Gerashchenko
Abstract: In this paper, I have analysed the problems that the European online programs graduates face and the reasons why the European job market is not ready to accept the online diploma as an equal to the traditional one.
The research was conducted using the following data collection methods: survey, interview, and secondary source analysis. The research has shown that the European online education is less developed and effective than an American one. Moreover, the MOOC systems are not that popular in Europe, and students prefer open universities. The employers in Europe do not recognize online education as equal to the traditional one for the following reasons:
– Lack of experience in this sphere (developed slower than in the USA)
– The USA programs are not accepted because of the lack of the united system (See 4.5)
– No register and ranking of the programs
– The European specialists see online courses as a profitable American business model (See 4.5.1)
– Difficulty to assess the results of online education
Students are also skeptical of getting an education online (they are cautious and prefer the mixed programs to the distance ones; the master and additional education forms to bachelor). They face significant problems in finding a job. In order to be able to meet all the requirement of the online programs students and increase their employment, the following steps should be taken:
– Active cooperation with the Universities (European and American) in order to be able to convert the results of the online programs into the ECTS.
– To create a united system of ranking of the online courses. The corresponding standards will also be borrowed: classification and ranking of educational centres.
– Train the HR to make them be aware of all the new programs, their credibility and teach them about the existing (American) ranking systems
– Replicate the EdX experience (this system is one of the most developed ones and provides the students with courses of high quality and has numerous free courses).
– Use of mixed models which are preferred by European students.
– Conduct all-inclusive research on the existing online programs, their business models and the benefits for students
– Teach young people how to choose online programs. Today at
schools children are mostly explained about the traditional universities, but not about the benefits the online education gives.
– Cooperation with employers.
The Impact of social media on consumers buying behavior in Azerbaijan
Author: Tofig Hajiyev
Abstract: On a daily basis in present-day, we tweet 456.000 times, post 46.740 Instagram photos, make 3.6 million Google searches, publish 600 new page edits on Wikipedia, watch 4.14 million videos on YouTube, send 103.447.520 spam emails, order 45.787 Uber trips, and add 13 new songs on Spotify in each minute (Tom H., 2017). The improvement of social media platforms has created a new opportunity which rests a new grid of personal connections. Businesses find out vast opportunities and attempt to integrate into the trend, whereas due to social media, consumers are put back to the center in the business world. Several studies that explain reasons to use and integrate social media to reach business objectives, and to assist a business organization to get a better position in the competition; yet a few research studies are done to understand the relationship between social media and consumer buying behavior in Azerbaijan. It is usual that consumers and marketers feel differently, for example, what “brand engagement” via social media looks like to consumers may not be quite what marketers think (Sniderman, 2012).
The main objective of the research is to define why, when, and how social media platforms influence consumer buying behavior. The theoretical framework of the research will stand on the literature of the consumer decision-making process, social media, as well as previous studies relating to social media and digital marketing. Qualitative and quantitative research methods such as surveys and focus group interviews with managers of hospitality companies are selected for the purpose of this research. The empirical data will be gathered by sending out a questionnaire to individuals in Baku, Azerbaijan. According to the results, it is observed that the impact of social media networks is relatively high on the decision-making process of consumers. On the other hand, numerous individuals do not trust the online reviews, rating, and comments based on the service industry. Consequently, it is concluded that hospitality management companies could not affect this type of consumers on the virtual sphere.
Taking into account the observed results, several recommendations have been provided such as the gender inequality on social media usage and the rate of visits to restaurants and hotels, attraction of hospitality places by the point of design, the availability of fake reviews and the mistakes that hospitality companies have done on social platforms.
Fintech and how to implement it to Azerbaijan Banking Systems
Author: Tural Shukurov
Abstract: This research paper contains an analysis of the existing financial technologies, the perspectives of FinTech, its ability to integrate into the traditional financial sector and its’ applicability in the banking system of Azerbaijan. The question of the research is how and which financial technologies can be applied in Azerbaijan banks to assist them to provide the clients with better products, quick services, and stability.
The research was conducted based on both primary and secondary data.
The secondary data will be collected using different reports, magazines, newspapers, books, and websites. The primary data was collected by survey, interview, and various reports and statistics. The hypothesis of the study is that the introduction of the FinTech in banks of Azerbaijan could bring stability, minimize risks of bankruptcy and not let FinTech start-ups substitute for the traditional banks satisfying the needs of the customers on the base of mutually beneficial cooperation between banks and FinTech. Main conclusions are that, however, nowadays there are some threats of introducing FinTech is Azerbaijani banks and some barriers that do not let banks do that, still, the benefits overweight and there is some positive trend and good perspectives. The research has shown that customers are ready to use digitalized services and there is a need for quick and simple financial services and products.