Summary

The aim of this project is to undertake an empirical investigation that will advance our understanding of leadership in the digital era so that the findings help impact the ways of developing leaders and leadership at organisational, regional and national levels. Technology, as a key driver for change, has rapidly impacted the way organisations operate, perform and function. Technology is driving changes in strategies, structures, and people, rather than the other way around.

On the one hand, new digital technologies, such as artificial intelligence, augmented reality, internet of things, virtual reality, deep learning, machine learning, cloud based tools, voice technology, smart devices, natural speech processing, and geolocation technology have opened up new possibilities in industries including healthcare, hospitality, manufacturing, education, transport and tourism.  These new digital transformations affect the ways of doing work, learning and development of employees, the leaders’ and followers’ roles in organisations across the globe.  We are better connected more than ever before, and our communications have become instant and hierarchies are being flattened in most organisations.  On the other hand, the tasks of managers and leaders in contemporary organisations have become more complex, interdependent, and volatile, because technology-driven change increases complexity.

Leaders are forced to create different organisational structures and connected work models; they have to rethink and sometimes replace many existing metrics and measures of performance (of their own and that of others).  They are required to demonstrate different type of leader behaviours, in terms of how they communicate and influence others, in the age of post truths, alternative truths and fake news, using tweets, snapchats and WhatsApp messages  (Hyacinth, 2017; Sainger, 2018; Auvinen et al. 2019; Schein and Schein, 2019).  They need to continuously learn to lead differently.

To help organisations succeed in this digital era, we need a new generation of leaders and leadership. We need leaders with a deeper awareness of how everything — technology, data, processes and people — fit and work together for shared purposes (Greengard, 2019).  We need leaders who are entrepreneurial (to move their organisations into unexplored territories), enablers (to equip people with capacity and capability) and architects (to design strategic vision and create learning culture) (Ancona, Backman and Isaacs, 2019).

Such leaders can positively influence, and contribute to improved ways of working at all levels by promoting cross-functional digital tools that are agile and inclusive (Kazim, 2019).  It is in this context, it becomes important that we need to better understand the various facets of leadership as a phenomenon.  Our knowledge of the nature and consequences of leadership in digital era could help developing leaders at all levels, so that the shared purposes are achieved in companies, societies and nations. Despite the scholarly advances found in the ever-growing leadership literature, several questions remain unanswered that provide exciting challenges to be addressed with future research.

This project requires applicants from diverse disciplines and fields, such as management, education, healthcare, tourism and transport, hospitality, media studies, engineering and computing, to name a few. Some of the interesting leadership questions that can be explored in this project are given in Appendix 1.

Download Appendix 1


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

    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 £15,285 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



The Doctoral College at Ulster University