PhD in Strategic Management & Entrepreneurship

To develop world-class academics pursuing high-impact research in Strategic Management and Entrepreneurship, we have developed a doctoral programme that combines deep-level understanding in core topics and thorough grounding in methodological design and analytical skills. Joining the PhD programme means joining a Strategic Management and Entrepreneurship group with a highly collaborative and cutting-edge research culture. The group harbours expertise in a broad range of topics: faculty members and PhD candidates work across nearly all relevant areas of the strategic management and entrepreneurship fields.

Collaboration with expert faculty: Throughout the programme, candidates work closely with faculty on joint and supervised research. Teamwork offers candidates the opportunity to learn diverse research skills and become familiar with a range of debates in the field before selecting the focus of subsequent doctoral work. 

Excellent job opportunities: Alumni of the PhD programme hold academic positions in renowned academic institutes around the world, including Cambridge, ETH Zurich, HEC Paris, INSEAD, Kellogg, McGill, the University of South Carolina, Renmin University, and WHU.

More information is on the “PhD in Strategic Management” website: https://www.rsm.nl/research/departments/strategic-management-and-entrepreneurship/phd-in-strategic-management/.

Keywords

Strategic management, (corporate) entrepreneurship, corporate governance, business model innovation, global strategy, strategy and organization, sustainable strategy

Topic

Strategic Management and Entrepreneurship focuses on understanding why some firms perform better than others, how firms behave, and what determines success in international competition. Given its broad scope, the field is highly integrative and multi-disciplinary, and feeds on insights from a wide range of disciplines, such as sociology, psychology, law, finance, and economics. The field focuses on actions associated with changing the firm's scope and profile of business lines, including vertical integration, mergers and acquisitions, divestitures, corporate diversification strategy/organization, implementation, and performance. The field also addresses questions of how decision-makers can best leverage knowledge and innovation in order to foster competitive advantage for their firms as well as how cultural, social, political, economic, technological, and environmental forces influence firms, entrepreneurs, and corporate strategies in a global context and in societies that expect firms to deploy more socially and environmentally sustainable strategies. Other topics include entrepreneurial behavior in new ventures, scale-ups, and established organizations. Moreover, the field focuses on how strategic leadership and governance shape firms, firm behavior, and outcomes.

Current themes that have the focus of our faculty and PhD candidates 

  1. Strategy, Organization, and Governance. A combination of economic, political, and social forces gives rise to a wide range of organizational forms. Research in strategy, organization, and governance aims to explain and identify the mechanisms through which modern firms shape and align their organizational structures, governance and ownership with the strategies, resource dependencies, and business models through which they create and capture value. Research in our group is highly versatile, including projects investigating the re-emergence of craft organizations and state capitalism on the world stage, the competitive advantage and strategic resilience of business groups, owner-managed firms, family firms, and professional partnerships, and how active owners shape the strategies and the organizational and governance structures of listed firms across different national contexts. Our research often takes up a comparative perspective, involving both comparisons between different institutional contexts and comparisons between different organizational forms.
  2. Strategic Entrepreneurship. In today’s fast-paced environments, wealth creation demands proficiency in continuously identifying and generating new opportunities for growth. At the nexus of entrepreneurship and strategic management, research on strategic entrepreneurship is concerned with understanding how organizations link entrepreneurial behaviour and strategic advantage-seeking actions to create and capture wealth. The work in our group focuses on ambidexterity, corporate entrepreneurship, scaling up, and strategy implementation. Exemplary research addresses such aspects as: how organizations strengthen their core business while also developing new businesses that will define the future; how organizations become more entrepreneurial through the generation of new businesses within established systems and through strategic renewal; how some organizations can ignite rapid growth and scale up successfully by leveraging new technologies, establishing platforms, redefining boundaries, and developing new and scalable business models; and how new practices and technologies enable firms to implement strategies which focus on venturing into new businesses as well as strengthening their core.
  3. Strategy, Knowledge, and Innovation. New technologies and new business models reshape the way firms do business. This calls for new insights into how managers and entrepreneurs can best innovate and leverage knowledge to build competitive advantages for their firms. The field of strategy, knowledge, and innovation focuses on how managers and entrepreneurs build and renew the technological, social, and relational capital to shape such innovations. It addresses such issues as strategic renewal, innovation management, management innovation and the rise of new organizational forms, collaborative and open innovation, innovation ecosystems, and corporate venturing. Our group covers a wide range of topics in this area, such as: micro-foundations of absorptive capacity and dynamic capabilities that enable innovation; the origins of business model innovations; the implications of technological disruptions; the mechanisms of effective collaborations to achieve innovation by large incumbent firms and new ventures; and the governance and assessment of the impact of such collaborations.
  4. Global Strategy. The competitive landscape of firms is increasingly dynamic, diverse, and global. The field of global strategy aims to enrich our understanding of how internationally operating firms form and implement their strategies, and how firms shape, and are shaped by, their global context. It focuses on foreign-entry strategies in culturally, politically, and economically heterogeneous contexts, and ultimately on the determinants of success or failure in international arenas. Our group typically adopts an institutions-based perspective, which argues that international firms are constrained and enabled by widely diverse, durable rules of the game, as illustrated by the diverse societal expectations around competitive behaviour and sustainability performance. Exemplary research projects in our group include novel views on culture, cross-border knowledge transfer, strategic responses to institutional voids, influences of governments and other stakeholders on corporate environmental practices, cross-country and within-country variance in institutions, and international strategies of the largest companies, born-globals, and emerging-market multinationals.
  5. Behavioural Strategy and Entrepreneurial Behaviour. Influential strategic and entrepreneurial decisions result from extraordinary human effort. Behavioural strategy and entrepreneurial behaviour inform us about the psychology behind these high-impact and complex decisions. It takes a micro-level perspective to understanding how managers and entrepreneurs create and sustain value for their organizations and stakeholders, enriching strategy and entrepreneurship theory through forefront research on human cognition, emotions, and social and innovative behaviour of entrepreneurs, executives, and their teams. Seminal research in the field comprises the behavioural theory of the firm and the upper echelons perspective, as well as pivotal work from cognitive and social psychology. Exemplary group projects explore: how top managers, boards, and shareholders embrace uncertainty; how gender affects entrepreneurial behaviour; how disinhibition (ADHD) fuels entrepreneurial orientation; how CEO personality drives firm decisions, behaviour, and outcomes; how emotion influences idea generation and exploitation; and how biases and heuristics impact strategic decisions.

Approach

Programme Overview

During the first 18 months, PhD candidates follow an intensive trajectory of courses to build the theoretical knowledge and develop methodological skills needed to become successful researchers. Through a series of content-oriented courses, PhD candidates examine foundational works, current debates, forward-looking insights, and common and novel methods to study core topics in the field, such as strategic organization, strategic decision-making, strategy implementation, strategy and innovation, corporate governance, start-ups and scale-ups, global strategy, and sustainable strategies. Methods courses include quantitative techniques, qualitative methods, as well as critical analytical techniques. In addition to coursework, candidates work on research papers coached by faculty members. Progress of candidates is assessed through coursework, research papers, and appraisal presentation. PhD candidates will also join ongoing research projects to acquire hands-on experience. 

After 15 months, candidates submit their research proposal in collaboration with a supervising team. The research proposal describes research question(s), intended contributions, positioning in the field, and methodological approach of the research they will carry out during the remainder of the trajectory. This second stage will focus on implementing and writing up the various studies that together make up the dissertation.

The complete PhD programme in Strategic Management and Entrepreneurship typically takes five years.

Required Profile

Given the multidisciplinary nature of studying strategic management and entrepreneurship topics, PhD candidates typically have diverse backgrounds. The group welcomes applications from excellent candidates from diverse disciplinary and national backgrounds who share a passion for academic research on strategy-relevant topics and who have strong academic credentials. The ideal candidate for the PhD programme in Strategic Management and Entrepreneurship has a strong research orientation, including good analytical skills and a demonstrated competence in the use of diverse empirical techniques, as evidenced by an MSc thesis or other research papers (co)authored by the candidate.

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 aim for publication in the field’s leading journals. The Strategy and Entrepreneurship group has a strong focus on publications in the field’s top journals, such as the Academy of Management Journal, Academy of Management Review, Administrative Science Quarterly, Journal of International Business Studies, Journal of Management, Journal of Management Studies, Organization Science, Organization Studies, and Strategic Management Journal.

Cooperation

PhD research within the Strategy and Entrepreneurship group at the Rotterdam School of Management will typically take place in teams of which the composition is contingent on the focus of the individual research projects that together make up a PhD thesis. In addition, researchers in the Strategy and Entrepreneurship group collaborate with renowned scholars from leading business schools around the world. In order to secure placements of PhD graduates at top business schools around the world, the Strategy and Entrepreneurship group encourages PhD candidates to build an international network through collaborative projects with, and research visits to, leading scholars in the field.

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, including publications and seminars for practitioners, executive education, media interventions, and the development of cases and other teaching materials that translate academic knowledge into actionable insights.

Scientific relevance

The Strategy and Entrepreneurship group aims to contribute to ongoing research streams in the fields of strategic management and entrepreneurship as well as to pioneer and define new research areas in these fields.