Supervisor: Professor Kevin Morrell
The conventional picture of strategy is that companies should pursue ‘sustainable competitive advantage’ - to outcompete by creating a bundle of resources and capabilities that are valuable and rare and that can’t be copied or easily substituted. But in many industries now there isn’t the prospect of sustainable advantage because there are so many significant drivers of change. Instead, perhaps we are in an era of ‘temporary advantage’, where managing change is itself is a core capability. Drivers of change include COVID-19 of course, but there will be shocks caused by technologies such as: machine learning or AI, Augmented and Virtual Reality, Internet of Things, 3D printing, Blockchain. Then there are going to be huge changes to respond to Climate challenges. Given this there is a need for senior executives and Boards to be able to learn how to react to large scale changes.
The PhD project will inform our understanding of transformational strategy. Transformational strategy involves steering organizations through change – where this change is characterised by scale (many stakeholders are affected) scope (it impacts on many parts of the business) and speed (it unfolds quickly). This is not fine tuning, it is fundamental rethinking of a business and the project should help Boards of Directors with decision making in this context.
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It is not necessary to have a specific background in strategy although a keen interest in business and management is essential and this would suit someone who aspires to a career as a professional academic researcher in business and management. The research could draw on qualitative or quantitative data and in terms of context the empirical research could be based in the private, public or third sectors. Applicants from the social sciences (particularly anthropology, politics and sociology) and the humanities (particularly history and philosophy) are welcome. Strong applicants will be able to share evidence of: (i) a track record of creative, unconventional thinking, combined with (ii) an ability to complete substantial written projects to an exceptional standard. Applications from black and minority ethnic candidates are particularly welcome because these groups are under-represented both in academia and Boards of Directors.