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Employee Engagement and Workplace Learning emerging from Matrix Structures in Digital Manufacturing Organisations (Advert Reference: SF19/BL/LHRM/ROCA)

Faculty of Business and Law

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Dr T Roca , Dr D Bennett Applications accepted all year round Self-Funded PhD Students Only

About the Project

International organisations are increasingly seeing changes to traditional operational procedures through innovative Digital Technology, due to continual developments in information technology and communication (Roca and Bennett, 2018). This project focuses on the emergence of Human Resources Development (HRD) innovative models when digitising current Matrix Structured Operations. A multidisciplinary approach will be used to consider recent research results, which have identified different relational and procedural strategies contributing to employee engagement, commitment, performance individual and organisational learning (Machine learning, Cognitive Technology (Roca and Bennett, 2018). However, it is suggested that appropriate training to promulgate Employee Engagement and Workplace Learning to Operational functions to ensure Digital Cross-functionality is essential. Since real time cross-functional working requires a high level of commitment and self-efficacy, it necessitates the propagation of Employee Engagement and Workplace Learning to Operational Functions to ensure the effective Digital Cross-Functionality. Possible implications are that individual workers suitably trained become empowered and freed from constricting traditional working practices, making them prone to embrace rather than resist digital change. Ultimately, it is proposed that matrix organisations through digitalisation, break down traditional functional paradigm work boundaries and expand HRM cognition, learning and practices.

It is expected that the findings will contribute to the under researched body of literature on cross-functional organisational structures and operational learning, proposing matrix organisational network structures, characterised by cross-functional working practices, as valuable integrators of knowledge and expertise in the contemporary digital era. This in turn, will enable a more cognisant theoretical and practical understanding of the operational enhancements and challenges of the 21st century manufacturing and service organisations.

Preference will be given to a candidate with a background in Occupational Psychology or Supply Chain and Operations Management.

This project is supervised by Dr Teresa Roca.

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.

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. SF19/…) will not be considered.

Northumbria University takes pride in, and values, the quality and diversity of our staff. We welcome applications from all members of the community. The University holds an Athena SWAN Bronze award in recognition of our commitment to improving employment practices for the advancement of gender equality.

Funding Notes

Please note this is a self-funded project and does not include tuition fees or stipend.


Morton, S., Michaelides, R., Roca, T., and Wagner, H. (2018) ‘Increasing Employee Engagement in Organizational Citizenship Behaviors within Continuous Improvement Programs in Manufacturing: The HR Link’ in IEEE Transactions on Engineering Management.

Roca, T., and Bennett, D. (2018) ‘Employee Engagement and Workplace Learning emerging from Matrix Structures in Digital Manufacturing Organisations. UFHRD Conference 6th-8th June 2018 Newcastle Business School, Northumbria University UK

Demirbas, D., Wilkinson, L and Bennett, D. (2018) ‘Supplier Relations impact within the UK Automotive Industry’ Benchmarking and International Journal (Accepted: Publication 2019)

Demirbas, D., Holleville, L. and Bennett, D. (2018) ‘Evaluation and Comparison of Lean Manufacturing Practices in Britain and France: A Case Study of a Printing Solutions Organisation’ Journal of Economy Culture and Society 2018; 57: 93-150

Dinsdale, E., and Bennett, D. (2015) ‘Benefits; drawbacks and boundaries to deliver JIT. Re-thinking the UK Automotive Industry Operations Supply Strategy’ Benchmarking an International Journal, Vol. 22 No 6, 2015 pp1081 - 1095

Roca, T., Morton, S., Roula, M. (2015, September) ‘How to increase employees’ engagement in organizational citizenship behaviours within continuous improvement programs in manufacturing’. Paper presented at the British Academy of Management (BAM) conference, University of Portsmouth, 7-10 September 2015 (pp. 883).

Demirbas, D., Flint, F., and Bennett, D. (2014) ‘Supply Chain interfaces between a port utilizing organisation and port operator’ Supply Chain Management an International Journal 19/1. 2014 79-97

Bennett, D., and Klug, F. (2012) ‘Logistics supplier integration in the automotive industry’ International Journal of Operations & Production Management, Vol.32 No. 11, 2012 pp 1281-1305

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