The Operations and Technology Management PhD pathway


The Operations and Technology Management (OTM) group has a leading reputation in 4 areas, in which we recruit, train and place our PhD students:

  • innovation management and new product development
  • healthcare operations
  • sustainable operations
  • managing risk, uncertainty and complexity

We cover a broad range of methodological expertise which we apply in our research and in which we train our PhD students, including mathematical modelling, data analytics and econometrics, and behavioural laboratory and field experiments.

Professor Stelios Kavadias talks about the Operations and Technology Management pathway.

Hi, I’m Stelios Kavadias. I’m the Margaret Thatcher Professor of Enterprise Studies in Innovation and Growth here at Cambridge Judge Business School, and I’d like to share a few thoughts with you about our operations focus of the PhD programme here at Cambridge Judge Business School. A key question that many people have when they start contemplating going into a PhD programme is what’s really in it for them? What’s the idea behind the subject like operations?

Personally, obviously, I would say that the operations is one of the most exciting topics and subjects one could get involved in, simply because it captures the fact that you study how things are made, how things are happening within organisations, especially given the fact that you have to take into account processes, people, strategy, and make sure that all work in sync in order to get stuff done to make things happen, as we would say. We have chosen to make this a central theme within the Operations group here at Cambridge Judge Business School and primarily the work that our PhD students are working on these days with the faculty is focusing on getting relevant problems from actual organisations and trying, then, to obstruct them away into the true, fundamental, theoretical questions that we can source based on those problems.

Eventually, through a rigorous– extremely rigorous– analysis, we’re trying then to turn the answers that we get out of those problems, out of those research projects into insights– fundamental insights– for the organisations, which should be completing the cycle of knowledge creation. With respect to the subjects that we carry some, I would say, special expertise, or if you wish, a competitive advantage just to use a business language. With respect to other business schools, competing PhD programmes out there in the globe, we feel that the Operations group here at Cambridge Judge Business School has tremendous expertise on three key topics.

The first one is strategic management of projects, and this goes beyond the, let’s say, simple perspectives that have been developed over the years, the traditional perspectives that have been supported over the years in terms of project management and focusing a bit more on how risky complex innovation projects should be managed. That’s an open-ended question are there in the corporate business world, and we feel terribly excited by being able to work on certain projects related to that. The second topic relates to services.

One way or another, most of the economies are turning into primarily service economies, especially in the Western world, and services being slightly more complex than the traditional production processes make it extremely hard to deliver and eventually create value for the organisation. So how can we actually take this complex phenomenon that’s called services, which implies corporate using results together with customers, with stakeholders, and so on and so forth and manage it effectively by increasing the bottom line. That’s an open-ended question, and again, one of our perspectives is being deeply involved with certain organisations– service organisations– be it in the financial sector, be it in the health care sector, and trying to drive as much new insights and knowledge creation as possible.

Another topic which is extremely interesting and very important for many of the organisations that we interact with in the globe, I would say, is the issue of decision making and senior management decision making. So how are decisions happening in groups? How are the processes that governed those decisions? How much are those decisions akin to the traditional, let’s say, rational optimisation perspective that the economics tradition have created, and how much do they happen to be influenced by behavioural aspects by psychological effects and conditions that the decision makers are subject to? That’s an open-ended question as well, and this is yet another topic and a domain, where we see quite some tremendous growth in terms of the potential for knowledge creation and there resides enough expertise within the Operations group here at Cambridge Judge Business School in terms of actual research outcomes.

If I would have to summarise the key strengths, I would say, of the PhD programme, I would put it in terms of three Rs just to make it as corporate as possible. It’s relevance, because we want to be working and deeply engaging with organisations; it’s rigour, because we want to be making statements that are supported in hard facts and they have gone through the scrutiny of theoretical analysis; and it’s results. Creating eventually the impact that the organisations can take back and improve their operations or push their understanding and thinking of what they do even more profoundly, which will lead to additional research eventually, but with this, at least it’s happening in a way that is systematic, and it helps them increase their bottom line.

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The pathway

To start on the Operations and Technology Management pathway you must take one of the following 9-month masters programmes:

MPhil in Strategy, Marketing and Operations

Master of Research (MRes)

Essential reading

Download detailed information about the 9-month + 4-year programme structure and content.

The OTM PhD pathway

Research areas

Study the fundamental principles that underlie the effective and efficient design and management of organisational processes, reliable partnerships and intra- and inter-organisational innovation capabilities.  

Benefit from an approach that is inherently multi-disciplinary, drawing on economics, industrial engineering, psychology and human behaviour. You will also attain a solid understanding of other organisational functions, especially strategy, marketing and some aspects of finance. 

Within the wider academic OTM community, Cambridge Judge Business School has a leading reputation in 4 key areas, in which we recruit, train and place our PhD students:  

  • innovation management and new product development 
  • healthcare operations
  • sustainable operations
  • managing risk, uncertainty and complexity

OTM faculty apply a broad range of methodological expertise in their research which you will be trained in, including mathematical modelling, data analytics and econometrics, and behavioural laboratory and field experiments.  

You will benefit from a faculty that is committed to rigorous and impactful research, that leverages long-standing relationships with other research groups and academic partners around the world, as well as with organisations in the private and public sectors, especially healthcare, life sciences, insurance and financial services industries.  

What we expect from you

You will need to have earned a first class bachelors degree or equivalent. In some cases you will need to have a masters degree from a highly regarded university and to have performed within the top 5% of your class. See the MPhil in Strategy, Marketing and Operations or Master of Research (MRes) academic requirements for more details.  

You will demonstrate a high level of commitment to an academic career in a business school as well as a desire to engage with external organisations. While many of our students have first degrees in economics, mathematics, psychology, engineering or the sciences, students with a humanities degree will also be considered. 

You can provide evidence of excellent writing skills, and strong evidence of your quantitative ability, either through results in statistics and calculus courses at university level or through GRE results. You may also have practical management experience although this is not a requirement. 

For more details, please see the academic requirements for the:

MPhil in Strategy, Marketing and Operations

Master of Research (MRes)

What you can expect from us

Prepare for an exciting and challenging academic research career in OTM with a multitude of benefits. 

  • Become part of our team from the outset, you will be treated as a junior colleague rather than a student. Experience an apprenticeship in the very best sense of that term. 
  • Your advisory team, a group of OTM faculty, will work with you and train you to become an independent researcher with an exciting research programme. 
  • Develop a portfolio of academic papers that will help you succeed in the job market and gain a junior faculty position in a leading business school after your PhD.  
  • Take a series of courses focused on research methodology and the foundations of the discipline as well as more advanced research seminars. 
  • Learn to critique recent publications and current working papers. This will enable you to shape and position your own work as a significant contribution to the academic literature. 
  • Receive practical research training, where you will develop and execute research projects jointly with faculty members.  
  • Explore rigorous methods and theoretical arguments with the practical goal of addressing highly relevant real-world problems and societal challenges.  
  • Engage with organisations directly, for example through summer internships, or by accompanying one of your advisors in their partner organisations.  
  • Opportunities to explore focused and in-depth academic research and potential to gain access to unique data. 
  • Build personal and academic relationships with faculty and fellow PhD students that will last a lifetime.  

PhD supervisors

Your principal supervisor will be a senior academic, often a reader or professor, from within the Operations and Technology Management pathway. You will benefit from their guidance and counsel throughout the programme, and beyond: in helping you to succeed in the job market and in gaining a faculty position at a leading business school. Your principal supervisor will take an active role in your research programme and will assemble a group of faculty (your advisory committee) who will co-author papers with you. 

Take a look at the faculty who may serve as your principal supervisor and view their research interests:

Feryal Erhun

Professor of Operations & Technology Management

Research interests

Feryal Erhun uses a synthesis of theory and practice-based research, her research focuses on (1) characterising, quantifying and eliminating system-wide inefficiencies in complex systems, such as supply networks and health care delivery, and (2) understanding the challenges of integration and strategic interactions between stakeholders in such complex systems. She holds honorary appointments with Cambridge University Hospitals and Papworth Hospital (the UK’s largest cardiothoracic hospital).

Jeremy Hutchison-Krupat

Associate Professor in Innovation & Operations Management

Research interests

Jeremy Hutchison-Krupat researches the decision processes through which firms can effectively implement their innovation strategy. In particular, the effect that i) resource allocation, ii) organisational structure, and iii) explicit and implicit incentive mechanisms have on a firm’s ability to generate ideas, select initiatives, and execute these initiatives.

Houyuan Jiang

Professor of Management Science

Research interests

Houyuan Jiang researches healthcare operations management, supply chain management and revenue management, for which he builds mathematical models, uncovers managerial insights, and develops computational methods. For healthcare operations management, at the strategic level, he is interested in designing appropriate contracts among healthcare payers and providers who interact, collaborate and compete vertically and horizontally. At the operational level, he is keen to design and analyse systems and processes that can efficiently utilise limited resources such as hospital beds and healthcare professionals.

Stylianos (Stelios) Kavadias

Margaret Thatcher Professor of Enterprise Studies in Innovation & Growth

Research interests

Stelios Kavadias researches the effectiveness of new product development (NPD) decisions with a particular focus on the decisions that concern: (i) the strategy implementation through the appropriate resource allocation rules and the definition of the “right” portfolio of new projects and products; (ii) the R&D ideation, search and experimentation process both at a firm level and the project team level; (iii) the effects of the organisational design and the associated incentive schemes on the product development outcome. At a broader level, seeking to understand the challenges that arise during the planning and execution phases of the innovation process, always with an operational/managerial perspective.

Christoph Loch

Professor of Operations & Technology Management

Research interests

Christoph Loch researches how organisations make innovation happen; this includes innovation in products as well as processes and practices, and it focuses on what happens on the ground rather than just strategising at an aggregate level. The topic is interdisciplinary and stretches from project management and processes (operations), to strategic portfolios and strategy deployment (strategy), to organisational structures and cultural habits (sociology), and to the motivation of educated and autonomous personnel (psychology).

Daniel (Danny) Ralph

Professor of Operations Research

Research interests

Danny Ralph researches risk in business decision making; risk aversion in electricity markets; methods and models for optimisation problems and equilibrium systems.

Stefan Scholtes

Dennis Gillings Professor of Health Management

Research interests

Stefan Scholtes researches the challenges of organising high-quality and affordable healthcare services, with specific interests in (i) integration challenges in regional health economies, (ii) organisational design and management of hospitals and hospital systems, and (iii) predictive analytics for performance evaluation and comparison, based on routinely collected large datasets. His research is strongly practice-based and builds on long-term relationships with organisations in the local health economy, in particular with Cambridge University Hospitals and Papworth Hospital (the UK’s largest cardiothoracic hospital), where he holds honorary appointments.

Nektarios (Aris) Oraiopoulos

Professor of Operations & Technology Management

Research interests

Aris Oraiopoulos researches our understanding of how firms can improve their new product development processes from the creation of new opportunities to the selection process and development. Technology and R&D management, particularly from the perspective of learning through collaborative agreements and joint development.

Kishore Sengupta

Professor of Operations Management

Research interests

Kishore Sengupta researches project management; knowledge management; business value of technology.

Niyazi Taneri

Associate Professor in Operations & Technology Management

Research interests

Niyazi Taneri uses empirical and game-theoretic models to address two research streams: (i) product and business model innovation – where his research shows how firms should structure R&D, whether such theoretical predictions are followed in practice, and the consequences of deviating from theory; and, (ii) the impact of operations and technology on societal outcomes – where his research shows the critical role of operations on labour malpractice (e.g. child labour) and carbon emissions. Upcoming projects will also explore innovative contracts for R&D, the adoption of new business models, the value impacts of firms’ responses to cyber-attacks, and the effectiveness of police operations against drug trafficking.

PhD advisory team

Professor Jane Davies supervises MPhil individual research projects and MPhil dissertations, and is available to join a PhD advisory team.

Operations and Technology Management faculty

Learn more about the faculty that teach on this pathway.

Learn more about the Operations and Technology Management subject group