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Strategic Management pathway

In simple terms, a strategy is the position or stance an organisation adopts to compete, survive and succeed in its environment. Strategic management is the conception, management and execution of this position. However, these seemingly simple definitions hide tremendous complexities. For example, how are strategies selected? Why do organisations end up with suboptimal strategies? How do managers recognise what resources to develop, which organisations to ally with (or acquire) and when? Why do organisations repeatedly overlook major strategic threats? How does the composition of a top management team determine the success or failure of a firm? What role do external stakeholders, such as analysts or traders, play in determining a firm's strategy? These and hundreds of other questions are what keep strategy scholars busy! 

In answering these important questions, strategy scholars often draw upon theories and insights from strategic management, economics, psychology, sociology, political science, anthropology and sometimes even the natural sciences. At Cambridge Judge Business School, there are two streams you can follow to obtain a PhD in Strategic Management. The two streams differ in terms of the theoretical perspectives they deploy as well as the methodological approaches.

Stream A is through either the MPhil in Strategy, Marketing & Operations (SMO) or the Master of Research (MRes). Stream B is through either the MPhil in Innovation, Strategy & Organisation (ISO) or the Master of Research (MRes).

Stream A

Strategic Management via the MPhil in Strategy, Marketing & Operations (SMO) or MRes

The stream that starts with the MPhil SMO or MRes builds on economic and behavioural theories to understand strategic management within corporations and firms. This stream focuses on issues that are of primary concern to senior managers. Building on diverse streams of economics, psychology and organisational behaviour, you are encouraged to pursue novel, insightful and thought provoking research questions that shed new light and change the theoretical conversation on how firms position themselves within their environment and how they successfully survive and succeed in increasingly complex and fast-changing business world. Some pertinent questions are:

  • How do senior managers make strategic choices?
  • How do they calibrate resources and capabilities, lead their organisations?
  • How do firms manage complex and diverse stakeholders to maximise their competitive advantage?
  • How do firms survive and succeed in varied business environments?
  • How does corporate governance (boards, ownership structure, and executive incentives) affect strategy and firm performance?
  • What constitutes effective board governance and board capital?

To answer these important research questions, this stream equips you with rigorous quantitative approaches such as econometrics, experiments and behavioural statistics. You can use mixed-methods to leverage the strengths of varied quantitative techniques and to enrich the insights gained through your studies.

Stream B

Strategic Management via the MPhil in Innovation, Strategy & Organisation (ISO) or MRes

Learn more about Stream B

The stream that begins with the MPhil ISO or MRes looks at strategy not simply as an outcome of a rational planning process, or as the primary explanation for firm success or failure, but also as a sociological phenomenon in its own right. Drawing upon a range of social sciences including sociology, economics, political science, anthropology and philosophy, this stream encourages you to study interesting empirical sites and break new theoretical ground in phenomena related directly or indirectly to strategy. This stream focuses on issues which are of importance to senior managers as well as those that are significant to a broad range of stakeholders in a firm's environment. You are encouraged to formulate novel questions related to strategy and organisations. Beyond the usual strategy questions, we also examine broader issues such as (but not limited to):

  • How do institutional entrepreneurs create new markets and legitimise new technologies, products or services?
  • How are organisations socially and politically embedded in their environments? What role do they play in addressing fundamental global social challenges of poverty, climate change, and inequality? What new organisational forms and business models need to be explored?
  • How does the macro environment and the institutional context impact strategy and vice versa?
  • How do new categories (e.g. impact investing) arise? How do these impact firm level strategies?

This stream allows a variety of qualitative methodological approaches including grounded theory, case studies, ethnography discourse analysis, and other methodological techniques. It also allows for mixed method studies, though if you are interested in a primarily quantitative study you should consider joining the methodology courses in Stream A, which will equip you with cutting edge quantitative methods and techniques.