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writing a thesis and dissertation for my DBA. Need to chat with someone who has

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writing a thesis and dissertation for my DBA. Need to chat with someone who has experience with the process from beginning to end.
Here you go – what is in black were my initial thoughts for my concept paper, what is in red is feedback from my advisor:
Topic: Does consolidation of operations (finance, technology, human resources, procurement, contract administration, and risk management) in a multi-department taxpayer funded organization create savings or additional cost?
Methodology: Quantitative Research.
Questions:
Statement: The County of Los Angeles has 39 distinct departments (Health Services, Animal Care and Control, District Attorney, Sheriff, etc.) each with its own operations, such as finance, technology, human resources, procurement, contract administration, and risk management. These departments take direction from a central organizational unit with ultimate responsibility for the area of expertise.
1. Do you believe these areas within your organization could be consolidated into one central county-wide “Operations Department” while subject matter experts remain in the decentralized distinct (39) departments to focus in on the topic of the organization thereby creating operational cost savings?
2. Would consolidating operations into a central organization specific to the area (finance, technology, human resources, procurement, contract administration, and risk management) create cost savings but impact the organization’s ability to be responsive causing cost increases in other areas? Please explain.
3. Do you believe cost savings could be obtained by consolidating some operations centrally while having decentralized operations in other areas? Please explain.
4. Do you believe having a centralized organization that implements standardized systems would create cost savings? Please explain.
5. As a taxpayer, do you believe that your tax dollars could be better utilized through the establishment of a department that studies County operations and identifies duplicative work across the 39 departments and makes recommendations and implements workflows thereby reducing waste and taxpayer funds? Please explain.
What do I want to demonstrate? I want to demonstrate that consolidation of operations does not necessarily equate to cost savings. For example, consolidating finance operations across all 39 County departments does not create savings because funding sources may be local, state, or federal, each with its own legal requirements. Consolidating these functions into one central organization could delay the use of resources within a mandated time frame causing a social or economic impact because the funds would need to be used or returned by the date established by the funding agency. However, the consolidation of technology and human resources with a small team of subject matter experts left within an organization may equate into cost savings related to personnel and streamlining of operations.
Potential difficulties? In an organization as large as the County of Los Angeles, the review and implementation of efforts would take an exceptionally long time and could result in a failed experiment of consolidation. The “cost savings” that could be achieved may actually cost more in time delays, implementation of efforts to decrease social programs, etc.
I foresee potential difficulties with collecting information through surveys too. Employees of the County may be reluctant to provide responses due to perception of loss of employment if they do believe their area could be consolidated and savings through reducing expenses. However, responses from former retired employees and taxpayers may be more easily accessible. Their perspective would be from the point of view of additional savings would potentially “safeguard” their retirement by adding to reserves, and taxpayers may believe they would have reduced taxes.
The topic of research seems to be very interesting and is fine for me but is focuses especially on costs savings that could limit the research area. I recommend to extend it to other areas if you want.
To be more general I would suggest : Does consolidation of different public departments in the County of Los Angeles can contribute to higher efficiency and lower public expenditures ?
Or Potential consolidation of multi-department taxpayer funded organization in the County of Los Angeles ? or Can consolidation of different public departments in the County of Los Angeles be effective ?
Or Effective public financial management systems in different departments in the Country of Los Angeles.
Even if it is about LA with 39 different departments the issues with potential consolidation are quite similar in different countries around the world. It is always the same story like in any company, how to be sur that merger of different activities/services will contribute to the cost savings, higher efficiency, better services, organization and value maximization.
Public Financial Management system refers to the set of laws, rules, systems and processes used by sovereign nations, to mobilise revenue, allocate public funds, undertake public spending, account for funds and audit results.
At beginning of chapters you could analyze if there is an added value from the consolidation of departments, ie what are the current problems that potential consolidation could solve :
i. What are the double functions in different departments that potential could be reduced through merger ?
ii. If the governance in all departments efficient ?
iii. What are possible direct and indirect costs that could be reduced ?
iv. Can public procurement practices could be improved ?
v. What are the issues in terms of performance of departments and quality of services ?
vi. What are the constraints to effective public financial management in departments ?
Once you will demonstrate that there is an interest to consider consolidation based on current issues and based on good benchmarks than you can go in next chapter study to speak about it.
The possible restructuring and consolidation of different departments : it can be horizontal and vertical or through holding.
The difficulties you anticipate will certainly appear : objectivity of respondents and their independent view on potential reorganization, especially if it will probably impact them, mostly in negative way (costs reduction).
The good way to proceed would be to define your thesis through different chapters where you could analyze the potential advantages and disadvantages of a potential consolidations and reorganizations. Like any M&A for private companies, consolidation of state departments can also a success story or a failure. There are many examples you could use in public sector in world and supported with theories.
I have been involved on one similar case in EU (Croatia) where two public companies with same departments merged into one but they unfortunately have not reduced the costs (number of people etc) and they have just changed the work positions of their employees.
If you consider in your hypothesis that consolidation will not generate the cost savings it means that from the beginning you take position even without answers from respondents, even without research arguments.
This is why I would recommend the to be neutral from the beginning and your questionnaire respondents will be less subjective, more open to transformations and reorganization and more honest.
Your topic will give the possibility to go in different related topics such as leadership, transparency and accountability, levels of resources and staff capacity, internal controls and public reorganization is often influenced by many aspects of the social, political and economic environment. In private companies it is much easier to implement the changes but in public sector you know that is often limited by politics.
Chapter one work can contain the background, statement of the problem, objectives, research question, scope, significance, summary of the methodology and organization of the study.
Chapter two can discuss the current organization and issues. Further, findings from different authors of books, journals and other publications could be reviewed in this chapter.
Chapter three can deal with methodology used for the study. It can present the methodological procedures and approaches used in conducting the research. It comprises the research design, population, sampling method, and data collection methods.
Chapter four can discuss the results. It can involve the use of tables and figures to explain and understand the data collected (responses) from respondents. In this Chapter you can try tp demonstrate that there are some advantages from consolidation.
Chapter five can deals with summary, conclusion and recommendations. This section can summaries the major findings and draws conclusion base on the findings and finally recommend appropriate interventions where necessary. Probably, at end you will eb in position to say, YES there are problems, Yes consolidation can be done with such and such benefits. However there are limitations and restrictions to do it because of that and that…some benchmarks will help to show potential problems in some countries. Perhaps, you will be able to demonstrate that in LA because of that and that specificities there is no sense to consolidate but rather to reorganize some services in some hybrid consolidation model (horizontal reorganization).
You can send me draft proposal of your questionnaire and I will be happy to help to create it in order to have as many as possible of objective answers.
I hope this helps

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