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Stream A: Strategic Management

via the MPhil in Strategy, Marketing & Operations or MRes

There are people who are really good managers, people who can manage a big organisation, and then there are people who are very focused on strategy. Those two types don't usually tend to be in the same person. I would put myself much more in the latter camp.
Mark Zuckerberg, Co-Founder of Facebook

Stream A starts with an MPhil in Strategy, Marketing and Operations (SMO) or a Master of Research (MRes). This stream brings together theories from the diverse fields of economics, psychology and organisational behaviour to understand strategic management within corporations and firms and to understand issues that are of primary concern to senior managers. 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. This stream adopts rigorous quantitative approaches such as econometrics, experiments and behavioural statistics to investigate these important firm-level strategy issues.

What is strategic management?

Strategic management, or simply strategy, deals with those subjects that are of primary concern to senior management, such as charting the future direction of a firm, making strategic decisions that have long-term impact and affect the firm as a whole, creating the appropriate infrastructure to implement these decisions and managing stakeholder relationships. It addresses the resources, capabilities and strategic positioning that a firm needs in order to create and sustain its competitive advantage and maximise its long-term performance.

Some pertinent questions are: 

  • How do senior managers make strategic choices? 
  • How do they calibrate resources and capabilities and lead their organizations? 
  • How do firms manage complex and diverse networks of stakeholders to maximize their competitive advantage?
  • How do firms survive and succeed in varied business environments?

What are faculty research interests?

Faculty members affiliated to Stream A of Strategic Management publish extensively in leading international academic journals, serve as associate editors and editorial board members of top journals and are featured regularly in media around the world. Their research interests are broad and span a range of topics, including:

  • Top management: How do the demographics, personalities, values and beliefs of CEOs and top management teams shape strategic behaviours? Which industry and organisational factors determine the types of executive profiles needed to gain competitive superiority through innovation, flexibility and adaptation to environments?
  • Competitive dynamics: How do firms outperform rivals? What are the sources of competitive advantage? 
  • Resources and capabilities: How do firms develop new resources and capabilities or combine existing resources in unique ways to create value and gain sustainable advantage in the marketplace?
  • Mergers and acquisitions and strategic alliances: What are the drivers of corporate strategies such as mergers and acquisitions and strategic alliances? What are the drivers of success and failure for these strategies?
  • International business: What are the approaches that multinational enterprises (MNEs) use to gain global leadership? How do the unique cultural, institutional and competitive environments in different countries enable or hinder firms' international strategies?
  • Corporate governance: What constitutes effective board governance and board capital? What are key complementarities and tensions in CEO and board human/social capital combinations? How do firms' board governance and ownership structures impact the CEO and executive succession choices, strategic choices, and value creation?

Faculty members investigate these important questions by employing a variety of research design approaches, including large-scale surveys, archival data, lab and natural experiments and mixed approaches that combine these methods.

Learn more about our supervising faculty's research interests

Yasemin Kor Professor Yasemin Kor is the Beckwith Professor of Management Studies. She studies (1) Managerial competencies and executive human and social capital, (2) Board of directors, board capital and corporate governance effectiveness, and (3) Firm strategic renewal, competency development, firm renewal and innovation. She enjoys doing research both on large corporations and entrepreneurial firms. She has done industry-based research on firms in medical devices industry, biotechnology industry, professional services (law firms), food and beverage industry (conventional and organic food producers), transportation industry, and on social ventures.
Sucheta Nadkarni Sucheta Nadkarni is the Sinyi Professor and Head of the Strategy & International Business group. Her research interests lie in two broad areas: (1) Strategic leadership: she explores the "people side of strategy" by seeking to answer questions such as how do CEOs and top management teams shape key strategic behaviours such as innovation, corporate entrepreneurship and strategic flexibility? Which industry and organisational factors determine the types of executive profiles needed to gain competitive superiority through innovation, flexibility and adaptation to environments? (2) Competitive dynamics: She investigates questions such as: how do firms outperform rivals? What are the sources of competitive advantage? What role does language play in intensifying competitive wars?

What you can expect from the PhD pathway in Strategic Management (Stream A)

There are several distinguishing features that make the PhD programme at Cambridge Judge Business School unique. Stream A has been designed to prepare students to conduct independent, high-calibre quantitative research in strategic management and pursue an academic career as a faculty member at a major university. 

  • Rigorous academic training: We work with you to develop an integrated and coherent programme of study that includes intensive seminars and workshops. Students receive funds to attend cutting-edge and highly specialised quantitative or mixed research methods workshops offered by renowned scholars at other institutions. Stream A will train you in the latest quantitative research methods and emerging thinking in strategic management. 
  • Close research collaborations: The core feature of the programme is the close collaboration between our faculty members and doctoral students. You will work with the faculty on joint research projects for presentation at top international conferences and for publication in leading academic journals. Our faculty members maintain research collaborations with students long after they have graduated.
  • Highly selective and global: The programme is highly selective. You will interact closely with outstanding fellow PhD students who represent a wide variety of professional backgrounds, nationalities and ethnicities.
  • Connections with renowned scholars and schools around the world: You can interact closely and collaborate with leading strategy scholars from around the world through our active research seminars and renowned visiting scholar programmes. The school supports students to spend part of their PhD time at a strategic management department at a top school. Our students have spent time at renowned institutions such as MIT, UC Berkeley, Columbia, Wharton, Darden and Michigan as a part of the PhD programme.
  • Deep engagement approach: The hallmark of the PhD programme at CJBS is the combination of high standards of academic rigour and strong practical relevance to the business world. We will help you engage with organisations directly to gain access to unique data and rich insights on key strategy problems facing organisations. This engagement will help you shed new light on ongoing academic debates, and this synergy of rigour and relevance is what makes the PhD programme at CJBS unique.
  • State-of-the-art facilities and infrastructure: You will have access to comprehensive research databases, the latest software and computer equipment and a fully equipped behavioural lab.

What we expect from our PhD students

Strategic Management (Stream A) is highly selective and globally diverse. We welcome outstanding applicants with degrees from a variety of disciplines, including business, economics, mathematics, engineering, psychology and the physical sciences and humanities.

Applicants will have earned a bachelors degree (and in some cases a masters degree) from a highly regarded university and performed within the top five per cent of their class. Please see the MPhil SMO academic requirements or the MRes academic requirements for further details. We expect our students to demonstrate a high level of commitment to an academic career in a business school as well as a desire to engage with external organisations.

We will need to see evidence of excellent writing skills and strong evidence of your quantitative ability, either through high grades in calculus and linear algebra courses at university level or through GRE results. Practical management experience is welcome but not essential.

The Strategy & International Business group boasts expertise on a wide variety of topics ranging from business strategy and organisation theory to regional clusters and national competitiveness.

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