What is the optimal range of a product line and the optimal degree of differentiation?

Task: For this assignment you will design a project proposal to apply for the R. Fellowship. To accomplish this task, you must:
• First, read the R. Fellowship call for applications carefully, and you must locate two other grants/fellowships in your field of study.
• Second, after completing step one, you must choose a topic that is current and requires additional research.
• Third, please complete thorough background research on the topic.
• Lastly, you must design a project that adds something new to the field and that has a chance to be accepted.
Description of the R. Fellowship: The R. Fellowship is a newly developed fellowship that encourages applications from university students developing current or questioning past research in their particular fields of study. The fellowship provides a living stipend for the length of the project which should be conducted over a period of two academic semesters (about one full year). The length may be slightly extended depending on the project. The topic options are open to all fields, but they should be unique to the student’s discipline. The fellowship does encourage one semester involving coursework at any university and research that is guided by a professional mentor, followed by a semester of fieldwork that is relative to the direction of study. Location choice is not specific, but it must be relevant to the topic and enhance research in a meaningful way. If responding to this fellowship opportunity, applicants are required to provide an extensive introduction, a review research regarding the chosen topic, a methodological layout of coursework and fieldwork plans, and a description of how the results will be disseminated, such as a publication in a scholarly journal or attendance at a conference. This list is not exclusive as there may be several other options that can meet the grant requirements for completion of the research. In some cases a presentation may be required.
Suggested Topic 1- Integrating Marketing and Operations Management Decisions into Service Design
When designing services (or products), integrating marketing aspects is very common. Based on data from conjoint analysis customer preferences and potential market shares can be used to optimize the service offering. During the last decade research shifted from this focus solely on marketing and started to integrate operations management decision. Based on this new approach the overall complexity of designing services can be handled more adequately.
One such approach was published by Verma et al. in 2005. The authors developed a model that integrates customer choice, production costs, and a construct called “operating difficulty” to accommodate for both the marketing and the operations perspective. In this thesis the model and underlying theory of Verma et al. should be discussed, a broader perspective on this research field be provided and latest research between 2005 and 2015 be analyzed.
Basic Literature: Verma, R., G. Thompson, W. Moore, and J. Louviere (2001): Effective Design of Products / Services: An Approach Based on Integration of Marketing and Operations Management Decisions. Decision Sciences 32 (1), 165-193.

Suggested Topic 2 – Product Line Design under Uncertainty

What is the optimal range of a product line and the optimal degree of differentiation? The existing product line design literature devotes little attention to the effect of demand uncertainty. Due to demand uncertainty, the supply-demand mismatch is inevitable which leads to different degrees of lost sales depending on the configuration of product lines. The objective of this research is to review and classify the empirical and normative literature on product line design under demand uncertainty addressing the above mentioned question and show opportunities for future research.
Basic literture: Wan, X., P. T. Evers, and M. E. Dresner (2012).Too much of a good thing: The impact of product variety on operations and sales performance. Journal of Operations Management 30(4), 316-324.

Document length and design:
Statement of the Problem (minimum 300 words)
Review of Literature (minimum 1200 words)
Methodology (minimum 750 words)
Dissemination of the Results (minimum 190 words) should all follow APA documentation and citation guidelines.

Outline for Research Proposal
I. Introduction – Statement of the problem
A. What is the problem or issue you will be addressing? What is at stake in the research? Why is it important to conduct the study now?
B. A general overview of how will you carry out the research.
C. A very general introduction of yourself and why you are qualified
II. Review of the literature/ Background and more details on research and its uniqueness
A. General background of the topic.
B. Review of current research in the field: what studies have already been done on the subject and what were the results. Review at least 4 -5 relevant studies
C. Uniqueness: The review of literature background should lead to your contribution; explain what you will add to current research or lack thereof and address what makes this project interesting, unique, and timely.
III. Methodology
A. How will you proceed in the research?
1. Base University: at what university will you base your work?
a. What courses will you take: language, theory, practical – explain what they will add to your project. I suggest at least one semester of course work.
b. Library collections at the university: important primary and secondary sources you will use
2. Discussions/study with an expert: who will be your adviser to help guide you through the project? Explain who this is and how s/he will enhance your project.
B. Field work: I suggest one semester conducting field work
1. Literature/art: examine archives, museums,
2. Science: laboratories, health centers
3. Social sciences: polls, surveys, observations, etc
C. Reasons for studying in this particular place – university, city
D. General dates of the research: be fairly specific on your proposed calendar.
IV. Results – Where and how will the results be disseminated?
A. Publications
B. Conference
C. Master’s thesis
D. Teaching
E. Work advancement

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