Supervisor: Dr Andrey Pavlov


Much of the work in the field of strategy emphasizes the notion of foresight and calls for substantial analytical work to support it. This perspective conjures up an image of a team of strategists poring over sophisticated strategic management frameworks to determine what will generate value in a few years’ time and, subsequently, where an organization needs to go and how that leap must be made. Recent work, however, recognises the world as complex and dynamic and therefore questions the linear assumptions and the formulaic prescriptions of traditional strategy models.

Possible Research Areas

This PhD project will investigate approaches to pursuing organizational success where its causes are untraceable, the future is unknowable, and organizational control is prohibitively difficult. We expect that this work will draw on the complex adaptive systems literature and focus on the notions of interaction, process, emergence, non-linearity, causal ambiguity, and self-organization.

Suggested Reading

Barnett, W. and Burgelman, R. 1996. Evolutionary Perspectives on Strategy. Strategic Management Journal, 17: 5-19.

Boulton, J., Allen, P., and Bowman, C. 2015. Embracing Complexity: Strategic Perspectives for an Age of Turbulence. Oxford University Press.

Bunge, M. 2003. Emergence and Convergence: Qualitative novelty and the unity of knowledge. University of Toronto Press.

Lichtenstein, B. 2014. Generative Emergence. Oxford University Press.

MacIntosh, R. & MacLean, D. 1999. Conditioned Emergence: A Dissipated Structures Approach to Transformation. Strategic Management Journal, 20: 297-316.

Mirabeau, L. & Maguire, S. 2014. From Autonomous Strategic Behaviour to Emergent Strategy. Strategic Management Journal, 35: 1202-1229.

Tourish, D. 2019. “Is Complexity Leadership Theory Complex Enough? A critical appraisal, some modifications and suggestions for further research”. Organization Studies, 40(2): 219–238.

Candidate Profile

The best applications will demonstrate a good grasp of the relevant recent debates in the areas of Strategic Management, Organizational Change, or Complex Adaptive Systems and be able to articulate the value of the proposal for both scholarship and practice.

Contact Details

Dr Andrey Pavlov,