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Postgraduate research at Henley Business School

International Business and Strategy PhD Opportunities

This PhD programme will focus on critical developments in international business and organisations’ strategic response to these.

At a glance

  • 50 years experience of teaching and research in International Business
  • Attend the Henley International Business Masterclasses
  • Learn from leading research centres
  • Option to gain a Double PhD with Politecnico di Milano (POLIMI)
  • Join an internationally-renowned faculty
Subject area(s)
3 years
Programme Director
Davide castellani 397 3 Davide Castellani 75e5pfi5e
Professor Davide Castellani

This PhD programme will offer you the opportunity undertake original and business relevant research in International Business and Strategy. In this programme you'll develop your critical thinking, intellectual capacity and creativity. Our postgraduate research students are drawn from all over the world. You will benefit from a dynamic research environment and supervision from internationally renowned faculty, dedicated support and outstanding facilities.

For over 50 years we have stood at the forefront of teaching and research in International Business. 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. Also on organisations’ strategic response to these developments.

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 you broader learning opportunities. Each masterclass offers the opportunity to engage in key International Business topics taught by notable intellectual figures in the field.

Politecnico di Milano (POLIMI)

Alongside the PhD in International Business and Strategy, we offer a Double PhD with the Department of Management, Economics and Industrial Engineering (DIG) at POLIMI. POLIMI has a strong commitment to the excellence, distinctiveness and relevance of its teaching and research activities. The Doctoral Program at POLIMI is highly international and PhD graduates are held in high esteem. Not only in academia, but also in public institutions and companies where their research qualifications are increasingly demanded. More information on POLIMI can be found here.

This 4-year programme allows you to spend a period of normally 6-9 months at Politecnico di Milano, when enrolled at Henley. You will benefit from joint supervision by one member of faculty from each institution throughout your career. There will be one oral examination (“Viva”) and one thesis to be submitted for the Double PhD Programme. If you’re interested in applying for this programme, you should clearly mention it in your PhD application.

Leading research centres

Henley Business School’s research in International Business and Strategy is driven through centres that are at the forefront of research. This includes 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

Please see our Research areas for more information.

The module descriptions set out on this page are correct for modules being taught in the current academic year. Optional module listings are indicative and may be subject to change.

Year 1

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

  • Attend and obtain at least 60 credits from PhD/Masters level courses in Research Methods and other relevant courses plus a no-credit bearing course (see below);
  • Attend some short courses (2-3 hours each) required for the Reading Researcher Development Programme at the Graduate School (overseeing PhD studies within the University of Reading);
  • Attend the Preparing to Teach training programme (which is necessary to be able to complete any teaching-related activities within Henley Business School);
  • Participate in weekly research seminars organised by your Department and others relevant to your area of interest;
  • Hold regular meetings with your supervisor(s).

Required Taught Component

We have a slightly different path of taught components for students primarily using quantitative vs. qualitative research methods.

Quantitative Path

Compulsory modules Credits

Terms in which taught: Autumn term module
Non-modular pre-requisites:
Modules excluded:
Module version for: 2013/4Module Convenor: Prof Charles Ward


Summary module description:


Assessable learning outcomes:
By the end of the module, it is expected that students will be able to
? Explain the steps involved in drafting a Masters or PhD thesis
? Determine the appropriate form and content for such a thesis
? Describe the types of research that are conducted in the social sciences
? Critically evaluate research in various sub-fields of management research
? Draft a review of an area of literature in their subject area
? Discuss various ethical issues that may arise when conducting research
? Present a seminal study and act as a discussant for an additional study

Additional outcomes:
? Develop presentation and communication skills including time management.

Outline content:
1 Searching for literature in a particular field.
2 Writing a dissertation or thesis.
3 Drafting a literature review.
4 Research ethics.
5 How to make research presentations
6 How to orally discuss other researchers’ presentations

Brief description of teaching and learning methods:
Students will be expected to contribute to the discussion of the material which will be presented in a relatively informal format. For the first five weeks, the module convenor will present material and lead the discussion. In the second half, students will then present and discuss seminal studies in their sub-field, with the module convenor acting as a Chairman.

Contact hours:

Guided independent study180
Total hours by term200.00
Total hours for module200.00

Summative Assessment Methods:

Written assignment including essay50
Oral assessment and presentation50

Other information on summative assessment:
Presentation of seminal study
Discussion of another study
Written literature review

Formative assessment methods:

Penalties for late submission:
Penalties for late submission on this module are in accordance with the University policy. Please refer to page 5 of the Postgraduate Guide to Assessment for further information:

Length of examination:

Requirements for a pass:

Reassessment arrangements:
Resubmission of the research literature review.

Last updated: 7 June 2013

20 [10 ECTS credits]
20 [10 ECTS credits]

This module aims to introduce students to the understanding of qualitative research, (in social science and particularly in the area of business and management studies). It is designed for students mainly using quantitative methods in their PhD studies who wish to have an introductory class in qualitative research.

Academic authors
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Professor Kleio Akrivou
0 [0 ECTS credits]
20 [10 ECTS credits]

Qualitative Path

Compulsory modules Credits

The module aims to provide students in the Business School with an understanding of all the issues involved in researching, preparing, and writing a literature review for their thesis, together with the specific techniques and resources involved.

Academic authors
Professor peter scott 397 3 Peter Scott 75e5pfi6j
Professor Peter Scott
20 [10 ECTS credits]

The module aims to deepen students’ understanding of qualitative research, particularly in the area of business, organisational, social and management studies.

Academic authors
Dr Evelyn Fenton
20 [10 ECTS credits]

The module aims to broaden students’ understanding of data analysis by providing an overview of key methods and particularly focusing on regression analysis.

Academic authors
Min Zou 75edwqcke
Dr Min Zou
0 [0 ECTS credits]
20 [10 ECTS credits]
Confirmation of Registration

In the middle of the second year, 15 to 18 months from the start of your PhD (see differences between departments), you will submit a substantive Research Proposal of 10,000 words that will be defended in front of Faculty members and/or assessed by independent examiners. This process will coincide with your confirmation of registration and, if successful, it will grant you the status of a PhD candidate.

The research proposal will be a significant development of the initial proposal you submitted for your application. It will include material you may have produced during the 1st year courses in research methods (e.g. literature review, methodologies, data description, etc.). If you plan to do a PhD thesis combining three papers, you are expected to include a draft of the first paper in your research proposal. Alternatively, if you intend to use a book-like structure for your thesis, the document should include the draft of at least one of the three/four key chapters.

Year 2 and 3

During your 2nd and 3rd year you will:

  • Continue to work on your PhD dissertation drafting the other two papers / key chapters;
  • Hold regular meetings with your supervisor(s);
  • Attend some short courses (2-3 hours each) required for the Reading Researcher Development Programme at the Graduate School;
  • Participate in weekly research seminars organised by your Department and others relevant to your area of interest;
  • Contribute to Business School and Departmental teaching/research activities and events;
  • Present posters/papers at national/international conferences;

Your thesis should be completed before your viva examination at the end of your third or fourth year (4 years is the maximum registration period according to the University rules).

The module or course content descriptions set out on this page are correct for those being taught in the current academic year. Modules or course content marked as optional are indicative and may be subject to change.

How Henley careers can help you?

We have an award-winning careers team here to support you through your time at Henley and 4 years after graduating.

Henley Careers and Professional Development run numerous events throughout the autumn and spring terms to help you gain industry experience. These events are aimed to enhance your professional development and network with employers. We also offer one-to-one career coaching appointments where you can talk to a Careers Consultant about your professional development. This may include planning your ideal career journey or building confidence in a particular area. It could also involve practicing for interviews or having your CV checked.

For more information please see our Careers page.

Continuing your career

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

What our students have gone on to do
  • Steve Altman, Senior Research Scholar, New York University
  • Tom Buckley, Lecturer in International Business Strategy, University of Sheffield
  • Eko Budi Harjo, Faculty Member, Telekom Corporate University, Indonesia
  • Pattana Buonchoo, Assistant Professor, Thammasat University
  • Maggie Cooper, Lecturer in Management Accounting, Henley Business School
  • Chipoong Kim, Senior Researcher at Samsung Economic Research Institute
  • Sylvia Kim, Assistant Professor of Accounting, Fresno Pacific University
  • Jongmin Lee, Lecturer in International Business and Strategy, Henley Business School
  • Sirinuch Loykulnanta, Lecturer Prince of Songkla University, Thailand
  • Quyen Nguyen, Associate Professor of International Business and Strategy, Henley Business School
  • Karina Pavlisa, Teaching Fellow, Henley Business School
  • Ziyi Wei, Lecturer in Chinese Studies, University of Sheffield

Research Proposal

A key element of the application is a research proposal. Guidance on writing the research proposal can be found here. It is important that the applicant spends some time exploring the research that we are involved in to see if it fits alongside their own. Below are the main research areas of our staff.

Research Interest and faculty: 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
  • 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

Professor Elena Beleska-Spasova

Professor in International Business

Professor Mark Casson

Professor of Economics

Professor Davide Castellani

Professor of International Business

Dr Peder Greve

Lecturer of International Business

Professor Rajneesh Narula

Co-Director of the John H. Dunning Centre for International Business (stakeholder engagement)

Dr Quyen Nguyen

Associate Professor in International Business and Strategy

Professor Alain Verbeke

Visiting Professor

Professor Chris Brewster

Professor of International Human Resources Management

Dr Chul Chung

Assistant Professor in International Human Resource Management

Dr Rita Fontinha

Associate Professor in Strategic Human Resource Management

Dr Charmi Patel

Associate Professor in the International Human Resource Management

Professor Peter Miskell

Professor of International Business and Media History

Professor Lucy Newton

Professor in Business History

Professor Peter Scott

Professor of International Business History

Prof James T Walker

Head of International Business and Strategy

The Henley International Business Masterclasses are an initiative developed in the International Business and Strategy unit at Henley Business School. We provide these intensive courses on current debates and conceptual issues in International Business to give broader learning opportunities to PhD students and post-doctoral researchers. Each masterclass offers the opportunity to engage in key International Business topics taught by notable intellectual figures in the field.

The masterclasses are delivered in two sets each academic year, in the Autumn and Spring session.

Autumn term 2020/2021 Masterclasses

The Autumn session 2020/2021 will consist of the two masterclasses and these will run between 02 November till 13 November 2020. Both modules will be taught remotely.

MMD005 - Theory of the MNE: Foundations of Global Corporate Success by Prof. Alain Verbeke and Guest Speakers , 2 -6 November 2020

Guest speakers:

This Masterclass provides a critical overview of influential international business strategy literature with a focus on both conceptual and practical managerial insights. It consists of two parts. First, there will be 5 pre-recorded videos by the guest speakers on the foundations of international business strategy. These videos will be the basis for extensive class discussions with these scholars during 2-6 November (5 x 2 sessions of 45 minutes). Second, there will be presentations by Alain Verbeke, during 2-6 November on a wide range of topics at the heart of international business strategy (5 x 2 sessions of 45 minutes). Alain Verbeke will also be available for online mentoring sessions of 30 minutes with participants who would like to discuss their work.

For more information on the contents and structure of this Masterclass, please view syllabus here.

MMD003 - Economics of International Business by Prof. Mark Casson, 9 -12 November 2020

This Masterclass provides a state-of-the art account of how economic principles are used to gain insight into international business issues. It is intended for doctoral and post-doctoral researchers who have open minds and intellectual curiosity. No prior knowledge of economic theory is assumed. The course will help researchers to make full use of economic concepts in planning and executing their research projects. There will be eight 50-minute pre-recorded lectures, which will be available from November 1, 2020, and four 50-minute interactive seminars involving all course participants that will be conducted live. Mark Casson will also be available for online mentoring sessions of 30 minutes with participants who would like to discuss their work.

For more information on the contents and structure of this Masterclass, please view syllabus here.

The masterclasses are offered to PhD students and post-doctoral researchers. The number of students attending each course is strictly limited to 30.

Participants can either attend as formally enrolled students or as non-enrolled attendees. The first option will provide formal recognition in the form of credits. Participants will be awarded 10 credits per module, an equivalent of 5 ECTS credits, upon the positive evaluation of coursework and payment of a tuition fee (£230 for Home/EU students and £460 for Overseas students per module). The second option is free of tuition charges and will be non-credit bearing (participants will only receive a certificate of attendance).

To apply for the masterclasses in Autumn 2020/2021, please complete an online application form, and email the following supporting documents to Jana Oslejova:

· a CV
· an academic reference supporting the application

Application deadline for the Autumn term 2020/2021 Masterclasses is 2nd October 2020.

To find details about our previous Masterclasses click here

“The International Business Masterclasses provide an incredible platform to Ph.D. students from all over the world to understand the finest nuances of key theories of International Business and how the contemporary issues are making it imperative to revisit these theories thereby providing an opportunity to push the boundaries of IB as a field of study. Attending both the modules, Strategy and International Business taught by Prof. Alain Verbeke, and the Economics of International Business by Prof. Mark Casson and Prof. Gabriel Benito has immensely added to my knowledge of the subject and helped me develop a more holistic perspective on my ongoing Ph.D. research work. The classes are very well-structured and designed in a manner to allow free flow of discussion among the participants and with the professors. All the professors were very committed to understand and resolve the queries raised by the participants. The module on strategy and international business included students’ presentations of their current research and provided an excellent opportunity to take critical feedback from professors as well as the peers. Besides the academic content, masterclasses are a wonderful forum of meeting and developing network with fellow researches across the globe. I am extremely grateful to the organizers at the Henley Business School, University of Reading for giving us this opportunity and especially to Jana Oslejova for her exceptional assistance, support, and hospitality. She has been excellent in her job and pivotal in the running of the Masterclasses. Finally, my heartfelt thanks to the organizers for selecting me for the Alan Rugman Scholarship and Mrs. Helen Rugman to fund the same. It was an absolute honor to meet the very gentle lady, Mrs. Helen Rugman, and receive the award and attendance certificate directly from her. The masterclasses are the powerhouse of invaluable learning and meeting people with similar intellectual pursuits, because of which I strongly recommend them to every aspiring International Business Scholar and/or researcher.”
Rishika Nayyar, Indian Institute of Foreign Trade, PhD Candidate, November 2018

Contact us

If you have any questions, please contact Daria Radwan.

Telephone: +44 (0) 118 378 6597

History, location and triple-accreditation led me to choose Henley to pursue my PhD. Grounded in the Thames Valley, I had the opportunity to acquire valuable knowledge being in contact with a dynamic entrepreneurial ecosystem of both academics & practitioners

Matteo Borghi PhD student, Leadership, Organisations and Behaviour Management (Leadership, Organisations and Behaviour) PhD Opportunities