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Funded PhD Opportunity

Supply Chain Transparency: Creating sustainable and trust-based supply chains through the application of blockchain technologies

Subject: Business and Management Studies


Summary

The lack of transparency in supply chains, popularised by recent scandals, such as the horse meat scandal, child labour exploitation, and unethical uses of rainforest resources have caused immense waves within society (Francisco and Swanson, 2018). Investigating new ways and techniques to increase transparency within supply chains is receiving increasing attention in the supply chain and logistics domain, with practitioners and academics alike all wrestling with finding the best ways to resolve.

A promising development in the practitioner literature suggests that the supply chain of the future will be self-thinking and supported through developments in ICT (Calatayud et al, (2019). Such technological developments have the potential to allow supply chains to be autonomous and have predictive capabilities, thus increasing transparency, trust and efficiency gains in an increasingly complex and uncertain climate. Distributed Ledger Technologies (DLT), such as blockchain is one such technology that is receiving increased attention.

Blockchain technology entered the academic and practitioner literature through the world-famous Bitcoin cryptocurrency, characterised by being an open-source, decentralized, distributed database for storing transactional data and information. The key benefit being the removal of intermediaries, such as banks. The technology allows two parties to transact directly using duplicates and linked ledgers known as blockchains. The result being that transactions are much more transparent, traceable and trust based than transactions stored within intermediaries ‘black boxes’ (centralised systems).

Each transaction is executed without the need for a third party, but on the ‘distributed’ trust of participants in the network (i.e., other blockchain users) (Calatayud et al, (2019). Anyone in the network can trace the transactions, including who added the information, when and where at any stage from the beginning of the blockchain. Having the ability to apply this technology to a range of supply chain issues has much potential. Asides from adding trust, traceability and transparency in traditional manufacturing and service supply chains, having such a technology available could have huge positive supply chain consequences in relation to a range of environmental, economic and societal issues, such as resolving child labour exploitation, deforestation, climate change issues, and disaster recovery projects mentioned earlier.

Unfortunately, despite many academics (Calatayud et al, (2019); Francisco and Swanson, 2018; Sanders et al, 2019) calling for increased research into the application of blockchain technologies within supply chain management, there is a dearth of research available.

This study has significant opportunities to address these challenges and provide significant benefits across a range of supply chain issues. Distributed Ledger Technologies (DLT), such as blockchain and predictive analytics can be tailored towards storing records throughout the life of a product or service. The transparent, decentralised, verifiable, high levels of integrity and non-reputative recordkeeping will transform supply chains.

This project will adopt a combination of research methodologies, including primary and secondary data. Primary data will be exploratory and theory development in nature with a view to developing a robust testable framework that can be applied and disseminated across supply chain issues in order to increase sustainability and trust.


Essential criteria

  • To hold, or expect to achieve by 15 August, an Upper Second Class Honours (2:1) Degree or equivalent from a UK institution (or overseas award deemed to be equivalent via UK NARIC) in a related or cognate field.
  • A comprehensive and articulate personal statement
  • Research proposal of 2000 words detailing aims, objectives, milestones and methodology of the project
  • A demonstrable interest in the research area associated with the studentship

Desirable Criteria

If the University receives a large number of applicants for the project, the following desirable criteria may be applied to shortlist applicants for interview.

  • Masters at 65%
  • Research project completion within taught Masters degree or MRES

Funding

    The University offers the following awards to support PhD study and applications are invited from UK, EU and overseas for the following levels of support:

    Vice Chancellors Research Studentship (VCRS)

    Full award (full-time PhD fees + DfE level of maintenance grant + RTSG for 3 years).

    This scholarship will cover full-time PhD tuition fees and provide the recipient with £15,000 maintenance grant per annum for three years (subject to satisfactory academic performance). This scholarship also comes with £900 per annum for three years as a research training support grant (RTSG) allocation to help support the PhD researcher.

    Vice-Chancellor’s Research Bursary (VCRB)

    Part award (full-time PhD fees + 50% DfE level of maintenance grant + RTSG for 3 years).

    This scholarship will cover full-time PhD tuition fees and provide the recipient with £7,500 maintenance grant per annum for three years (subject to satisfactory academic performance). This scholarship also comes with £900 per annum for three years as a research training support grant (RTSG) allocation to help support the PhD researcher.

    Vice-Chancellor’s Research Fees Bursary (VCRFB)

    Fees only award (PhD fees + RTSG for 3 years).

    This scholarship will cover full-time PhD tuition fees for three years (subject to satisfactory academic performance). This scholarship also comes with £900 per annum for three years as a research training support grant (RTSG) allocation to help support the PhD researcher.

    Department for the Economy (DFE)

    The scholarship will cover tuition fees at the Home rate and a maintenance allowance of £ 15,009 per annum for three years. EU applicants will only be eligible for the fee’s component of the studentship (no maintenance award is provided). For Non-EU nationals the candidate must be "settled" in the UK. This scholarship also comes with £900 per annum for three years as a research training support grant (RTSG) allocation to help support the PhD researcher.

    Due consideration should be given to financing your studies; for further information on cost of living etc. please refer to: www.ulster.ac.uk/doctoralcollege/postgraduate-research/fees-and-funding/financing-your-studies


Other information


The Doctoral College at Ulster University

Key dates

Submission deadline
Friday 7 February 2020

Interview Date
9, 10, 19 March 2020


Applying

Apply Online  


Contact supervisor

Dr Trevor Cadden


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