Applications are invited for a 3-year full-time PhD studentship focused on examining the use and implementation of flexible working arrangements designed to support employee work-life balance and specifically will investigate the factors influencing outcomes for employers and employees, in the context of contemporary changes to work and employment relationships.

Suitable applicants will have an interest in employment research and a Master's degree in Human Resource Management/Employment Relations, Organisational Behaviour, Management, or a related social science. Read more Read less

Flexible working has been a central discourse in relation to employment over the past decade and has come to the fore during the Covid-19 pandemic. Potential outcomes from flexible working have generated much interest from employers, policy makers and governments at national and regional level. Extant research has shown considerable benefits for both individuals (enhanced work-life balance, well-being, job satisfaction etc.) and organisations (enhanced performance, retention, diversity, employee commitment etc.) from allowing employees some degree of choice over their working arrangements, typically when they work, where they work and how much they work (for an overview of the evidence see for example Allen et al. 2015; De Menezes & Kelliher, 2011; Kelliher & De Menezes, 2019).  As organisations recover from the pandemic, many plan to offer greater flexibility to a wider range of staff through hybrid working, as a means of readjusting working arrangements and returning to the workplace.  Extant research, however, suggests that the extent and nature of both individual and organisational benefits is related to the way in which flexible working is implemented (Kelliher & De Menezes, 2019; Kroll et al, 2017).  

Therefore, there is a need to examine the implementation factors which influence the outcomes to further develop understanding of how these relationships work and what facilitates and impedes positive outcomes for individuals and organisations.

This is of particular importance at a time when a number of potentially opposing developments in relation to the way in which employers utilise labour have emerged.  A concern of this research therefore will be to examine the influence of a context where employers are increasingly utilising alternative approaches to flexibility, by using practices designed to increase efficiency in the utilisation of labour by matching supply and demand more closely and to allow for greater organisational agility (e.g zero-hours contracts, gig and platform work). Under these circumstances there is potential for different approaches to flexibility to be in conflict when used within the same organisation.

Whilst conducting the PhD research, the successful candidate will be expected to prepare papers for publication in high impact journals in collaboration with their supervisors. They will also be encouraged to attend and present their research at relevant national and international conferences.

In addition to working on their PhD research, the successful candidate with be expected to spend approximately one day per week supporting the work of the Changing World of Work group.  This will include activities such as assisting with research and teaching activities and development of approaches to communicating the group’s activities to external audiences.  These activities will vary over the period of the scholarship and will be planned in line with the demands of the doctoral research and the group’s needs.  

At a glance

  • Application deadline31 Oct 2021
  • Award type(s)PhD
  • Start date31 Jan 2022
  • Duration of award3 years
  • EligibilityUK, EU, Rest of World
  • Reference numberSOM0008


1st Supervisor: Professor Clare Kelliher
2nd  Supervisor: Dr Deirdre Anderson

Entry requirements

Applications are invited from graduates with a distinguished record of academic achievement.  We are looking to recruit a highly motivated and talented PhD student who has a strong desire to complete doctoral work on this topic and to achieve the highest standards of academic excellence.

Applicants should have:

  • A Master’s degree in a relevant subject such as Human Resource Management/Employment Relations, Organisational Behaviour, Management, or in a related social science. In exceptional circumstances candidates without a Masters, but with a first class or upper second bachelor’s degree may be considered.
  • An excellent command of both spoken and written English and good writing skills.
  • Evidence of intellectual curiosity, interest in and knowledge of the topic area.
  • Some knowledge and experience of research methods and approaches (Research methods training will be provided as part of the programme).

In addition to meeting the entry requirements, as part of the online application, applicants are required to submit a research proposal, outlining the particular research they would like to conduct within the context described above.

The proposal should:

  • Formulate and define a proposed research question.
  • With reference to relevant, current academic literature, demonstrate how the proposed research relates to existing knowledge in the field, highlighting its originality and significance.
  • Provide an outline methodology for the research, justifying its suitability for the proposed research question.
  • Discuss how the findings may contribute to the academic literature, policy and practice.


Sponsored by Cranfield School of Management, this fully-funded studentship will provide a stipend of £15,609 (tax free) plus course fees for three years.

Cranfield Doctoral Network

Research students at Cranfield benefit from being part of a dynamic, focused and professional study environment and all become valued members of the Cranfield Doctoral Network. This network brings together both research students and staff, providing a platform for our researchers to share ideas and collaborate in a multi-disciplinary environment. It aims to encourage an effective and vibrant research culture, founded upon the diversity of activities and knowledge. A tailored programme of seminars and events, alongside our Doctoral Researchers Core Development programme (transferable skills training), provide those studying a research degree with a wealth of social and networking opportunities.

How to apply

For further information please contact:

Name: Professor Clare Kelliher or Dr Deirdre Anderson
Email: or

If you are eligible to apply for this studentship, please complete the online application form making sure to quote reference number SOM0008 within your application.