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Nottingham Business School Studentships

Nottingham Business School’s (NBS) purpose is to provide research and education that combines academic excellence with positive impact on people, business and society.

Students chatting NBS

As a world leader in experiential learning and personalisation, joining the NBS as a researcher is an opportunity to achieve your potential. We have an unrivalled level of engagement with business, public and voluntary organisations and thus is known as the "business school for business".

We are accredited by EQUIS and AACSB, which are internationally recognised hallmarks of excellence and quality for business education. NBS is one of only six UK business schools recognised as a PRME Champion, and help up as an exemplar by the United Nations of Principles of Responsible Management Education (PRME).

We are committed to excellence in research that combines academic rigour with beneficial impact on social, economic and societal welfare, which is facilitated and defined by their research centres. Our PhD programme is supported by 12 internationally leading research centres and research groups comprising the expertise of world class academics across a breadth of subject expertise such as Management and Organisation Studies, Marketing, Accounting and Finance, Human Resource Management, Economics, Sustainability, International Business, Entrepreneurship, Behavioural Sciences, and Health & Wellbeing.

The NBS PhD Programme offers a bespoke research training programme and doctoral symposia, and opportunities to engage in specialised training and research workshops to help you advance in your area of interest and research. These platforms will provide for a safe and supportive environment to grow and develop as a researcher and receive feedback from peers and subject experts. In addition, we recognize the importance and significance of having a community to belong to, and we are proud to have a large, vibrant and an international PhD community who meet regularly, and where new candidates will feel very welcomed.

NTU Fully funded PhD Studentship Scheme 2023

You are invited to submit your PhD proposal either for one of the research topics advertised below or you can also propose your own topic, but please ensure your topic is aligned to at least one of our NBS research centre or groups, and the research themes they broadly cover.

Please visit NBS PhD Programme webpage to familiarise yourself with our research centres, the PhD application process, what is expected in your research proposal, overview of the NBS PhD experience and other details.

Contact us

If you have any queries or want to discuss anything prior to your submission, please email the NBS Director of Doctoral Programmes and PhD Course Leader, Dr. Ishan Jalan or NBS Associate Dean for Research, Prof. Alistair Bruce.

We look forward to receiving your proposals.

Ready to apply?

The application deadline is 12 noon (GMT) on Thursday 12 January 2023.

Please visit our how to apply page for guidance and to make an application.

Research topics

Behavioural economics (including experimental economics) is the use of experimental methods with monetary incentives to evaluate theoretical predictions of human behaviour. It uses controlled, scientifically designed experiments to test human behaviour. Experimental economic research offers the advantage of an immediate observation of people’s decisions. The incentivised research method leads to reliable prognoses of human behaviour. We will build tailored interventions to improve coordination, motivation, engagement and cooperation in organisations with employees from diverse backgrounds.

As a PhD student you will work with individual organisations and your participants in the Centre for Behavioural Sciences. Your methods will range from Experiments (online and in the BIRD laboratory / Simulations). We work internationally with other groups / laboratories across the globe to maintain our cross- cultural, cross-nations and international research approach. Our interdisciplinarity gives us a systematic view into human decision making and allows us to combine insights from various disciplines to gain a holistic understanding of what factors shape and motivate human behaviour. Our approach is grounded in the experimental method. This allows us to identify the root causes of the issues we are studying and develop interventions to effect positive change. Our interventions vary from nudges to proposals for institutional changes.

You are invited to submit PhD proposals in the investigation of various interdisciplinary topics (to be studied using a behavioural economics lens), that could range from the drivers of corruption in public procurement, the determinants of household demand for energy consumption, how to improve road traffic flows, what makes a good line manager, how to build and sustain a positive company culture, the effect of leaders’ behaviour, intercultural impediments to international business deals, how to improve the wellbeing and productivity of employees, etc. You should have an interest or background in behavioural and experimental economics and familiar with statistical software skills (Stata). An interest in programming experiments online and offline would be a bonus.

For more information about this topic, contact Thorsten Chmura, Centre for Behavioural Science.

According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAOUN), ruminants (cattle, sheep, goats etc.) are the main contributor to GHG emissions; for instance, cattle represent about 65% of the livestock sector’s emissions, with beef cattle contributing 41% and milk 20% of the livestock sectors overall GHG outputs.  Digital twins have increasingly been applied in industries such as manufacturing operations, healthcare services and the automotive industry for greater efficiency and ecological benefits such as end-of-life product recycling[1]. The proposed PhD research aims to develop digital twin models (DTMs) for the cattle industry, focusing on beef farms in the UK. DTMs will reduce GHG emissions from beef cattle radically. Meanwhile, DTMs open the potential for scaling up smart and sustainable farming and networking the whole beef supply chain for greater economic efficiency. Beef farms are usually SMEs with a dozen to the small hundreds herd size. Highly distributed farms make scaling-up farm solutions, including methane treatment, impossible. This makes many beef farms rely heavily on government subsidies, making it hard to break out of “zombie” status. On the other hand, the government is trapped into providing the subsidy lifeline to keep the industry alive. DTMs in smart farming have significant potential to transform the beef industry. Existing developments are often limited to dairy farm animal-centric solutions at the milking station regularly. However, beef cattle are often out in the wild for most of the year, making farm-centric tracking systems “blind”. In addition, whilst dairy cattle are predominantly Holstein, beef cattle could be any of the over 200 breeds recognised by the UK Government. Solutions working on one breed will need further validation for other breeds.

Interested applications should have a background in either of the following two relevant subject areas: Information Science / Tech Management; Entrepreneurship / Innovation / Strategy

For more information about this topic, contact Dongmei Cao, Centre for Business and Industry Transformation.

This proposed doctoral research project empowers future ESG entrepreneurs who lead the adoption of ESG in their business model innovation. Apply Environment Social and Governance (ESG) principles and standards to existing businesses seems challenging since ESG criteria and standards (such as carbon emission and net zero initiatives, waste management, employment diversity and inclusion, fair labour police etc.) are commonly considered a “compliance” issue by most firms. The compliance mentality made ESG a “cost-bearing” matter for firms rather than a profit-making one. Consequently, firms are less incentivised to improve their ESG performance. However, ESG can be a profit-making force. For example, UK energy consumers have become more likely to buy sustainable energy. Therefore, there is a need for business leaders to develop more sustainable offerings which can generate better returns through higher margins.

This PhD project aims to develop more sustainable and profitable ESG-driven business models by collaborating with future ESG leaders. Developing MOSMOP business models requires the ability to rapidly and effectively respond to consumers’ and broader stakeholders’ value perception and behaviour shift toward ESG. To this end, this project will first seek to understand consumer brand perception to depict stakeholders’ ESG perceptions and relevant new needs. Secondly, this project collaborates with future ESG leaders and practitioners, sharing existing knowledge and best practices in incorporating ESG into business model design in their context. The share and collaboration could help participants redesign their business models by aligning stakeholders’ ESG perceptions as a pivotal proposition to create unique products/services for their businesses and industries.

This project empowers future ESG entrepreneurs who lead the adoption of ESG in their business model innovation.  Meanwhile, future ESG entrepreneurs will play a significant role in transforming the ESG norms into a wide business community through social business networking. They will subsequently become a disruptive force that can better design economically viable businesses while enhancing ESG performance, arguably addressing globally shared ESG challenges. The result will allow academic partners to derive new insights, inform more research opportunities, and design new curriculums.

Interested applications should have a background in either of the following two relevant subject areas: Information Science / Tech Management; Entrepreneurship / Innovation / Strategy

For more information, contact Xiao Ma, Centre for Business and Industry Transformation.

This project will provide important and timely insights into the ethical boundaries for big data usage with an inquiry into current practices relating to the usage of big data such as web scraping. Today, this web scraping practice has been widely used by companies for example, in gathering competitor prices. However, the state-of-the-art of web scraping requires further research to guide companies, accountants, academics. etc because web scraping is considered both legal (viewing publicly available data) and illegal (stealing competitors’ data) at the same time. Moreover, the courts in the USA and the UK have considered web scraping illegal (the European Union: the CJEU in NLA v Meltwater, 2013). Simultaneously, the courts have ruled it legal (the European Union: Ryanair Ltd v PR Aviation BV, 2015). Currently, in both the US and the UK there is significant ambiguity meaning that the situation is worthy of investigation from both a theoretical and practical point of view. Hence, at present, there is a gap in the literature that requires detailed investigation via a mixed, methods, multi context study of the phenomenon. The legal developments regarding web scraping in the European and the UK legal systems have disordered many practitioners and accountants. Hence, filling this gap is important and is critical to inform practitioners, accountants and academia so they can make informed strategic decisions in relation to the ethical and predictive aspects of the usage of big data.

Interested applicants should have a Master’s level knowledge in Accounting and Finance or Business with sound industry experience, sound mathematical and statistics skills, sound computing skills and/or flexibility to learn new technologies/ applications

For more information on this topic, contact Padmi Nagirikandalage, Centre for Finance, Technology and Society.

The purpose of this study is to understand whether corporate ESG performance is influenced by global sustainable goals and what are the difference between developed and developing countries.  A few studies have examined the impact of country-level governance on the ESG disclosure of firms (Cahan et al., 2016; De Villiers and Marques, 2016), but a relationship between SDG commitment level and ESG ranking has yet to be verified empirically. There is a need to investigate the relationship between ESG performance and SDGs countries’ levels with a comparison between developed and developing markets to find the best combination of sustainable development goals which influence the ESGs disclosures. Companies over the world tend to focus on their ESG performance level for many reasons. Firstly, it is a way to provide how much of the potential of each country (or private sector) to contribute towards achieving SDGs (Liang and Renneboog, 2017). Secondly, the international standards and capital markets requirements for multinational companies operating in different countries apply various ESG performance magnitude domestically (Schoenherr, 2012; Antanasijevic et al., 2017). Thirdly, there is a great demand for private sector of each country to demonstrate their performance on the sustainable development (Brammer et al., 2012). Since the previous studies have examined the country-level factors that classified them within three categories as: democracy, political stability, and regulatory quality (see for example: Mooneeapen, et al., 2021), this study will attempt to include all 17 SDGs. Additionally, this study will focus on determining each country’s sustainable characteristics which could influence the level of ESG while identifying the differences between developed and emerging markets with a sector analysis in each market as well. The research will attempt to answer the following questions:

  • How does a country’s development sustainable characteristics of 17 goals influence ESG?
  • To what extent does the influence of country characteristics differ among the three pillars of ESG?
  • What is the difference between developed countries and emerging countries?

The mapping of ESG with SDGs can be used as a guide to understand the linkages between ESG issues, corporate sustainability performance and the SDGs, and to quantitatively evaluate firms' progress towards implementing the SDGs using available ESG performance indicators.

Applicants should have Master’s degree in accounting and finance or any business-related field with a sound experience in any industry, good skills of using quantitative methods

For more information on this topic, contact Suliman Alshahmy, Centre for Finance, Technology and Society.

This project will investigate the potential of a novel method analysis of patent success to add to collective understanding of factors driving patent quality, an economy's capacity for innovation and related economic and societal benefits. Patents have long been considered a key indicator of an economy's capacity for innovation, particularly when economic competition is increasingly based on knowledge production and technological innovation. Further, as intangible assets and Intellectual Property (IP) rights have become pivotal to economic success, the insights offered by this research will inform policymakers as they seek to enhance local, regional and national competitiveness and will allow for informed and timely decision-making. The emergence of machine learning and access to big patent data has recently led to a paradigm change from traditional patent data analysis approaches to novel approaches. Research has been donepreviously in this direction for analysing data on various patent characteristics such as IPC class, patent citations, etc. However, much less has been investigated regarding the forecast of patent grant probability that is significant for the decision-making process by organisations.

Therefore, this project will examine hundreds of thousands of patents filled by the top 500 firms (based on total market capitalisation) in the UK across multiple industries over the last twenty years. The objectives of this holistic project are threefold: 1) to develop a new metric to measure the quality of a patent and the patent grant probability [the successful patentability] based on a machine learning method, and one which is of significant benefit in formulating a policy intervention aimed at accelerating and predicting new technological advances in industry; 2) to illustrate the utility of the new metric. To perfrom, extra firm performance data in a specific industry (e.g., financial industry) such as R&D expenditures, revenues, and stock market performance will be collected to study the relationship between firm performance output and patent (intellectual property) strategies; 3) to highlight the effective strategies in talent acquisition, IP trends and organisational resources, this research also aims to measure factors impacting motivations to file patents by organisations will use a survey method among selected companies to recognise differences amongst start-ups, SMEs and large organisation based in the UK, especially in the financial industry.

Applications should have Master’s degree in management, Finance, Industrial engineering, Computer science or related fields, an ability to analyse and interpret data, ability to analyse data with R or Stata and a detailed understanding of Python programming.

For more information, contact Milad Armani Dehghani, Centre for Finance, Technology and Society.

The wellbeing agenda, including both physical and mental health, has been significantly advanced across a wide range of sectors over the past decade. Contemporary organisations continue to throw up new challenges for workplace wellbeing including, but not limited to, new ways of working, distributed workforces, hybrid management structures, leadership challenges, issues of work life balance, emotional experiences of anxiety and/or stress, marginalisation and suffering, issues with talent management and challenges around equality, diversity, and inclusion. All these new (and evolving) challenges influence and shape our experiences at work and directly or indirectly, have a deep and profound impact on our mental health and sense of well-being. This raises questions and challenges for leadership and management studies, and organisational policy and practice. We welcome proposals that concern any of the above aspects, especially with a focus around improving the human condition at work.

For more information, please contact Ishan Jalan (NBS Health and Wellbeing Research Network)

Recent events such as Covid-19, climate change urgency, the war in Europe and digital transformation brought about debates on the future of globalisation and the impact on economies, people and organisational decision-making structures, cooperation, and competition. Given that foreign Direct Investment (FDI) and international trade have been a major driver of international business activities, it is common to ask: How will the architecture of international business strategies and decisions deal with these new realities? How can major international players adapt to uncertainties and challenges? What ways and solutions are envisaged to integrate emerging economies into the global economy to push forward alternative trading partners? How resilient are organisations in the global environment, in international markets and a changing political landscape? These recent events are influencing international business strategies, structures and decisions with serious implications for international trade and ventures, in general.

For instance, an articulation of the ultimate purpose of an organization is also widely held to be a condition that enhances the meaningfulness of work, which are increasingly valuable at a time when global pandemics and geopolitical tensions raise the need for organizational resilience, whether as large multinationals (MNE), small and medium sized enterprises (SME) or born global entrepreneurs. Regarding the corporate high purpose of MNEs, there is an issue of the appeal to the workforce of different subsidiaries from different national cultures with the resulting challenges. Against this backdrop, we therefore invite research proposals that seek to address and offer new insights into how these new realities in international business can be addressed from an economic, societal, and psychological angle as well as unpack the dynamics and outcomes of international business strategies and decisions. Drawing on varieties of theories and methods of qualitative and quantitative research, this research project should investigate approaches that strengthen and would set the roadmap for addressing the new realities in international business research.


  • Buckley, P.J., 2020. The theory and empirics of the structural reshaping of globalization. Journal of International Business Studies51(9), pp.1580-1592.
  • Contractor, F.J., 2022. The world economy will need even more globalization in the post-pandemic 2021 decade. Journal of International Business Studies53(1), pp.156-171.
  • Ghauri, P.N.,Strange,R and Cooke, F.L. 2021. Research in International Business: The New Realities, International Business Review, 30: 1-11.
  • Ciravegna, L. and Michailova, S. 2021. Why the world economy needs, but will not get, more globalization in the post-COVID-19 decade, Journal of International Business Studies (2021),  online.

For more information on this topic, contact Ursula Ott, Centre for International Business Strategy and Decisions

This project gives the opportunity for the successful candidate to connect with an important topic- employee voice- that has implications for staff wellbeing as well as strategic outcomes. In this project, we propose to build on work already well developed within CPWOP  in several ways. Based on the job demands- resources (J D-R) theoretical frame (Demerouti et al. 2001), in this project we will explore the existence of the two voice forms in an organisational as well as in a sector-wide setting.  In so doing, we will draw on our pre-existing sectoral-level data and collect further data within selected organisations to examine the antecedents of the two voice forms (organisation and employee focused), as well as potential outcomes (such as staff engagement, innovation and resilience).  The field lacks knowledge about contextual factors, especially where employee focused voice is concerned.  While line managers and supervisors may have a central role to play (e.g. Hoogervorst, De Cremer & van Dijke, 2013), HR practices such as reward, job design and job involvement are also likely to influence how employees perceive voice, and whether organisational or employee focused voice is prioritised (Mowbray & Wilkinson, 2016; Nechanska et al., 2020). The research will also investigate the role of role of collective channels such as trade unions, employee representative groups and participation opportunities.   We will turn to these questions and provide understanding about the steps needed to facilitate the two voice forms.

This research is important for the following reasons.  First, it will allow HR and other leaders to better understand employees’ experiences of voice in the organisation, in particular, if organisational voice or employee-focused voice is at the forefront, whether there are pockets of strength in some parts of the organisation rather than others and what effect this may incur for employee wellbeing as well as strategically apposite factors such as innovative behaviours. This will inform strategic efforts, so that HR and other leaders can take action accordingly.  Next, it offers insight as to how organisation might inculcate the two voice forms, what the effects might be on other outcomes such as staff engagement and whether there are contingencies such as leadership and/or personal differences that might impact the association between the two voice forms and the dependent variables of interest.  This will offer a blueprint for organisations in developing balanced perspectives on voice, considering employee concerns and needs as well as strategic requirements.

For more information on this topic, contact Helen Shipton, Centre for People, Work and Organizational Practice

Knowledge about the financial services landscape of most developing countries is very limited and yet, approximately 60 percent of women entrepreneurs in that region rely on informal finance as a source for their start–up capital (World Bank Group, 2017). As compared to developed economies, the developing economy region’s financial services within the informal sector provide a lifeline for women–owned businesses (see Kislat, 2015). Thus, and considering that the vast majority of small businesses in the developing countries region are owned and operated by women, it is important that new research pays attention to the underlying mechanisms that cause women entrepreneurs to rely on the informal source of finance even when it is reported that they can acquire financial resources through formal financing institutions (World Bank Group, 2017). Scholarly research is yet to catch–up with regards to the rationale behind the financing decisions of entrepreneurs operating in dynamic contexts (see for instance Nguyen and Canh, 2020) such as Africa. Prior studies lack theoretical models that especially account for the context of women–owned businesses in the developing economies and yet doing so is important as such contexts have a distinctive mix of conditions that have been largely eschewed in the entrepreneurship literature (Ogundana et al., 2021). Accordingly, this project will be guided by three important research questions to explore this entrepreneurship phenomenon:

  • How do women entrepreneurs make their financing decisions in the developing economy region?
  • Why do women entrepreneurs in the developing economy region use informal financial services?
  • What are theoretical and practical implications for doing so?

To address these three research questions, potential PhD student could draw upon institutional theory, social feminism theory and/or relevant literature on cognitive financial constraints.

For more information on this topic, contact Amon Simba, Innovation, Digitization, Entrepreneurship and Operations Research Group

This project aims to address the pressing question of how companies can successfully achieve sustainability goals through coopetition (i.e., by simultaneously cooperating and competing with other firms in the industry). As several stakeholders¾the UN, governments, universities, and businesses¾strive to build a more sustainable world, a transformative approach calling for more inter-firm collaborations is needed (Louche et al., 2021). In fact, UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), for example goal 7 of “Affordable and Clean Energy” requires companies to collaborate with one another, as also accentuated by UN goal 17 of “Partnerships for the Goals” (UN, 2019). Earlier research (e.g., Harbison & Pekar, 1998) suggests that more than 50% of partnerships/alliances are formed between already competing firms. Competitors not only face similar economic and sustainability challenges in their industries, but also possess relevant resources and complementary skills/capabilities to address such challenges. On this basis, competitors can be seen as best partners for sustainability goals (Manzhynski & Figge, 2019). For example, it is interesting to see how Renault and Nissan cooperated by combining their knowledge, resources, and expertise to develop eco-innovation for electric vehicles. Despite being competitors, they invested more than $5 billion in this endeavour, and became one of the world’s leading plug-in electric vehicle manufacturers, with a worldwide sale of about 425,000 pure electric vehicles since 2010. Such arrangements in which companies cooperate and compete simultaneously is known as coopetition (Bengtsson & Kock, 2000).

Despite the proliferation of coopetition, research findings (e.g., Park & Ungson, 2001) also indicate that more than half of such relations fail. One major reason is that cooperation and competition are two contradictory forces that stem several paradoxical tensions, which are difficult to manage (Raza-Ullah, 2020). To exemplify, firms struggle to both share knowledge and protect knowledge (knowledge tension), both create value and appropriate value (value tension), and both get close and keep distance (relational/identity tension). Simultaneously, opportunistic behaviour, power imbalances, and role conflicts are at play. The concurrent pursuit of sustainability (i.e., environmental, social, and economic) brings additional complexities and tensions to the fore. For example, not only the economic dimension vis-à-vis the environmental and social dimensions are in tension, the social and environmental agendas also compete for resources, time, and attention (Hahn et al., 2015).

The strategy literature informs us little about how firms may address such complexities to achieve sustainability goals. Accordingly, there is a need for interdisciplinary research—e.g., leveraging insights from strategy, paradox, and management literatures—that can inform new thinking about how inter-firm coopetition could be a fruitful strategy to address sustainability challenges and opportunities. This project thus aims to help firms understand and develop mechanisms and strategies required to deal effectively with the inherent complexities and tensions in “coopetition for sustainability” settings.

For more information on this topic, contact, Tatbeeq Raza-Ullah, Centre for Marketing and Consumer Studies

The extended realities (XR) of Virtual and Augmented Reality (VR and AR) are an emerging research frontier. The possibilities of interactions between consumer and services are enormous. Here, the Metaverse is an extremely scaled and interoperable network of real-time rendered 3D virtual worlds which could be experienced synchronously and insistently by an effectively unlimited number of consumers with an individual sense of existence and with continuity of data, including: identity, history, entitlements, objects, communications and payments (Ball, 2022; Dwivedi 2022; Hollensen et al., 2022). The metaverse platform is a set of virtual spaces where you can create, produce and explore with other individuals who are not in the same physical space as you (Bosworth & Clegg, 2022; Hollensen et al., 2022). Thus, “the Metaverse will not fundamentally replace the internet or the “social media” framework, but instead build upon and iteratively transform it into an online 3D social media world, full of many new exciting user experiences” (Hollensen et al., 2022, p. 1).

Metaverse travel could change the way that consumers engage with the travel, hospitality and tourism industry. For example, consumers can explore a hotel in VR while they sit in their home on the other part of the world. By creating three-dimensional models of real locations, metaverse travel create new experiences/engagements and new ways for consumers deciding on accommodation and tourism activities. Metaverse travel also offers (e.g., immersive virtual travelling, online virtual exhibition, virtual theme parks, etc) a safer and less pricey way to discover new destinations (Revfine, 2022). Here, both consumers and service providers can work, play, socialise, and experience virtually and affordably (e.g., metaverse games), therefore such interaction can enhance consumer level of acceptance, significant improvements towards rapid adoption technology and market growth (Dwivedi 2022; Gursoy et al., 2022; Revfine, 2022; Shin, 2019; 2022). It is unlikely Metaverse travel would ever replace real travel and hospitality experiences. However, Metaverse travel, and VR technology will likely supplement and boost further the traditional travel, hospitality and tourism industry. To this end, this project aims to unpack the new issues and trends in the Metaverse travel from both consumers and service provider perspectives. We anticipate a mixed-method approach, drawing on both quantitative (e.g., survey, experimental studies) and qualitative (e.g., interviews, netnography), drawing on relevant theories to understand the impact of the Metaverse travel engagement and related contextual factors during VR interactions.

This doctoral project aims to unpack the new issues and trends in the Metaverse travel from both consumers and service provider perspectives.

For more information, contact Mojtaba Poorrezaei, Centre for Marketing and Consumer Studies