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The Operations & Technology Management Specialisation

What is operations & technology management?

Chief Operating Officers (COOs) are responsible for 'getting things done' - for coordinating people, information and resources within and outside an organisation to achieve the organisation's goals. Marketing promises quality to customers, finance promises return on investment to shareholders - the COO is responsible for keeping these promises. Organisations that excel at getting desirable things done quickly, efficiently and effectively, while responding to developing technology, changing customer needs and shifts in the competitive and regulatory landscape take a leading position in their industry.  

To achieve operational excellence, organisations need reliable internal processes, they need an effective ecosystem of external partners, and they need ways to generate and leverage new ideas. In a nutshell, the academic discipline Operations and Technology Management (OTM) is concerned with the study of the fundamental principles that underlie the design and management of organisational processes, reliable partnerships, and intra- and inter-organisational innovation capabilities.  

The field is diverse and inherently multi-disciplinary, drawing on and applying insights from economics, operations research, industrial engineering, psychology and sociology. In addition, OTM research has overlaps with other organisational functions, such as strategy, marketing, organisational development, and financial management.

All faculty members in the OTM subject group are committed to rigorous and impactful research. We leverage long-standing relationships with other research groups at Cambridge Judge Business School and the wider University, with academic partners and PhD students at other universities around the world, as well as with a range of organisations in the private and public sectors.

You can find more information on the research in the group on the faculty webpages of the Operations & Technology Management subject group.

The modules

The typical course of study for the OTM specialisation of the MPhil in Strategy, Marketing & Operations includes:

Introduction to Operations & Technology Management Research

This course consists of two equally weighted parts. In the first part, you are introduced to mathematical modelling paradigms. Mathematical modelling is a core "language" of the field and many of its insights are captured succinctly in mathematical formulae or propositions. It is therefore important for you to become conversant. The goals of the first part of the Introduction module are (i) to enable you to appreciate the gist, if not the detail, of modelling papers in the OTM literature and (ii) to introduce you to the mathematical modelling language at a level that enables you to learn more details from textbooks or take more advanced graduate courses in the university if and when required for your own research. This first part of the module is a natural methodological complement to the econometrics modules of the MPhil programme, which cover empirical methods.

The second part of this module teaches you how to write a convincing OTM research proposal with the goal of developing an academic paper for publication in a peer-reviewed journal of the field. What makes a good research question? What is a suitable research method for the question at hand? How does the proposed research relate to management practice? How does it relate to and extend the existing academic literature? You explore these questions using published papers as case studies, and you practice the writing and presenting of research proposals, which will prepare you for the PhD continuation process. This second part of the module also teaches you how to read and evaluate academic papers in an efficient manner and what distinguishes OTM papers from papers in cognate disciplines (e.g. economics or marketing).

Classics of Operations & Technology Management Research

The Classics module introduces you to landmark papers and books that have shaped the OTM field. The purpose of the module is to enable you to position your own research within the existing body of literature. We take a broad view of the OTM field and also cover aspects of cognate fields (industrial engineering, economics, sociology, psychology) that are relevant to current debates in OTM.

Advanced Topics in Operations & Technology Management Research

The purpose of the Advanced Topics module is to teach you how to write a referee report on a peer's paper. While the Classics of OTM Research module introduces the literature with a broad brush, to enable you to position your work within this literature, this course teaches you how to dissect an individual paper with a sharp knife, sentence by sentence. The focus is on being critical about the significance of the contribution that the paper offers to the OTM field and about the robustness and generality of the paper's methodology. This requires judgement and this course allows you to practice this judgement. Faculty share their own refereeing experience (both as authors and referees) with you. Alongside "clinical dissection" sessions of working papers, the course contain sessions on advanced methodology, to improve your knowledge of OTM methodology. After the course, you will be better able to take a critical view of your own papers and offer constructive criticism to your peers' research, relative to the standard applied by the leading journals in the field.

Fundamentals of Competitive Markets

You are introduced to the foundations necessary to conduct research in the three areas of marketing, operations & technology management, and finance, with a view to developing your own skills as researchers in these areas and in business in general. This course covers standard models of:

  • individual choice under certainty and uncertainty
  • production theory
  • general equilibrium
  • monopoly pricing, price discrimination
  • information economics
  • behavioural economics

The course gives you some fundamental knowledge of competitive markets, enabling you to leverage your course knowledge to do original research and write papers in your chosen field of research in a business school.

Econometrics I

This course introduces you to the variety of quantitative research methods available for applied research in management and economics, providing you with sufficient background to choose techniques and methods suited to different data-sources and models. The focus is on the way techniques relate to theory, and on the insights that can be drawn from their application. We are concerned with the interpretation and appraisal of results, and emphasise applied work.

Topics covered include:

  • The paradigm: underlying "structure" and "true" models of phenomena
  • Probability distributions
  • Descriptive statistics
  • Estimators and their properties
  • Testing hypothesis
  • Confidence intervals
  • Simple and multiple regression
  • Properties of regression coefficients
  • Transformation of variables
  • Linearity, nonlinearity and categorical variables
  • Simultaneous equations
  • Time series models
  • Stationary and nonstationary processes
  • Estimation

Econometrics II

Given the extensive availability and use of individual-level data sources for applied quantitative analysis, it has become increasingly important to understand the techniques available in applied research, their relation to theory, and what insights can be drawn from the estimation of models.

Many of these methods move beyond the standard tools of econometric analysis, in order to exploit the richness or structure of large sources of either cross-section or longitudinal data, or to compensate for some partial observability of data, or to build complexities in decision-making into an empirical study.

This course provides you with sufficient background to choose techniques suited both to the data-source and the model. There is an emphasis on the interpretation and critical appraisal of estimates, as well as on applied work, exploiting the availability of computer techniques for solutions.

Topics covered include:

  • Binary choice
  • Multiple choice and ordered response models
  • Limited dependent variable techniques
  • Duration and survival models
  • Panel data estimation methods
  • Nonparametric and semiparametric regression methods
  • Count data models

You must have taken the Econometrics I course if you wish to take this course.

Organisational Research Methods

This course helps you understand a variety of quantitative research methods, as well as their embeddedness within various research designs. Upon completion of the course, you'll have a good understanding of various quantitative methods commonly used in management research, and will have applied this knowledge to your own research project. Specifically, the course covers the following content areas: 

  • Research design
  • Experimental & quasi-experimental design
  • Survey design & analysis
  • Mediation & moderation
  • Multilevel analysis
  • Social network analysis
  • Meta-analysis

The objectives of this course are to increase your understanding of organisational research method and your sensitivity to the practical problems in conducting organisational research, as well as to apply organisational research methods to your own research projects and interests.

one of the following two courses, depending on year:

Game Theory & Information Economics (2018/19)

This course is for students who wish to pursue a research career in a business school and consists of a mix of lectures and seminar-based sessions in which you read, analyse and comment on selected papers. Following the course, you'll be able to leverage your course knowledge to do original research and write papers in your chosen field of research.

Topics covered include:

  • Static games of complete information (normal form games)

    • Modelling strategic interactions
    • Iterated dominance and rationalisability
    • Nash equilibrium
    • Application: imperfect competition
    • Mixed strategies

  • Dynamic games of complete information (extensive form games)

    • Extensive form and Nash equilibrium
    • Subgame perfect equilibrium
    • Application: product differentiation
    • Repeated games and one-step deviation

  • Static games of incomplete information

    • Motivation
    • Bayesian Nash equilibrium

  • Dynamic games of incomplete information

    • Perfect Bayesian equilibrium
    • Signalling

Quantitative Marketing Models (2019/20)

This seminar-based course is an overview of quantitative modelling approaches to research on marketing problems. Three major areas are covered:

  • empirical modelling (econometrics)
  • analytical modelling (game theory/industrial organisation)
  • experimental economics/behavioural game theory

In each session you're required to read, analyse and comment on selected papers surrounding the key themes of that session. At least half of every session will be devoted to student presentations and group discussion. Having completed the course, you'll possess some basic knowledge of quantitative modelling in marketing. You'll also be able to leverage your course experience to develop an in-depth understanding of relevant topics of interest that'll help you pursue a research career in a business school.

one of the following two courses:

Further Econometrics: Time Series

The Time Series Econometrics module is intended to provide applicable, if introductory knowledge of time series analysis methods. An increasing number of empirical contexts in Finance and Management now have data in the form of time series. The statistics and modelling of time series data will be very useful in any researcher's toolkit.

Individual Research Project

This module is designed for you to conduct individual research under the supervision of SMO faculty members. Research projects can consist of a thorough literature review related to a specific research question, an in-depth critique of published papers, or a specific application of a research methodology (such as a pilot study on the basis of limited data). Our goal is to familiarise you with the faculty members' current research and bring you closer to the frontier of knowledge. The module can prepare you for the individual research that you will undertake in PhD studies, and can indeed become the starting point of future PhD research.

You are expected to determine your coursework plan at the start of the academic year, upon consultation with the programme director and the faculty representative of the OTM specialisation. In particular, your coursework modules can deviate from the above lists and can be selected from other research courses offered by CJBS or other University of Cambridge departments, upon approval by the programme director.

Closing dates

Deadline for applications: 28 Jun 2018
However we recommend you apply before December.

Cambridge Trusts funding deadlines are 11 October for Gates US applicants, 6 December for applicants from all other countries.

Cambridge MPhil in Strategy, Marketing & Operations alumnus Charles Ebert explains what drew him to the programme.

Watch the video


There are a number of scholarships available to MPhil in SMO students, ranging from University of Cambridge and College scholarships to corporate research funding.

Find out more about scholarships