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Stream A: Strategic Management

via the MPhil in Strategy, Marketing & Operations or Master of Research (MRes)

Stream A starts with an MPhil in Strategy, Marketing & Operations (SMO) or a Master of Research (MRes). This stream brings together theories from the diverse fields of strategy, economics, psychology and organisational behaviour to understand strategic management within corporations and to study 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 and behavioural statistics to investigate these important firm-level strategy issues.

Essential reading

The Strategic Management (Stream A) PhD pathway

Download detailed information about the nine-month + four-year programme structure & content.

To start on the Strategic Management (Stream A) pathway you must take one of the following nine-month masters programmes:

Research areas

Strategic management, or simply strategy, deals with  subjects that are of primary concern to CEOs and senior executives, such as charting the future direction of the company, deciding its competitive and corporate strategy, creating the appropriate infrastructure to implement  and manage stakeholder relationships. It addresses the resources, capabilities and strategic positioning that a firm needs to create and sustain its competitive advantage and boost its long-term performance.

Some pertinent questions are:

  • How do firms survive and thrive in dynamic and unpredictable competitive environments?
  • How do senior managers make strategic decisions in temporary and agile organisations?
  • How do executives calibrate firm-level resources and capabilities and lead their organisations? 
  • How do market categories – a set of firms that share cognitive and cultural similarities – affect the social evaluation, the innovation and performance of organisations? How does corporate governance (e.g. board of directors and ownership structure) influence strategy and firm performance?
  • How do firms manage a complex and diverse network of stakeholders? How do they manage the tensions between shareholder value creation and a stakeholder approach to value creation?

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 does the experience profile, values and beliefs, and cognitive orientations of CEOs and senior executives, shape strategic choices? Which industry and organisational factors determine the types of executive profiles needed to gain competitive advantage 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.

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.

You will be allocated a principal supervisor within your pathway. A senior academic, often a Professor or Associate Professor, they will guide you through the programme, help you to succeed in the job market and assist you in gaining a faculty position at a leading business school. Your principal supervisor will take an active role in your research programme. During the PhD, they will assemble a group of faculty (your advisory committee), and members of this team will co-author papers with you.

For this pathway, view the research interests of these faculty that may serve as principal supervisor:

Allègre Hadida.

Dr Allègre Hadida

Not available to take incoming PhD students in October 2023.

Allègre Hadida researches strategy and decision-making in volatile environments, with a particular interest in creative, arts and media industries and organisations. Other research interests include: temporary and project-based organisations; integration of new technologies, including digital content production and broadcast, in traditional arts organisations; roles and resources in cinema; gender and racial labour discrimination; creativity and improvisation in business.

Yasemin Kor.

Professor Yasemin Kor

Yasemin Kor researches the intersections of strategy formulation and renewal, top management teams, and corporate governance. She studies strategy as a configuration of resources and capabilities that are uniquely assembled to achieve a purpose. In her research, she examines how organisations differ in ways in which they manage and govern their resources and capabilities. One of her current projects focuses on the organic food industry and examines how firms respond to the organic opportunity based on the CEO’s experience profile, including enriching experiences of the CEO. In another project, she examines the role of the independent board chair in achieving effective board governance. She enjoys doing research both on large corporations and entrepreneurial firms.

Christopher Marquis.

Professor Christopher Marquis

Professor Marquis’s research is broadly focused on the two areas of social innovation and change and doing business in China. Under these themes he has examined entrepreneurship in China, the triple-bottom line and building sustainable businesses globally, and business competition in emerging markets. These research projects build on Marquis’s earlier research on how business can have a positive impact on society and in particular how historical and geographical processes have shaped firms’ and entrepreneurs’ social and environmental strategies and activities. His latest book, Better Business: How the B Corp Movement Is Remaking Capitalism, focuses on the potential for stakeholder governance models to reform capitalism.

Lionel Paolella.

Dr Lionel Paolella

Lionel Paolella researches strategy and economic sociology; organisation theory; categorisation; social evaluation; gender diversity. Lionel’s main line of research explores how market categories – a set of firms that share cognitive and cultural similarities – affect the social evaluation, the innovation and performance of organisations. He mainly uses quantitative methods.

Learn more about the faculty that teach on this pathway