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Community Cohesion & Regional Economic Development: Parallel Roads or Congruent Paths? (Advert Reference: RDF22/BL/AFM/CABRAS1)

   Faculty of Business and Law

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  Prof Ignazio Cabras  No more applications being accepted  Competition Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About the Project

The achievement of economic growth and development at regional and sub-regional level has been significantly researched in the past, particularly about what concerns the development of sustainable solutions aimed at maximising outcomes by involving different stakeholders at different levels in the economic processes. More recent research studies have re-evaluated the crucial role played by local communities and networks embedded within peripheral and spatially remote areas.

Combining a community focus with economic and entrepreneurial approaches, with a more active involvement from local communities as well as private entrepreneurs and public sector bodies, represents a challenging task but appears to facilitate a more sustainable growth particularly in remote and peripheral areas. However, while many studies have provided interesting theoretical frameworks to track and identify possible patterns of development in the field, very few have been able to demonstrate the effectiveness of such practices empirically, also due to the paucity of data available at lower administrative scales.

This research project seeks to analyse how community and social cohesion can generate and stimulate economic development at a regional and local level. In particular, the project aims to identify and quantify the value of social and community cohesion for local entrepreneurs and its role in shaping innovation and competitiveness, exploring and evaluating the ways in which public and private agents and local communities create and sustain cohesive communities.

The research proposal builds up from research findings presented and included in the REF 2021 Impact Case Study submission made by the lead supervisor, Professor Ignazio Cabras, on the role played by third places in facilitating and fostering community cohesion and wellbeing in rural and remote areas. The objective is to use the ICS as a platform to design and develop innovative research into a relatively under-researched topic in literature, in view of enhancing theoretical knowledge and providing practical solutions aimed at evaluating and measuring the impact of community and social cohesion on economic development and business growth at a regional and local level.

We would expect applicants to outline one potential methodological approach, either qualitative or quantitative, and justify its potential appropriateness to the study including its strengths and limitations. Given the paucity of empirical studies on this theme, the study is likely to generate significant interest among practitioners and policymakers.

The Supervisory Team will be led by Professor Ignazio Cabras and will include colleagues based at the Accounting and Financial Management department. Professor Ignazio Cabras is a leading expert on the topic, to which he regularly contributes with peer-review articles to several journals. He is engaged in international research networks and projects and has strong links with business and industry.

This project is supervised by Prof Ignazio Cabras.

Eligibility and How to Apply:

Please note eligibility requirement:

  • Academic excellence of the proposed student i.e. 2:1 (or equivalent GPA from non-UK universities [preference for 1st class honours]); or a Masters (preference for Merit or above); or APEL evidence of substantial practitioner achievement.
  • Appropriate IELTS score, if required.
  • Applicants cannot apply for this funding if currently engaged in Doctoral study at Northumbria or elsewhere or if they have previously been awarded a PhD.

For further details of how to apply, entry requirements and the application form, see


Please note: Applications that do not include a research proposal of approximately 1,000 words (not a copy of the advert), or that do not include the advert reference (e.g. RDF22/BL/AFM/CABRAS1) will not be considered.

Deadline for applications: 18 February 2022

Start Date: 1 October 2022

Northumbria University takes pride in, and values, the quality and diversity of our staff and students. We welcome applications from all members of the community.

Funding Notes

Each studentship supports a full stipend, paid for three years at RCUK rates (for 2021/22 full-time study this is £15,609 per year) and full tuition fees. UK and international (including EU) candidates may apply.
Studentships are available for applicants who wish to study on a part-time basis over 5 years (0.6 FTE, stipend £9,365 per year and full tuition fees) in combination with work or personal responsibilities.
Please also read the full funding notes which include advice for international and part-time applicants.


Public houses and house prices in Great Britain: a panel analysis, Cabras, I., Sohns, F., Canduela, J., Toms, S. 12 Feb 2020, In: European Planning Studies
Promoting Waste Degrowth and Environmental Justice at a Local Level, Weber, G., Cabras, I., Calaf-Forn, M., Puig-Ventosa, I., D'Alisa, G. Feb 2019, In: Ecological Economics
The availability of local services and its impact on community cohesion in rural areas, Cabras, I., Lau, C. 1 May 2019, In: Local Economy
Cabras I. and Mount M. (2017): ‘How third place foster and shape community cohesion, economic development and social capital: the case of pubs in rural Ireland’. Journal of Rural Studies 55(5): 71-82
Cabras I. and Mount M. (2017): ‘Assessing the impact of pubs on community cohesion and wellbeing in the English countryside: a longitudinal study’. International Journal of Contemporary Hospitality Management 29(1): 55-79
Cabras I. and Mount M. (2016) ‘Economic Development, Entrepreneurial Embeddedness and Resilience: The Case of Pubs in Rural Ireland’. European Planning Studies, 24(2): 254-276
Cabras I. and Bosworth G. (2014) ‘Embedded models of rural entrepreneurship: the case of pubs in Cumbria, North West of England’. Local Economy Vol. 29 no. 6/7; pp. 598–616*
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