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Funded PhD Opportunity

Leveraging resources within clusters: Understanding firm and network level development

Subject: Business and Management Studies


Summary

The importance of industry clusters for economic development and competitiveness is widely acknowledged (Spencer, 2010;Lucena-Piquero and Vicente, 2019). Porter (1998) describes a cluster as a geographically proximate group of interconnected firms. Research has identified the wide-ranging value clusters can have for both SMEs and wider regional competitiveness. For example, clusters facilitate the sharing of knowledge and diffusion of best practices. Geographical concentration leads to the attraction of high quality talent, suppliers and research institutes which all leads to ease of co-ordination between firms within a value chain. Clusters also stimulate co-opetition, which can lead to innovation. Furthermore, research has found that clusters create opportunities for new products, services and company development (Lee, 2018; Vestal and Daneels, 2018).

Consequently, the development of clusters within regions is high on policy agenda across the globe. Despite widely accessible examples of successful clustering activity e.g. Silicon Valley, the development and management of clusters requires alignment with a regions particular endowments, sector strengths, demand conditions, culture, firm level strategy and policy supports. Therefore much remains to be known on how clusters can best be designed and managed within different regional contexts (Le, 2018; Fromhold-Eisebeth and Eisebeth 2018; Lucena-Piquero and Vicente, 2019).

Furthermore research is needed on how clusters are different from and can complement other collaborative networks within regions and how they can fit within the wider entrepreneurial ecosystems. Clusters are often evaluated in quantitative terms, however, less is known on how clusters develop skills and capabilities at both the firm and network level that will have long lasting impact on the behaviours and strategic direction of organisations within a cluster. This research aims to extend knowledge in this area by exploring how resources can be leveraged within clusters to develop both firm and network capability development. To achieve this, a qualitative study will be conducted where at least four clusters across the Island of Ireland will be explored.

This research will first identify how the different clusters have developed, have been designed and are managed, identifying a typology of cluster development across Ireland. Second, this research will shed new insights into the antecedents and challenges of firm and network level capability development within clusters. Heterogeneous interviews will be conducted with different entities and actors associated with the clusters (eg. Cluster SMEs, large firms, research organisations, trade associations and government bodies). Furthermore, focus groups will be held with regional stakeholders in a ‘think tank’ format to identify ways of improving cluster development and effectiveness. This research has support of Invest Northern Ireland, who are currently dedicating resources to develop clustering activity within Northern Ireland. Furthermore, existing networks exist with clusters in the Republic of Ireland across Europe which identifies the potential for a cross country comparison study.


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 Kristel Miller


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