Why write a thesis-3?

Dear fellow friends researchers,

Thank you for my fist blog followers of year 2021. Hope that this year will be bring more positive impact than last year…

On a personal perspective, it should, as it cannot be worse than before, as I have been, and will always be a positive person… I just need to slow down a bit, at age 65, which is coming around the corner.

But there are so much to finish, so HOW to slow down? Well, my way is working more diligently, and more intelligently, with a good motivation in mind and heart. That’s is what has always motivated me. What about yourself?

In my previous day blog, I wrote about the motivation and choice of the topic and of the school. I chose the topic on “change management”, and the French school of thought for the reasons given. But I think there were more than JUST THAT. So I will continue to search my soul to find out more the reasons behind my choice. After all, who cares what kind of Doctorate Degree I am holding, or from which School I come from… but for me, the post-doc work has been more meaningful as I took time for the topic of my research. And, with time, I am thankful for having made that choice.

I think that some time, our choice is a result of some deep thinking, but we forget that some deep thinking is also the combination of deep learning and of other our personal life experiences.

As I am writing these lines, flashes of my different evolution period keep coming to my mind. I remembered the first day at school, accompanied by my German-speaking husband, who came to accompany to school (I was already 55 years old by that time, but still felt the excitement of the first-day at school, some four hours from home by train to this strange city called “PARIS”…).

The Seminary’s name was Largotec, that belongs to the “O.M.I” which stands for “Organisations, Markets, Institutions”. The Research Center was later rebaptised after Hannah Arendt, and as am progressing towards more conciousness on Hannah Arendt’s impact on political philosophy theories, I am all the more proud to be part of this important community.

Indeed, for a (long) while, I was not aware that my thesis was classified under “political philosophy”, although the doctor degree was issued by the Doctoral School of “Business Administration and Management”. So, in parallel to the studies linked to my discipline, I also had to treat my thesis under the angle of the social contract theories which are part of the “political philosophy” discipline.

The reason of my confusion was that all doctoral candidates had to sign up for the “Seminary of Epistemology and Research Methododoly” under the doctoral school for the core credits, and, in parallel, students have to sign up for a number of professionalising disciplines linked to pedagogy, research, curriculum development, etc. to prepare them to the teaching or research professions. U-PEC.fr being a University that regroups over 40’000 students from 7 departments, the School is huge and we do not necessary know everything about the School outside our own campus.

Indeed, my university, officially named Paris-Est Créteil University was inaugurated in 1970 as a multidisciplinary centre based principally in Créteil (Val-de-Marne, East of Paris). The university offers training in law, arts and humanities, sciences and technology, economics and development, administration and exchange, educational science, as well as social sciences. Val de Marne University is composed of seven departements and seven institutes situated in Créteil (Val-de-Marne), Seine-et-Marne, and in the 14th arrondissement of Paris.

The central councils
Within the University, two central councils are privileged open spaces for discussion about political choices and the main management decisions. They include academic members, students, administrative staff and external members. These spaces represent the place where the University’s democratic tradition is reflected; a tradition which combines numerous and closely argued debates and collective decision. These councils are also the place where the managing board can present its policy. The University’s Administrative Council includes 32 members and is the University’s policy-making body. The Academic Council is made up of the Commission for Research, composed of 41 members, and the Commission for Education and University Life, which is composed of 40 members.

Doctoral students mostly choose to stick to their own department of studies and to attend the class at different campuses. So, in my case, I only went to my own doctoral business school on weekends, as I needed to take the train from Geneva to Paris which took 3-4 hours each way. So, for a long time, we all assumed (at least I) that all went to the same School, but indeed, there were many Schools that are part of the University.

I love to visit and study at the central documentation service which is composed of 11 integrated libraries. There, I could borrow books, periodicals and CD-ROMs, which I could consult on the spot or loan for a certain period of time. I also love to consult the rich databases of the libraries. A thesis service is available as well as a library information office. Those are my sweet memories of my school days in Paris.

But my study activities were also busy with the professionaling trainings during the weekends with the Ponts-Business CIM (Cycle of International Management Training programme). We were asked to complete 150 ECTS within 18 months, and the programme was bilingual. Most of my classmates were young engineers (around 25-28 years of age), and came from the best schools of the French systems in the world (Algeria, Romania, Tunesia, Spain, Morocco, China, etc). They were the cream of French professionals who will be staying back and working in France after their graduation. I was the only Vietnamese student from Switzerland, and was the oldest. But I am really to proud to say that by the completion of the course, I got a GPA of 16.00 on 20.00, which made me REALLY proud of myself. Ha ha!

I recalled the long hours -must be hundreds of them – catching up on YouTube the whole post-war period of Vietnam, just to be able to write a 40-page summary on the ideological mutation of the Vietnamese pre-war generations and a short analysis of country transitional periods that explained the different episodes of the “Indochinese Conflict” that summarizes the big divide between the East vs. Western confrontation of the cold war period. Before I came to Europe, although I have lived my whole life within the epicentre of the Cold War, I did not even know that we were in the Cold War (!). The propaganda in both Vietnamese North and South parties had made sure that none of us on both sides interpret the war efforts in a the same way, and the misunderstanding still persists among us, even after 50 years of “peace” and “reunification”.

In my efforts to understand the “problems of contemporary Vietnam”, I not only need to understand the roots of the conflicts, as well as the missing conditions for reconciliation between the two conflicting parties, but also to understand “WHERE LIES THE TRUTH”. This point was crucial to understand the states of affairs of contemporary Vietnam, and why we did not catch up in terms of GDP even in comparison with our neighbouring countries such as Thailand, the Philippines, or Taiwan, to name a few. It was a painful period of my life, struggling both to understand where I came from, and struggling to stay as true as possible to the socio-economic and political realities of my country and reflecting it through my thesis argumentation.

Writing a thesis is not only to write what you think should be the outcome, but to follow a certain methodology of research, based on a number of management theories and other interdisciplinary studies, which made it so difficult for the doctoral candidates who lack the right foundation just as was my case. It was not only hard to discern the true stories behind so many conflicting versions of history, but it was also difficult to understand the conflicting theories, the different terminologies, as well as the contextual interpretation with text book materials and by authors or researchers who do not necessarily know the contexts in which you have lived through or experienced. Language barriers – although not in my case – could also be challenging for the thesis candidate.

The difficulty was also enhanced by the lack of reliable data and how they were collected. This will be the topic of my next sharing to my fellow researchers.

Till then, have a good day,

Anita H.

Published by Anita H.

Expert in Intercultural Communication, navigating between 4 cultures and 5 languages which I use daily for work and leisure. Author of blogs on wordpress and blogspot on SBI Training Solutions Projects: vietnamhoc, yourvietnamexpert, yourvietbooks, sbi-training.com.

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