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Corporate Political Activities by Multinational Corporations in Emerging Markets (Advert Reference: RDF22/BL/EIS/ELSAHN)

   Faculty of Business and Law

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  Dr Ziad Elsahn, Dr R Nyuur  No more applications being accepted  Competition Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About the Project

Corporate political activity (CPA) has emerged as a research concept in the international business (IB) literature explaining foreign firms’ involvement with political institutions and actors in host countries for achieving organisational objectives. CPAs refer to a variety of non-market strategies and actions deployed by multinational enterprises (MNEs) with the aim of managing host political institutions, shaping government policy and/or influencing political actors in ways favourable to the firm to improve performance. Host governments’ rules and regulations may discriminate against foreign firms through policies such as procurement, taxation, appropriation, and asset transfer, among others. Foreign firms consider such discriminatory policies as political risk and tend to respond through CPAs. Existing studies on CPA have examined the antecedents, types, outcomes (both the dark and bright sides), and whether CPA is undertaken by firms individually or collectively within an industry.

Although important progress in understanding CPA has been made, much of the literature has focused on the contexts of developed countries where processes of engaging in CPA are well delineated, and primarily focused on firm level legal engagement with established institutional political structures and actors. CPA in weak institutional contexts is normally associated with corruption and ethically suspect strategies, but the scope beyond corruption is less explored. the patterns of CPA and the capabilities required by foreign firms to effectively engage in CPA in contexts of weak and incomplete institutions may be different. Research has therefore not sufficiently examined the nature of CPA by MNCs in contexts of fragile and underdeveloped institutions. It thus remains unclear how MNCs engage in CPA and the capabilities required to engage in CPA in such contexts. There are calls for more research to enhance our understanding of how businesses engage with political institutions, political actors, and shape public policy. Given the suggestion that corporate political connections are more prevalent and valuable in contexts of weak institutions, coupled with stakeholder concerns about the influence of corporate power in politics in such contexts, this proposal seeks to examine how MNCs engage in CPA and the capabilities required to effectively engage in CPA in developing countries.

Methodologies in this project could include qualitative or quantitative approaches, although a combination of the two may be most desirable. A comparative study between two developing contexts or between a developed and developing context with institutional voids would be ideal. The study will contribute to the international business scholarship by generating impactful theoretical insights on the nature of CPA in developing contexts and the capabilities required by MNCs to effectively engage in CPA. The findings from this project will also have both practical and policy implications for both businesses and governments in developing countries’ contexts.

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.

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/…) 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. We welcome applications from all members of the community.

Funding Notes

The studentship supports a full stipend, paid for three years at RCUK rates (for 2021/22, this is £15,609 pa) and full tuition fees


Elsahn, Z. F., & Benson-Rea, M. (2018). Political schemas and corporate political activities during foreign market entry: A micro-process perspective. Management International Review, 58(5), 771-811.
Nyuur, R., Ofori, D. F. & Debrah, Y. A. (2016). The impact of FDI inflow on domestic firms’ uptake of CSR activities: the moderating effects of host institutions. Thunderbird International Business Review, Vol. 58(2), 147–159.
Nyuur, R. & Debrah, Y.A (2014). Predicting Foreign Firms’ Expansion and Divestment Intentions in Host Countries: Insights from Ghana. Thunderbird International Business Review, Vol. 56(5), 407–419.
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