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Funded PhD Opportunity

Operational intellectual capital configurations and their impact on innovation and operational performance

Subject: Business and Management Studies


Summary

Manufacturing and service operations have long been tested by an abundance of internal and external challenges and uncertainties in their operating environments. The legacy of the latest financial crisis and increasing pressure from low-cost competition has forced many companies to respond by focusing more on the Operational Intellectual Capital (OIC): human capital, structural capital and social capital, to enhance their operations and develop their innovation capabilities (Cohen et al. 2014; Onofrei et al. 2019; Zhang et al. 2019).

The services sector, by its very nature, has relatively few assets that are tangible, and therefore much of its success is related to the ability to effectively manage and develop the value of their intangible assets (Menor and Roth 2008; Ettlie and Rosenthal 2011); whereas, in the manufacturing sector, increased globalisation and plant movements to low-income countries has meant that organisations need to use their OIC strategically to generate specialised outputs to compete globally from a small, open economy (Cotter 2004; Ettlie and Rosenthal 2011). Taking the theoretical lens of the knowledge-based view (KBV) (Grant 1996), OIC represents the intangible assets (the knowledge resources, information, experiences, skills, structures, culture and relationships) of a firm which, through their synergies, create competitiveness and innovativeness.

The aim of this research, is to explore the implications of the operational (OIC) for operations and asks how can companies leverage their OIC in order to increase their operational performance and innovation capabilities? The research objectives include: To develop a framework for conceptualising operational intellectual capital dimensions (human capital, structural capital and social capital), operational performance and innovation capabilities; to evaluate the impact of OIC dimensions on operational performance and innovation capabilities and; to evaluate how organisations can leverage their OIC investments to enhance their desired performance objectives.

By means of a positivist, deductive approach (Saunders et al. 2015), the researcher will use data collected through a questionnaire developed in line with previous studies in the field (Ahmad and Schroeder 2003; Kang et al. 2012; Onofrei et al. 2019) and distributed to manufacturing and service organisations throughout the island of Ireland. The data will be tested for reliability and validity and structural equation modelling will be used to assess the measurement model (Roberts et al. 2010). Given the increased dependence of firms on their intangible assets (Rammal et al. 2014), this study seeks to contribute to existing OIC knowledge and literature by providing insights into the configurations of OIC dimensions (human capital, operational and social capital) and proposes the OIC framework as a useful mechanism that can enable companies to improve their operational performance and innovation capabilities. The findings of this research will inform and support Irish companies in their pursuit of competitive advantage.


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 September 2020


Applying

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Contact supervisor

Professor Paul Humphreys


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