March 25th 2021

Bachelor thesis research put into practice: Tyrol's municipalities in the age of electromobility

Added value for Tyrol - the results of Michael Eiterer's bachelor's thesis attract great interest

Business Administration Online alumnus Michael Eiterer addressed the topic of electromobility in Tyrolean municipalities in his bachelor's thesis. Since there was no data on this topic so far, the primary data collection motivated him a lot to create an added value with his findings. With the support of his supervisor, Dr. Nicole Palan, Mr. Eiterer succeeded in doing so. Several publications and presentations of his findings speak for the success. How he navigated during this process, how he prepares for the presentations of his findings, and what advice he gives to bachelor/master students for their final thesis can be read in this interview.

Why did you choose this particular bachelor thesis topic? What fascinated you about it?

In our course "Fundamentals of Economics" we had to write a seminar paper, for which I picked the topic of government subsidies for electric vehicles together with a fellow student. At that time, I was working in the public administration of the city of Imst. I was in charge of the environment, energy and nature conservation committee. Furthermore, I also worked with the e5 team, which gave me a lot of insight into this topic and I already dealt with it accordingly. In addition, automobiles are a great passion of mine. Since the writing of the seminar paper was a lot of fun and the result was also impressive, I wanted to pursue it further in my bachelor thesis. I had a lot of fun linking the subsidies with the new registrations, the calculations and the resulting interconnected thinking. I was able to combine my professional activities in the municipal sector with my passion and hence I knew which fields of investigation were also interesting in practice. A great incentive was the primary data collection in this field. Until then, there was no collected data or a general data pool on the nature of electromobility in Tyrolean municipalities, although this topic has become increasingly important, especially in recent years. To be the first to conduct an investigation in this environment was especially motivating.

How can you summarize the overall result of your work in a few sentences?

The survey was very comprehensive, which allowed us to draw many conclusions and insights. Overall, the survey confirms the fact that Tyrolean municipalities are already on the right track and are setting an important course to achieve climate and energy targets. For example, a quarter of the municipal vehicle fleet in Tyrol is already electrified. However, there are still fields with a lot of research potential that should be taken up in the coming period.

Were there any difficulties during your elaboration process? Did the current pandemic influence the process in any way?

In general, no major difficulties came up during the process. During the literature research, it happened from time to time that I got lost in details due to the large volume of the survey, which often cost a lot of time. Since I divided the research over a longer period of time, it was sometimes difficult to keep track of everything. The pandemic affected my drafting process in that I had actually scheduled the survey for April 2020, but I knew from my own experience that the communities had more important things to do during that time and I would have to expect few responses. Therefore, I postponed the survey by a few months to summer 2020. Of course, I was also affected by the closure of the university and the libraries due to the pandemic, which also cost some time, since, for example, borrowing relevant literature was not always possible. However, due to the later timing of the survey, I was also able to include an important question regarding e-mobility and Covid-19, as it became apparent that municipalities were facing large losses due to the pandemic, especially in the area of municipal taxes and tax revenue shares. This also made it possible to ask whether e-mobility would be put on hold in the municipalities due to the expected loss of revenue. Fortunately, this is not the focus of more than 80% of the municipalities.

What did you learn for yourself during this process? What would you perhaps do differently now in retrospect?

Especially at the beginning of the work, I had to learn how important it is to have the appropriate continuity. In the beginning, I always worked in various sections, between which a certain amount of time passed. As a result, I often had to re-read or recall the knowledge I had already gained, which of course meant a corresponding increase in workload. Therefore, a good planning as well as division are very important. It should really be considered to make the work packages smaller, but to distribute them at regular intervals.

For me, a structured organization of the literature was also very important. I always marked the important parts, especially with booklet notes, and already thought about which parts of the rough concept I could incorporate this literature into. Due to the large number of sources, however, I then also recorded this in writing or on the binder notes.

Throughout the entire work process, a structured preparation and organization of the work has proven itself. I can only give this advice to anyone who, like me, occasionally has the tendency to juggle time and plans a bit.

How did it feel for you when your work attracted a lot of interest?

Since I was also professionally active in the areas of my bachelor thesis, I knew that this study could be of interest, but I never thought that the results would meet such great interest and that they would also be published several times. Of course, I was very pleased about this and also proud of my achievement. The hard work of the past years and months had paid off accordingly. However, the most rewarding part was knowing that I had also been able to add value with my bachelor thesis and that the efforts were not a one-time story, but rather a cornerstone for further research. Of course, it fills you with pride when you open a journal and read your name under an article.

How does it feel to present the results of your work? How did you prepare for such talks?

Depending on who the audience of my presentation was, I focused on the different areas in my preparations. If my target group was more anchored in the financial sector, I tried to focus on the economic findings or in the case of interested parties from the ecological sector, on the results concerning the environment and the use of resources.

In such presentations, it is important to know your work and results down to the smallest detail. After all, you are usually talking to experts who will also ask you detailed questions, which you should address as much as possible.

What advice would you give to students who want to achieve/impact something with their bachelor thesis or master thesis?

The most important thing is the choice of topic. Even if it may sound like a cliché, the topic of the thesis should be something you are enthusiastic about. The results of the work should first and foremost benefit you, and not be too focused on the added value for others. I was in the fortunate position that I was personally interested in the topic and therefore already had some prior knowledge. If you are enthusiastic about it yourself and see the work as your personal project, and not just as a tedious conclusion, you can then convey this to other people correspondingly. There is always a group of interested people, no matter in which subject area you are. The important point is simply that you are passionate for your work.

However, it must also be mentioned that a lot depends on the person supervising the bachelor thesis. I had excellent support from Dr. Nicole Palan, who was and still is helpful with presentations and the like, even beyond the actual bachelor thesis.

Could you imagine doing further research on this topic in a master's program?

I would actually appreciate it very much if I could expand my bachelor's thesis. There are so many side areas that I could only touch on in the scope of the bachelor's degree, but which would be of great interest and hold a lot of potential for new insights. But it would also be very interesting to do the same survey again in a few years to know the further development of e-mobility in Tyrolean municipalities.

We thank Mr. Eiterer for the exciting interview and wish him all the best for his future.