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ESRC Wales DTP Collaborative Studentship in Economics - Innovation, Management Capability and Productivity in SMEs

Cardiff Business School

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Cardiff United Kingdom Econometrics Financial Economics Macroeconomics Microeconomics Economics Political Economics

About the Project

Studentships commence in October 2021. Applications are invited from exceptional candidates with a first class or strong upper second class honours degree, and appropriate Master’s degree with an average mark of at least 65%. Applications can also be considered from holders of a first-class undergraduate degree in Economics or similar subject with significant economic content.

The University and ESRC Wales DTP value diversity and equality and we encourage applications from all sections of the community, irrespective of age, disability, sex, gender identity, marital or civil partnership status, pregnancy or maternity, race, religion or belief and sexual orientation. In line with our commitment to supporting and promoting equality, diversity and inclusion, and to increase recruitment of currently underrepresented groups, applications from Black British, Asian British, minority ethnicity British and mixed race British candidates are particularly encouraged and welcomed. 

We welcome applications for full-time study, and studentships are available as either 2+2 (one year MSc in Economics, 1 year MRes in Advanced Economics and 2 years Doctoral study), or 1+2 (one year MRes in Advanced Economics and 2 years Doctoral study).

Please visit here for further information about the PhD Programme at Cardiff Business School.

Applications welcomed by 3 February 2021 (1200 hours).

These studentships are ‘collaborative’ awards. Applicants should take careful consideration of the working title and description of the project, and may wish to contact the named member of staff for a discussion prior to applying.

·      The Lead supervisor on this project is, Professor Andrew Henley, [Email Address Removed]

·      The ESRC Economics pathway lead is, Dr Ezgi Kaya, [Email Address Removed]

Details of the project:

The project operates under the Cardiff University-ONS Strategic Partnership, between the ONS Economic Microdata and Research Team and Cardiff Business School.

The UK has a growing and deep-seated productivity gap with other advanced industrial economies, and accelerating since around the 2008-9 global financial crisis (McCann and Vorley, 2020). The COVID-19 crisis is generating a further productivity challenge, with unclear medium term implications (McCann and Vorley, 2021). ESRC has invested heavily in this thematic priority and the breadth of funded activity highlights its multifaceted nature. In common with other peripheral UK regions,Wales has a prosperity gap with the rest of the UK, and pari passu with the wider industrialised world (Webber et al., 2018). At devolution this gap was articulated in terms of low levels of economic activity and low productivity. The latter has proved much less tractable, indicative of the complex and multi-faceted nature of the problem.

ONS has invested heavily in improving data investments and analytical capacity. This project focuses on the analysis of large scale, micro-and longitudinal data, providing opportunities for a student to deploy advanced level micro-econometric and evaluation methods (Disney et al., 2003; Harris and Moffat, 2017). ONS are particularly keen to exploit their significant firm level microdata resources to support the analysis of the productivity gap. A key element of their current work is linkage of data (which contain detailed information on firm and enterprise level economic performance including value added) to other firm level datasets covering management practices and expectations, and employee skills and characteristics. They are keen to progress this work, to demonstrate the potential value of linked microdata to productivity analysis.

One particular dimension focuses on the “long-tail” of less productive firms (Haldane, 2017). This is an issue of particular interest to ONS, with resonance in Wales where firms are smaller, indigenous or headquartered “exemplars of high productivity” are more scarce, the innovation eco-system is less well resourced, and where sustained rounds of European funding have emphasised job safe-guarding rather than productivity.

Within this setting there is considerable scope to develop detailed research questions to address one or more topics under the following non-exhaustive list:

·      Management and leadership practices and skills

·      Export orientation and achievement

·      Entrepreneurial orientation, knowledge transfer and innovation absorptive capacity

·      Measurement of organizational and digital capital in SMEs

·      Effectiveness of business support funding

·      Local infrastructure (physical and digital) and impact on productivity

·      Impact of employee skills investment and employee well-being

·      Impact of COVID-19 on SME performance

Funding Notes

Cardiff University Business School, supported by the ESRC Doctoral Training Partnership for Wales (Wales DTP), invites applications for funded PhD study. This competition is open to UK, EU and International students.
Please read the project details for further information about eligibility and how to apply.
Applications close midday 3rd February 2021
This program is available in English only. To request information in Welsh, please contact the Postgraduate Recruitment Team ([Email Address Removed]).


Studentship Awards commence in October 2021 and will cover your tuition fees as well as a maintenance grant (currently £15,285 p.a. for 2020/21 for full-time students, updated each year); and includes access to an additional Research Training Support Grant (RTSG), though an element of this latter fund may be ‘pooled’ and require separate applications from 2021 onwards. There are other opportunities and benefits available to studentship holders, including an overseas fieldwork allowance (if applicable), internship opportunities, overseas institutional visits and other small grants.
ESRC studentships are highly competitive, candidates should have an excellent academic background in Economics, holding a 1st or strong upper 2nd class degree and an appropriate Master's with an average mark of at least 65%; applications from those also holding a relevant Economics Masters degree will be considered for a 1+2 award. Wales DTP studentships are available to both home and international (including EU and EEA) students. All applicants will be eligible for a full award consisting of a maintenance stipend and payment of tuition fees at the UK research organisation rate. Applicants must satisfy studentship eligibility requirements. For further details see the UKRI web site Successful international student applicants will receive a fully-funded Wales DTP studentship and will not be charged the fees difference between the UK and international rate.
2+2 OR 1+2?
A 2+2 studentship provides funding for four years, completing a Masters in Economics in the 1st year, followed by 1 year MRes in Advanced Economics, then 2 years of doctoral research.
Please see the Cardiff Business School website for further details on the programme structure and admission criteria:
The closing deadline for applications is 12.00 noon on Friday 3rd February 2021. Short-listed applicants will be invited to interview, which are expected to take place in late February/early March 2021. After interview, a final short-list of applicants will be put forward to a Panel convened by the ESRC Wales DTP Management Group at which final decisions with regard to studentship awards will be made. In most cases successful applicants can expect to hear by early April 2021.
A completed application form for admission to doctoral study in Cardiff Business School: submitted by the deadline of 12 noon on 3 February 2021. Incomplete applications or applications received after this specified time will not be accepted.
The application must contain the following documents:
1. Covering letter: Please address to Dr Ezgi Kaya. The covering letter must name the collaborative studentship being applied for. It must set out your reasons and motivation for applying to study at Cardiff University and the Economics Pathway; your understanding, and expectations of doctoral study; and your academic interests generally, and particularly how these relate to the description of the project supplied. The covering letter should be no more than two pages. Please also specify whether you wish to apply on a 2+2 or 1+2 basis.
2. Academic / Professional Qualifications: Where appropriate, this should also include proof of English Language Competency (7.0 IELTS minimum).
3. References: All applications require two academic references to be submitted in support. Candidates must approach referees themselves and include the references with their application.
4. Curriculum Vitae: This should be no longer than two pages.
5. Research Proposal: For collaborative studentships, the proposal should build directly on the outline description that has been supplied. The proposal should be up to a maximum of 1000 words, not including bibliographic references. We suggest that you use the following five headings in your research proposal:
• Your reflections on the title, aims and purpose of the research;
• An overview of some key research literature relevant to the study;
• Your proposals for developing the design and methods of the study;
• A description of potential outcomes of the project for understanding, knowledge, policy and practice (as appropriate to the topic);
• Bibliographic references
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