The PhD research will be focused on examining the factors influencing outcomes for employers and employees from the use and implementation of flexible working arrangements designed to support employee work-life balance in the context of current changes to work and employment relationships. Read more Read less

Flexible working has been a central discourse in relation to employment over the past decade and has 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).

The findings, however, suggest that the extent and nature of these 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, both for individuals and organisations, in order to further develop understanding of how these relationships work.   The research will be concerned with examining the implementation of flexible working arrangements, in order to identify factors which both facilitate and impede positive outcomes for individuals and help organisations adopt approaches that yield positive outcomes.

Understanding the factors which influence the extent to which various outcomes are realised 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 particular 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.  Under these circumstances there is potential for different approaches to flexibility to be in conflict when used within the same organisation.  This responds to calls in the work-life literature to incorporate changing notions of what constitutes work and employment in studying the work-life interface (Kelliher et al, 2018; Messenger, 2017). 

Cranfield School of Management has a longstanding research record in flexible working led by Professor Kelliher. Research has been conducted in collaboration with a variety of organisations including the Government sponsored Agile Future Forum, Working Families and many employers. Research findings have been published in highly ranked academic journals, books and practitioner focused publications. Previous Cranfield research on flexible working has been used as evidence by Government to support the case for widening access to flexible working and by several policy organisations.

The successful applicant will join the Changing World of Work Group in the School of Management. The group focuses on examining the implications of the changing work context on managing people and organisations and brings together expertise in the areas of Human Resource Management, Employment Relations, Leadership, Organisational Behaviour and Gender, Diversity and Inclusion in order to explore and address these changes.  It has a strong record of delivering impactful research and working with government and employers.

Cranfield School of Management has a well-established and highly regarded doctoral programme which provides a stimulating and supportive research environment. The successful applicant will be provided with a supervisory team to assist with learning and help the candidate achieve a high standard of academic excellence.

Whilst conducting the PhD research, the successful candidate will be expected to prepare papers for publication in collaboration with Professor Clare Kelliher and other colleagues.  They will also be encouraged to present their research at relevant national and international conferences.

In addition to working on their PhD research, the successful candidate will 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 via the website and social media.  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 deadline30 Jun 2019
  • Award type(s)PhD
  • Start dateAs soon as possible
  • Duration of award3 years
  • EligibilityUK, EU, Rest of World
  • Reference numberSOM0006


Supervisor: Professor Clare Kelliher

Entry requirements

  • 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 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 given as part of the programme)

The Changing World of Work group invites applications for this scholarship from graduates with a distinguished record of academic achievement. The group is seeking 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.


Sponsored by Cranfield School of Management, this fully-funded studentship will provide a bursary of up to £15,009 (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: 

Professor Clare Kelliher
T: (0) 1234 750111 Ext: 3515

If you are eligible to apply for this studentship, please complete the online application form making sure to quote reference number SOM0006 within your application.

Applications should include a cover letter explaining how you meet the criteria and why you are interested in completing a PhD in this topic area.

Short-listed candidates will be invited for an interview and asked to complete a number assessment tests.