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University of Exeter Business School EPSRC Studentship: Water stewardship in the agricultural supply chain

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  • Funded PhD Programme (European/UK Students Only)
    Funded PhD Programme (European/UK Students Only)

Profile Description

The University of Exeter is inviting applications for an EPSRC funded PhD studentship to commence in January 2016 (or as soon as possible thereafter). For eligible students the studentship will cover tuition fees plus an annual tax free stipend of at least £14,057 pa for three and a half years.

Research Question: How do large scale companies, western or Chinese having water as their key production input, manage water in their agricultural supply chains in China?

Water is a key ingredient or production input that every product uses and vital to the communities of which we are a part and the ecosystems on which we all rely on. This is particularly true for the companies who use water as their key raw material for their finished products. We are aware from sustainability reports of companies like Coca Cola that they have had their water strategies, i.e., reduce, recycle and replenish; however, the detailed best practice in this area is not at all clear. Even little is known about the practice in China, where per capita water resource is very limited. Chinese government is aware of that and makes a great deal of efforts to address the water shortage and pollution issues. In addition, companies in apparel industry face the problem of complex supply chains containing multiple-tiers from cotton farms to cotton gins to yam manufacturer to fabric manufacturer to garment manufacturer to retail brands like H&M. There are two places where water use requires special attention: agricultural use of water (e.g., for growing cotton) and wastewater treatment in the dyeing process in addition to others, which may be carried out by fabric manufacturer or a dyeing company adding one more tier to the supply chain). Companies like IKEA have put much emphasis on their apparel supply chains by implementing sustainable initiatives across the whole chains and focusing in particular on two extremes (cotton farms and first tier suppliers) in the upstream. Water supply and demand, food/crop production and energy provision and consumption are intimately linked physically, socially and economically, forming the Water-Food-Energy (WFE) Nexus, an interconnected system that is increasingly a cause for concern due to projected demand growth. Strategic decision-making for planning and management of infrastructure supporting the Water-Food-Energy the Nexus is an example of the so-called ‘wicked problems' (difficult or impossible to solve because of incomplete, contradictory, and changing requirements that are often difficult to recognise).

Supervision will be provided by Dr Jeff Jia (Department of Management, Business School) and Professor Dragan Savic (College of Engineering, Mathematics and Physical Sciences).

For further details please see the University of Exeter's website -

Residential Eligibility:

This studentship is funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) and is only available to UK and EU nationals. You must have settled status in the UK and must have resided in the UK for three years prior to starting the studentship, and not solely for the purpose of education. Candidates from outside the EU are not eligible for this studentship. For full details on the residence requirements please see


Funding Notes

Some or all of the PhD opportunities in this programme have funding attached. It is available to citizens of a number of European countries (including the UK). In most cases this will include all EU nationals. However full funding may not be available to all applicants and you should read the full programme details for further information.

How good is research at University of Exeter in Business and Management Studies?

FTE Category A staff submitted: 49.05

Research output data provided by the Research Excellence Framework (REF)

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