PhD in Strategic Management and Entrepreneurship



The Department of Strategic Management and Entrepreneurship at the Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University provides a strong research environment, with numerous faculty members and PhD students working across nearly all relevant fields of the wider strategic management field. Three characteristics make the Department an excellent environment for high-quality candidates to pursue a PhD.

• First, we pride ourselves in our excellent PhD placement record, and our graduates routinely find placements in top schools worldwide. Recent placements include INSEAD, Judge (Cambridge), Desautels (McGill), HEC Paris, ETH Zurich, Otto Besheim (WHU), and Moore (University of South Carolina). 

• Second, the department hosts specialists in a wide variety of methodological traditions, including survey and archival data analysis, longitudinal econometric analysis, meta-analysis, case studies, grounded theory, and fuzzy-set qualitative comparative analysis.

• Third, our department is well-connected internationally. It structurally hosts visiting professors, like Gerry George (SMU), and our own faculty have held visiting positions at schools like Harvard, Imperial, Kellogg, MIT, and Wharton.In short, the Department offers one of the most stimulating and productive environments for pursuing a PhD in Strategic Management and Entrepreneurship in North-western Europe.


PhD research in the Strategic Management and Entrepreneurship group at the Rotterdam School of Management is expected to take place within four main research themes that represent currently ongoing research:

1. Strategic and Corporate Entrepreneurship;

2. Strategic Renewal; 

3. Corporate Governance and Competitiveness;

4. Global Strategy.

Although research that cuts across these four themes is encouraged, candidates are expected to express and explain their preferences for one or more research themes in the cover letter of their application.


(global) strategy, (corporate) entrepreneurship, comparative corporate governance, business model innovation, family firm strategy and governance, strategy and organization.


Research theme 1: Strategic and Corporate Entrepreneurship.

The aim of this subtheme is to draw the foundations and to identify emergent opportunities for research on strategic entrepreneurship in general and on organizational ambidexterity, new business models, and accelerating organizational growth in particular. Strategic entrepreneurship, or the sensing and seizing of new opportunities, has been widely acknowledged by scholars and executives alike as an effective means of revitalizing organizations to improve performance. This research theme considers the challenges associated with strategic entrepreneurship and details important organizational and managerial features of successful organizations that are not only able to resolve paradoxical challenges but also navigate complex business environments with new business models. The research theme proposes an integration of theory and research in strategic management and entrepreneurship, as well as using multilevel approaches to generate valuable new research avenues. Most evidence about how strategic entrepreneurship can be successfully implemented is anecdotal in nature or based on cross-sectional studies that focus on alternative approaches that organizations may undertake to facilitate renewal. As such, insights into how and under what conditions organizations may reconcile conflicting demands and host exploratory and exploitative activities simultaneously are far from complete: fundamental pieces are missing. More research is therefore direly needed, as understanding strategic entrepreneurship goes back to the heart of research on strategic management, entrepreneurship and organizational ambidexterity, and provides considerable new insights into one of the most important challenges facing today’s businesses.


Research theme 2: Strategic Renewal: New Managerial Roles and Organizational Forms. 

Strategic renewal, the activities a firm undertakes to alter its path dependence, has increasingly attracted scholarly interest. Expanding world-wide competition, fragmenting markets, and emerging technologies force established firms to create new business models through new combinations of resources. On the other hand, these pressures for change are countered by short-term competitive forces that require them to maximally exploit their existing capabilities. How do firms balance these tensions? The literature has provided a wide variety of descriptions and models for these possible renewal processes. They have been variously described in the organization literature as change versus preservation, adaptation versus selection, adaptability versus alignment and exploration versus exploitation. Examined less frequently is how multiunit firms deal with these tensions over time. Moreover, most theories focus on the interaction between the firm and the environment and ignore the interactions at the intra-firm level. In this theme, we investigate journeys of strategic renewal of multiunit firms considering how and why processes of exploration and/or exploitation unfold. In doing so, we want to provide answers to the following questions: When is renewal a selection or an adaptation process? Are there generic patterns of renewal or is each renewal journey rather idiosyncratic? And what roles do TMT and MLM play in renewal journeys? Drawing on the upper echelon and middle management perspectives, this research aims to carry the literature forward by way of a multi-level study that recognizes that both the firm’s most senior executives and middle managers matter when it comes to strategic change and renewal. In examining the joint effect of the firm’s top management and middle management on strategic renewal, this research fills a major gap in the literature. Its objective is to systematically build new theory and to test it using large-scale longitudinal and cross-sectional data.


Research theme 3: Corporate Governance and Competitiveness

Corporate governance is about the ownership, decision-making, and accountability practices that modern enterprise organizations feature to develop and exploit their resources and create value for their shareholders and stakeholders. Corporate governance therefore touches the heart of modern organizational capitalism and is a key-factor explaining firm and country level differences in competitiveness. Research within this theme will focus on three research topics that are critical to understanding how corporate governance affects the strategies, competitiveness and performance of firms. First, although research has extensively addressed the performance and value consequences of a broad array of governance practices in public firms, we currently do not fully understand how these governance practices affect strategic renewal processes in these firms. Second, as the bulk of corporate governance research has been on publicly listed firms, we currently know very little about the governance of non-listed forms of enterprise organization, such as business groups, family firms, professional partnerships, cooperatives, and emerging organizational forms or business models that transcend firm boundaries and include (external) stakeholders in the value chain. Third, because of its predominant focus on the US and Europe, we currently know relatively little about how country level institutions affect the ownership and governance choices of firms, and how this in turn affects the strategies, competitiveness, and performance of firms. This stream of research will explore these three lacunae, and contribute to our understanding of corporate governance practices across mechanisms, organizational forms, business models, and national contexts.


Research theme 4: Global Strategy

Global strategy focuses on "the study of any and all aspects of the environment, organizations, institutions, systems, individuals, actions, and decisions that are a part of, or impinge on, the practice of strategy and strategic management ... in the global context.” The “global” focus of this research theme emphasizes an interest in the study of cross-border business activities and in the comparative analysis of business activities to the extent that they materialize differently in different national contexts. Furthermore, the “strategy” focus of the sub-programme references organizations’ expansive worldviews that consider foreign locations as potential financial, factor and product markets, and as sources of knowledge, learning, and competitive advantage in their own right. The research theme addresses the global aspects of central questions in strategic management: How do firms behave in a global context? How do firms differ in a global context? How do firms enter and expand in foreign markets? What is the function of the head office in a globally diversified firm? What determines success or failure in global competition? How are strategic processes affected and conditioned by cultural and institutional differences across national contexts? How do firms deal with varying institutions that characterize nations in the formulation and implementation of global strategies? Recent global and regional developments such as the rise of emerging markets, the worldwide financial and debt crises, climate change, and regional integration, have resulted in challenges to and changes of established institutions, as well as the rise of new institutions with far-reaching consequences for multinational companies and their strategies. Using a wide variety of theories, methodological designs and analytical skills, as well as a multitude of platforms, the Global Strategy sub-programme aims to address these questions and contribute to this important and vibrant field of study.


Research in the Department of Strategic Management and Entrepreneurship is deliberately multi-method. We have accumulated considerable expertise in quantitative techniques such as survey research, panel data analysis, meta-analysis, and event history modelling, as well as in qualitative techniques such as case studies, fs/QCA, and ethnographic observations. We have chosen this multi-methodic approach to enable ourselves to address the multi-faceted nature of extant phenomena in the S&E domain.

Literature references

Recent publications that are exemplary for current research in our group include: 

• Baaij, M.G. & Slangen, A.H.L. (2013). The role of headquarters-subsidiary geographic distance and strategic decisions by spatially disaggregated headquarters.  Journal of International Business Studies, 44 (9), 941-952. 

• Berchicci, L., Dowell, G. & King, A.A. (2012). Environmental Capabilities and Corporate Strategy: Exploring Acquisitions Among US Manufacturing Firms.  Strategic Management Journal, 33 (9), 1053-1071. 

• Carney, M., Gedajlovic, E.R., Heugens, P.P.M.A.R., Essen, M. van & Oosterhout, J. van (2011). Business group affiliation, performance, context, and strategy: A meta-analysis. Academy of Management Journal, 54 (3), 437-460. 

• Ellis, K. M., T. H. Reus, B. T. Lamont, and A. L. Ranft (2011). Transfer effects in large acquisitions: How size-specific experience matters. Academy of Management Journal, 54: 1261-1276.

• Jansen, J.J.P., Simsek, Z. & Cao, Q. (2012). Ambidexterity and Performance in Multi-unit Contexts: Cross-level Moderating Effects of Structural and Resource Attributes. Strategic Management Journal, 33 (11), 1286-1303. 

• Nadolska, A.M. & Barkema, H.G. (2014). Good learners:how top management team affect behavior and performance of acquisitions.  Strategic Management Journal, 35 (10), 1483-1507.

• Volberda, H.W., Weerdt, N.P. van der, Verwaal, Ernst & Stienstra, M. (2012). Contingency Fit, Institutional Fit and Firm Performance: A Meta-fit Approach to Organization Environment Relationships. Organization Science, 23 (4), 1040-1054. 

• Vrande, V.J.A. van de (2013). Balancing your technology-sourcing portfolio: How sourcing mode diversity enhances innovative performance. Strategic Management Journal, 34 (5), 610-621.

 • Wijen, F.H. (2014). Means versus ends in opaque institutional fields: Trading off compliance and achievement in sustainability standard adoption. Academy of Management Review, 39 (3), 302-323. 

Expected output

In the Strategy and Entrepreneurship group, a Ph.D. thesis will typically consist of a number of high quality papers that have either been published or that have been accepted for publication in the field’s leading journals. The Strategy and Entrepreneurship group has a strong focus on publications in the fields’ top journals. Faculty members routinely publish in journals like: Academy of Management Journal, Academy of Management Review, Strategic Management Journal, Organization Science, Journal of Management Studies, Organization Studies, and Journal of International Business Studies.


Numerous strong ties connect individual departmental researchers, the departmental research centers, and the overall department to other leading business schools globally. These ties include, but are not limited to: visiting professorships (e.g., Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania, Imperial College London, Singapore Management University), extended research visits (e.g., Harvard Business School, Kellogg School of Management, Northwestern University), PhD placements (e.g., Cambridge Judge Business School, INSEAD Fontainebleau), and co-authorships (e.g., Kelley School of Business, Indiana University and Universität Zürich). Applicants my expect to benefit significantly from these ties, and will be actively encouraged to develop their own professional networks.

Societal relevance

The Strategy and Entrepreneurship group has a strong ambition to develop and carry out research that matters to managers, practitioners, firms, and (global) society at large. The group actively encourages valorization of research findings through various research related outreach activities, such as: publications and seminars for practitioners, executive education, and the development of cases and other teaching materials that translate academic knowledge into actionable insights.

Scientific relevance

The Strategy and Entrepreneurship group not only strives to contribute to ongoing research streams in the fields of strategic management and entrepreneurship, but also has the ambition to pioneer and define new research areas in these fields.

PhD candidate profile

The ideal candidate for a PhD project in the Strategy and Entrepreneurship group holds an MPhil-degree in Research in Management or an MSc-degree in Business Administration, Business Economics, Econometrics, Sociology, Political Science, Psychology or a related discipline. He/she has a strong research orientation and has demonstrated competence in the use of diverse research methods and quantitative analytical techniques, as evidenced in an MSc thesis or other research papers (co)authored by the candidate. The candidate should also meet or exceed the generic ERIM entry criteria for GRE/GMAT scores, and have an excellent grade point average. 

Contact information

For academic questions only. For procedural questions, contact the Doctoral Office.


Monday, 15 January 2018

Supervisory Team

Pursey Heugens
Professor of Organization Theory, Development, and Change, Scientific Director ERIM, Dean of Research RSM
  • Promotor
Justin Jansen
Professor of Corporate Entrepreneurship
  • Promotor
Tom Mom
Professor of Strategic Growth and Implementation, Academic Director Executive MBA, Director Executive Programme in Strategic Management
  • Promotor
Hans van Oosterhout
Professor of Corporate Governance and Responsibility
  • Promotor
Taco Reus
Endowed Professor in Global Strategy
  • Promotor
Henk Volberda
Professor of Strategic Management & Business Policy
  • Promotor
Vareska van de Vrande
Professor of Collaborative Innovation and Business Venturing
  • Promotor