Taking a closer look at thesis topics

It’s the project that spans the whole year, and it’s followed us to Barcelona: the team-based thesis project. Throughout the UVA and Lingnan terms, we have all been making continual progress on our theses on top of the other classwork we have. Suddenly, we see our thesis defense deadline coming up in just over two months (!), and we’re all gearing up for the final push. Although there are fourteen different teams that are working on a variety of different topics, here we’re giving a deeper look into two teams’ projects that are quite different, but interesting in their own rights.

Team 13 consists of two Americans and two Chinese: Sierra, Zach, Jiangshuai, and Todd. Their topic, formally titled “How Culture Affects Fandom:”

Examining the Effects of the Rise of Chinese Professional Football on European Football’s Market Share in China,” was inspired by the recent push by President Xi of China to make China a world superpower in soccer- the country plans to spend $850 billion in soccer infrastructure investment over the next decade to reach this goal. Historically, the country hasn’t performed well in international soccer competitions and its professional teams don’t reach the same level of competition as many European leagues do. Interestingly, and very possibly related to that fact, many European football clubs enjoy immense interest from hundreds of millions of fans in China. Some clubs have dedicated fan clubs established in China, and they do Chinese exhibition games that sell out quickly. On top of all of this, Chinese club owners are paying popular western players extreme amounts of money to come play in China.

Team 13 with some of the members of the focus group they conducted at Lingnan


So, with all this happening, Team 13 asked itself: “What will happen to European clubs’ market share in China if Chinese soccer reaches the same level of competition as the West? Will Chinese fans of European clubs switch their fandom to Chinese clubs? Do European teams have a strategy to grow- or retain- their market share in China in the face of this massive investment?” To uncover the answers to these questions, they planned to conduct an in-country survey of Chinese soccer fans, focus groups, and interviews with industry insiders. At Lingnan, the team released a survey to Chinese soccer fans and also conducted a focus group with some of them. In Barcelona, they hope to interview employees of FC Barcelona- one of the world’s best teams- about the subject, and finish analysis of the Chinese data in order to have plenty of time to write the thesis- and have time to enjoy spring in Barcelona, too!

Another team, consisting of Drake (American), Adrienne (Swiss), Rita (Portuguese), and Huisi (Chinese), is studying strategic agility within the global banking industry post-Financial Crisis. With four global banks chosen, including Wells Fargo, UBS, Santander, and Nomura, the thesis group is evaluating key worldwide financial events and each bank’s specific reactions on the dimensions of time, size, and ease. Their methodology mainly consists of collection of public information like press releases to interviews with stakeholders at the various institutions, which they’re carrying out now.

Adrienne, Drake, Rita, and Huisi

At the end of their thesis, they plan to identify best practices that many other banks, as well as non-financial businesses, can implement to become more strategically agile.

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