PhD in International Business and Strategy

PhD in International Business and Strategy


For over 50 years we have stood at the forefront of teaching and research in International Business and we continue to help define the research agenda in the field as well as in International Business History and International Human Resource Management. High quality teaching spans a broad range of programmes and focuses on critical developments in international business and strategy and organisations’ strategic response to these.

Henley provides a unique opportunity to undertake original business relevant research in International Business and Strategy and to develop your critical thinking, intellectual capacity and creativity. Our postgraduate research students, drawn from all over the world, benefit from a dynamic research environment, supervision from internationally-renouned faculty, dedicated support and outstanding facilities.

As a part of the PhD in International Business and Strategy, we offer the Henley International Business Masterclasses. We provide these intensive courses on current debates and conceptual issues in International Business to give broader learning opportunities to younger scholars. Each masterclass offers the opportunity to engage in key International Business topics taught by notable intellectual figures in the field.

Henley Business School’s research in International Business and Strategy is driven through leading centres that are at the forefront of research, including the John H. Dunning Centre for International Business and the Centre for International Business History.

We welcome applicants seeking to conduct postgraduate research in the following fields:

· Business History

· International Business

· International Human Resource Management

· Strategy

PhD Degree Structure

A PhD is usually taken on a full-time basis over 3 years. On a full-time basis the PhD programme starts at the beginning of the academic year (late September -early October). A team of two faculty members is assigned to supervise each student. Supervisors are selected based on their expertise in the research topic chosen by the candidate. To offer the best experience to students, occasionally supervisors may be identified outside the International Business and Strategy unit or Henley Business School.

At the end of the first year, students will submit a research proposal that will be defended in front of the faculty members and will be assessed by an independent internal examiner. The process will coincide with the confirmation of registration and, if successful, it will grant the student the status of PhD candidate.

PhD students will then continue working on their research project and then submit their thesis at the end of the programme to be judged by a panel of internal and external examiners at an oral examination or ‘viva’.

The PhD degree is awarded after successful completion of a programme of research training and a piece of original research.

Detailed Schedule of Typical Activities of a PhD Candidate in International Business and Strategy

Year 1

During your first year of studies, you will be required to:-

· pass at least 60 credits from PhD/masters level courses in Research Methods and other modules required for your area of concentration. The basic structure (subject to modifications agreed with PhD supervisors and director, based on a Learning Needs Analysis) of taught modules is the following:-

Term 1 (September-December)

· Introduction to Thesis Literature Review module (delivered by Professor Peter Scott)

· Workshops on

· Introduction to qualitative methods

· Introduction to quantitative methods

· International Business Masterclasses on

· Economics of International Business (delivered by Professor Mark Casson)

· Strategy and International Business (delivered by Professor Alain Verbeke)

Terms 2 and 3 (January-July)

· Advanced Qualitative Methods (delivered by Dr Evelyn Fenton)

· Advanced Quantitative Methods (delivered by Dr Maks Belitski)

· International Business Masterclasses on

· International Business, Development and Policy (delivered by Professor Rajneesh Narula)

· International Business, Innovation and Economic Geography (delivered by Professor Davide Castellani)

· International Human Resource Management (delivered by Professor Chris Brewster and Dr Chul Chung)

· Long-run developments in International Business (delivered by Professor Robert Pearce and Professor Marina Papanastassiou)

· attend some short courses (2-3 hours each) required for the Reading Researcher Development Programme at the Graduate School

· present the progress of your research at the Annual PhD Review in front of faculty members

· participate in the weekly IBS research seminars and other research seminars offered by other Schools/Departments and relevant to your research area

· organise periodic meetings with your supervisor(s).

Year 2, 3 (and above)

During your further years of studies you will:

· continue to work on your PhD dissertation

· hold periodic meetings with your supervisor(s)

· attend some short courses (2-3 hours each) required for the the Reading Researcher Development Programme at the Graduate School

· participate in the weekly IBS research seminars and other research seminars offered by other Schools/Departments and relevant to your research area

· contribute to teaching and research activities (if recipient of a Studentship)

· present the progress of your research at the Annual PhD Review in front of faculty members.

Application Process

Applications are made online. We are pleased to receive and consider them on a rolling basis throughout the year, but you should keep in mind the following:-

Key Dates

· Deadline for studentship applications for the academic year 2019/20 is 15 June 2019.

· Academic year starts at the end of September/early October.

Entry Requirements

· A Masters degree, preferably achieved with distinction.

· We welcome applications from students holding international qualifications. The University uses independently published guidelines, recognised within the UK higher education sector, when considering the equivalence of overseas qualifications

· Applicants whose first language is not English will normally be required to achieve one of a number of English Language qualifications approved by the University. The normal entry standard is a score of 7 on the IELTS (International Language Testing System) test.

· Originals of English Language certificates will be required except where there are online verification facilities eg IELTS and TOEFL. English Language certificates will not be accepted if they are more than two years old.

Research Proposal

A key element of the application is the research proposal, which must clearly outline a topic to research and identify where it links to the expertise available in the International Business and Strategy unit. It is important that the applicant spends some time exploring the research that we are involved in and whether their own research is likely to fit alongside this.

A summary of the research interests of International Business and Strategy staff is provided below.



International Business

Strategies of international firms; Firm-specific resources and capabilities as drivers of firm’s competitive advantage; Global Value Chains.

Dr Elena Beleska-Spasova

Theories of MNE; Economic analysis of supply chains.

Professor Mark Casson

Firms’ internationalisation choices, innovation, and economic performances; MNEs location decisions; MNEs and the cities.

Professor Davide Castellani

International Entrepreneurship, born global, international new venture, export performance of small-and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), export strategy, international opportunity development

Dr Stephan Gerschewski

The role of nationality and international experience at MNE headquarters and top management teams; composition of management teams; internationalization strategies and performance.

Dr Peder Greve

International management; staffing strategy; knowledge management; Regional diversification; Headquarters and subsidiary relationships; Emerging market MNEs

Dr Jongmin Lee

The role of MNEs in development, innovation and industrial policy; R&D alliances; Outsourcing.

Professor Rajneesh Narula

Multinational subsidiary strategy and performance.

Dr Quyen Nguyen

Strategies of MNEs (location, entry mode choice, divestment and re-entry) in foreign markets, globalization of R&D and technology development in the global network of MNEs, digital technologies, Industry 4.0 and restructuring of GVCs, internationalisation (and de-internationalisation) strategies of family firms.

Lucia Piscitello

Foreign market exit and re-entry choices such as foreign market re-entry modes and the timing of exit/re-entry; organisational learning and unlearning and its effect on exit and re-entry; the effect of institutional change on internationalisation choices; the rise of EMNEs; the growing role of behavioural theories such as prospect theory in explaining international diversification choices.
Dr Irina Surdu

Internalization theory and its applications to a wide variety of international business phenomena, such as the internationalization of family firms, the creation of subsidiary specific advantage, the impact of regional integration on entry mode choices, the growth of emerging economy multinational enterprises, the rise of international new ventures.

Professor Alain Verbeke

International Human Resource Management

Comparative HRM; comparative capitalisms and HRM; international HRM; expatriation; international careers; migration, refugees.

Professor Chris Brewster

International HRM strategy of MNE’s; transferring HRM practice across countries in MNEs; knowledge creation and sharing in MNEs: International experiences and subsidiary staffing.

Dr Chul Chung

Expatriation; alternative work arrangements; organisational behaviour in relation to organisational performance; job insecurity and employability

Dr Rita Fontinha

Strategic HRM and the processes that hinder/facilitate employee-organisation relationship; individual interpretations and reactions to HRM practices, strategic management of human capital, well-being, counterproductive work behaviours, workplace justice, trust and leadership. Dr Charmi Patel

Business History

Business history; internationalisation of the media and creative industries

Professor Peter Miskell

History of the banking system; regulation of 19th century British joint-stock banks and the creation of an identity around these new entrants to the market; creation of identity for 20th century UK retail banks; governance and shareholder rights of 19th century corporations

Dr Lucy Newton

The evolution of mass consumption, consumer goods, consumer credit, and owner-occupation, together with their impacts on household behaviours; the evolution of mass retailing formats, and the consumer durables’ industries, in Britain, the United States and Europe; the impacts of British government policy on the evolution of British business and British households living standards.

Professor Peter Scott

British and American retail managerial revolution; spatial competition in product markets and between firms in automobile markets; academic performance and pay; varieties of capitalism.

Professor James Walker


More details can be found on the academic staff profiles page within the area of International Business and Strategy.

Next Steps

Once you have identified the topic which links to the expertise available in the International Business and Strategy Unit, the applicant must prepare a Research Proposal. This is a document that outlines the research topic and programme of research. Quality rather than quantity is the key to a good research proposal. As a guide, we are looking for 1500-3000 words. Below is an outline of the elements a research proposal might typically contain.

· Cover Page - including a title, providing a clear and succinct description of the proposed research, and name of the applicant

· Introduction - a brief explanation of the proposed research, why it is of value and how it is proposed to go about it

· Literature Review - An examination of key contributions relating to the area of research in question. The literature review should identify gaps in, or problems with, existing research to justify why further or new research is required

· Methodology - a description of the proposed methodology, including details of data collection and analysis. A time schedule showing key activities would be useful

· Refereneces - any literature cited in the proposal should be listed at the end of the document. Use of the Harvard style of referencing is preferred.

Fees and Funding


Tuition fee rates for the academic year 2017-18 can be found on the Graduate School website. The rates vary for UK/EU students and those classed as Overseas students.


Deadline for studentship applications for the academic year 2019/20 is 15 June 2019.


Up to 4 postgraduate studentships, each worth up to £15,000 plus University fees, are available for outstanding applicants wanting to conduct full-time postgraduate research in the area of International Business and Strategy. These awards are offered on an annual basis and are renewable at the end of each year subject to satisfactory performance, for up to 3 years. If you wish to be considered for a studentship please indicate this when you complete your online application form. Please note that we decide on who to award the studentships to after we have decided to shortlist your proposal. This means that only the best proposals are considered for the studentships.

Other funding opportunities

Fully-funded Ph.D. studentship on changes in household expenditure and behaviour over the twentieth century

The University of Reading’s Centre for International Business History (CIBH) is offering a fully-funded studentship for a Ph.D. project on the evolution of household expenditure and household behaviour over the twentieth century. The project will involve using British family expenditure survey data, together with other sources, to examine changes in household behaviour in areas such as housing, consumer durables, and leisure activities, and their determinants. The successful candidate will have good quantitative skills and a strong interest in business and economic history.

Centre for International Business History is also happy to discuss fully-funded studentships in other areas of business and economic history.

For further details, please contact Peter Scott. Further information on the research centre, its staff, and its current research projects and other activities, is available on our website.

Research Flyer

The Graduate School website lists a number of other sources of funding which may be worth investigating.

Continuing your career

A PhD in the area of International Business and Strategy from Henley Business School can open doors to a highly successful career in academia, large multinationals, leading consulting firms and governmental and non-governmental organisations worldwide.