BSc and MSc Theses

We supervise theses in the fields of agricultural and value chain economics, governance, econometrics, and consumer behavior.

Information regarding bachelor’s and master’s theses / research projects

Currently, we are supervising bachelor’s and master’s theses as well as research projects on the following topics. Interested students can contact us by email at luisa.menapace[at]tum.de.

In the email, please, specify which topic you are interested in and attach your CV and university records. 

 

Area #1: Understanding quality and measuring preference for quality

Topic #1: What is the economic rationale for agri-food enterprises to pursue dual quality strategies within the Single Market?

‘Dual quality’ can be defined as the supply of food products in different varieties/grades without providing consumers information that are sufficient to detect and understand the differences among the varieties/grades. Dual quality occurs when “goods [are] marketed in the Single Market under the same brand or trademark but with differences in content, composition or quality in individual EU Member States” (EC 2017/C 327/01). The main concern is that “in some parts of Europe, people are sold food of lower quality than in other countries, despite the packaging and branding being identical” (President Jean-Claude Juncker's State of the Union Address 2017).

This study investigates the economic rationale for agri-food firm to produce and sell products with a different (i.e. dual) quality in different EU member countries.

Main activities: review of scientific literature; development of a conceptual framework based on industrial organization theory to illustrate the issue.

 

Area #2: Governance and quality (in developed countries)

Topic #1: Inducing honest reporting when the truth is unknown: An application to Unfair Trading Practices in business-to-business transactions

Recent work has investigated how to induce honesty when eliciting opinions from experts when there is no observable truth. Among these are scoring methods that assess the ‘honesty’ level of a response based on implications of Bayesian reasoning or on pairwise comparisons between reports of experts. An example of such methods is the Bayesian Truth Serum for subjective data published in Science in 2004. While these methods, based on complex theorems and mathematics, have been shown to work in theory, applications to real word problems are still rare.

In this project, we will apply such methods to the occurrence of Unfair Trading Practices in business-to-business transactions.

Main activities: review of scientific literature on methods to induce truthful reporting of private information; development of a questionnaire to interview experts.

 

Topic #2: Toward developing a theory of governance for the agri-food sector

Gereffi et al (2005) develop a theoretical framework to describe the governance of global value chains. They identify three factors that determine global value chain governance: (i) the complexity of information; (ii) the extent to which this information can be codified; (iii) the capabilities of actual and potential suppliers. Based on these three factors they identify three type of governance structures that are between the market and hierarchy: Modular, Relational and Captive value chains.

In this project, we will address the following questions:

·        How well do these governance forms describe value chains in the agri-food sector?

·        Are there other critical factors that determine the governance of a value chain in the agri-food sector?

Main activities: literature review and development of a conceptual framework.

Reference: Gereffi, Gary, John Humphrey, and Timothy Sturgeon. "The governance of global value chains." Review of international political economy 12.1 (2005): 78-104.

 

Topic #3: What are the impacts of Unfair Trading Practices (UTPs) on the Lake Constance apple supply chain?

The issue of Unfair Trading Practices (UTPs) in the food supply chain has assumed considerable importance within the European Union in recent years. The European Commission defined UTPs as practices that grossly deviate from good commercial conduct and are contrary to good faith and fair dealing. UTPs can exist from any side of the business-to-business (B2B) relationship and can occur at any stage of the contractual relationship: during negotiations, when the contract is performed, or can be imposed in the post-contractual phase.

This study investigates the effects of UTPs on the Lake Constance apple supply chain.

Main activities: Identification and review of relevant scientific literature; interviews and qualitative analyses; development of a conceptual framework

 

Topic #4: What qualifies food products for Geographical Indications?

In the EU, producer groups who apply for protection of a Geographical Indication (GI) need to explain the nature of the link between the geographical area of production and the quality of the product. While this seems like a simple concept, in practice it is not straightforward to understand the meaning of “quality” and which geographically-related factors are used by producer groups to substantiate the existence of “the link”.

A content analysis of the “Single Documents” can be conducted to provide insights into the following questions:

·        What is quality for GIs?

·        Which factors determine the link between quality and geography for GIs?

This analysis could provide insights that are necessary to advance research efforts concerning GIs. For example, we might discover how to rank GIs in terms of their quality requirements.

Main activities: Collection of “Single Documents” for a given group of GIs and content analysis and development of a conceptual framework.

 

Area #3: Agribusiness in developing countries

Topic #1: Value chain financing

Several cheap, innovative tools are being promoted to improve the financial inclusion of smallholder farmers in developing countries. One such tool is agricultural value chain financing. Value chain mechanisms and dynamics such as contracts with retailers, warehouse receipts and relationships between farmers and retailers are increasingly being leveraged to promote the financial inclusion of smallholders. Other potential value chain mechanisms however exist.

Similarly, the extent to which these mechanisms can promote access to financial services remains unknown. Value chain financing mechanisms are still ad-hoc processes in their nascent stages. Their acceptance by formal financial institutions is essential towards ensuring smallholders gain access to financial instruments.

This project attempts to identify all value chain financing mechanisms. The project will highlight the context and pathways through which these mechanisms can improve financial inclusion. This project will also examine how to establish value chain financing as an acceptable tool in financial lending.

Main activities: Literature review of different case studies on value chain financing to identify and classify value chain financing mechanisms. Construct a conceptual framework based on conditional process modelling. Develop a questionnaire to be administered in a household survey. Evaluate various scientific and management models for institutionalising new technologies (for example, capability maturity models, process models). Develop a questionnaire and guide for expert interviews

Topic #2: The role of cooperatives in facilitating access to high-value markets: a look at horticultural crops

Organising smallholders towards collective action have historically been successful in generating economies of scale that offsets structural production disadvantages associated with small-scale farming. These successes underline the global popularity of farmers groups and cooperatives. Contextual factors, including the type of crops cultivated by group members, determine the nature of cooperatives and their effectiveness. Compared to staple and cash crops, several issues raise the costs of establishing cooperatives for horticultural crops. Perishability and technical expertise needed to produce high-quality horticultural crops exemplify some of these issues. Identifying strategies to build and maintain successful horticultural cooperatives is central towards facilitating smallholders access to high-value markets and improving their economic situation.  This is important because the majority of smallholders in developing countries, especially women, cultivate horticultural crops.

This study answers the following research questions:

·        What are the determinants of successful cooperatives and farmers groups?

·        How does the nature of horticultural crops affect the ability of smallholders to establish successful cooperative organisations?

·        Which strategies are needed to establish and maintain effective horticultural cooperatives?

Main activities: Review of empirical literature on collective action and collective action groups. Develop a conceptual framework from the findings to be informed by collective action theory.


Some experiences from former Master Students:


Franziska Bauer - Master Student

Doing my Master´s Thesis “Monitoring of Value Chains in Fair Trade – Internal Monitoring System for a Fair Trade Marketing Organization” at the chair was a great pleasure. I have received much support by all chair members which was very helpful. This help made it feasible for me doing the Thesis with an external partner.

Even more important to me was the support in finishing Thesis, Colloquium and complete grading process in a very short time as I needed my certificate for the first professional job. Therefore I appreciate the chair for Governance in International Agribusiness.


Christine Haßauer - Master Student

During my thesis at the „Governance in International Agribusiness Chair“  I had the possibility to apply my knowledge and to improve my scientific working. I enjoyed the exchange with experienced people and learned a lot of them.

Writing my thesis there was a pleasure – I got great support and everyone was helpful and welcoming. I can highly recommend the supervision of this chair.


Daniel Kohlsdorf - Master Student

Master Thesis title (working title):

"Effects on the relationship between suppliers and retailers and the distribution of market power based on the implementation of GI certifications schemes"

I thoroughly enjoy working with the Governance in International Agribusiness Chair, as it allows me to get early insights into the transformations occurring in the food industry.

Writing the thesis at the Governance in International Agribusiness Chair is great not only because of the broad selection of research areas, but also because of the supportive staff that makes all the necessary resources readily available and is always open for questions. 


James Lawrence - Master Student

Master Thesis title:
"The effect of individual beliefs on decisions under risk across different domains"

I have improved immensely as a student by working with the Governance in International Agribusiness Chair. I have been able to use theory learned in a wide variety of classes and apply it to exciting areas of the agriculture industry. 

Writing the thesis with Professor Menapace and the rest of the staff has been a fantastic experience. All members of the Chair are helpful and above all, very competent. When things get stressful, there is always someone on hand with a possible solution and some helpful advice.