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Respond, reset, recover: the impact of COVID-19 on the VCSE sector

  • School: Nottingham Business School
  • Starting: 2022 / 2023
  • Funding: UK student / EU student (non-UK) / International student (non-EU) / Self-funded


Covid-19 had a dramatic impact on the Voluntary, Community and Social Enterprise (VCSE) Sector. The initial lockdown was estimated to have cost the sector £4.3bn meaning that income went down at the time when demand was rising. For many organizations that operated on face to face delivery the implications were significant, as Covid-19 meant that new ways of operating, organizing and managing became essential.

At the beginning of the pandemic the Centre for People, Work and Organizational Practice (CPWOP) was successful in receiving funding by the ESRC to investigate the impact of Covid-19 on the VCSE sector. This project had three components 1) a monthly barometer, with approximately 350-700 responses a month by VCSE organizations looking at the impact on organizations themselves and how they were responding, 2) a quarterly panel survey of about 300 organizations looking at their leadership and management throughout 2021 and 3) 300 in depth, fully transcribed interviews, providing behind the scenes insights into how organizations were responding to the pandemic.

This proposed PhD is designed to build on this rich data set and develop insights and follow-on research from the original study. As it has both qualitative and quantitative data it could be of interest to researchers interested in the VCSE sector, or organizational studies more widely, using a variety of methodologies. The proposed PhD offers scope not only to investigate and analyse this rich data (in particular the 300 interviews) but also to conduct follow-on studies to see how these organizations developed in the years following the peak of the pandemic.

The ideal candidate will be interested in the VCSE sector, particularly from an organizational studies viewpoint. Interest in topics such as leadership, innovation, power and wider critical management or organizational studies perspectives would be particularly welcome.

Application Enquiries:

Entry qualifications

An applicant should normally hold a Master’s degree at distinction or merit level of a UK university or an equivalent qualification. International students will also need to meet the English language requirements - IELTS 6.5 (with minimum sub-scores of 6.0). Applicants who have taken a higher degree at a UK university are normally exempt from the English language requirements.

How to apply

Please visit our how to apply page for a step-by-step guide and make an application.

Application deadline: 15th August for 1st Oct 2022 start date, or 15th Nov for 1st Jan 2023 start date.

Fees and funding

This opportunity is for self-funded PhD students. Applicants are encouraged to apply for external funding and we will support this process if and when required. Find out about fees and funding for PhD projects.

Guidance and support

Find out about guidance and support for PhD students.

Still need help?

Prof. Daniel King