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Fully Funded PhD Scholarship in Digitialisation: Challenges and Opportunities for Smaller Regional Innovation Systems

   College of Business

   Tuesday, April 25, 2023  Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About the Project

Fully Funded PhD Scholarship in Digitialisation: Challenges and Opportunities for Smaller Regional Innovation Systems

Discipline of Management, J.E. Cairnes School of Business and Economics College of Business, Public Policy and Law

Applicants are invited from suitably qualified candidates for full-time funded PhD scholarship(s) starting in September, 2023 affiliated to the Discipline of Management, J.E. Cairnes School of Business & Economics at the University of Galway. This position is funded by the HEA/NSRP

University of Galway

Located in the vibrant cultural city of Galway in the west of Ireland, the University of Galway has a distinguished reputation for teaching and research excellence For information on moving to Ireland please see

Detailed Project Description

This research will explore how firms create new paths for growth that embrace digitalisation within rural and peripheral regions across the west and north west of the island of Ireland. To address this, the project will analyse how firms located in such regions use collaborative partnerships (e.g. inter-firm collaborations, firm-university linkages) to span organisational and knowledge boundaries to embrace digitalisation. The project will investigate the barriers, challenges and opportunities of spanning such boundaries, including examining the role of supporting organisations (e.g. cluster organisations) for facilitating inter-organisational collaborative partnerships. This research will be qualitative and will involve industry case studies, which will be purposefully selected, along with associated cluster/supporting organisations and existing (or former) inter-organisational collaborative partnerships. The cases will be used to explore how firms cross boundaries to combine digital technology with sectoral domain knowledge to create new opportunities. The regional context for the research will be the west and north west of the island of Ireland and to understand the diversification challenge in this region.

The successful candidate will work with team of researchers led by Dr Majella Giblin and Professor John McHale at University of Galway, as well as Dr Kristel Millar and Dr Karen Bonner at Ulster University. This research team is interested in digitalisation transforming organisations and industries, and thus having potentially profound implications for the future of regions. Significant recent advances include the rapid advance in artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning as well as the rise in technology-supported connectivity. To build resilience, regions must develop new growth trajectories embracing digitalisation, which requires diversification. However, for smaller and less Page 2 of 3 developed regions a “diversification dilemma” (Balland et al. 2019, p. 1254) may persist - regional specific challenges to developing competences in complex technologies.

Regional resilience ultimately requires organisations (firms, research institutes, supporting organisations) to be dynamic for sustaining competitiveness. In the context of digitalisation, extant organisations must cross knowledge boundaries by integrating digital technology with traditional domain specific knowledge to create new opportunities. They must be dynamic given broader sectoral shifts that may be occurring as a result of digitalisation. A case in point is the Medical Technology sector in the West of Ireland, which has developed a strong specialisation in combining mechanical engineering domain knowledge with pharmaceutical knowledge to develop drug-eluting stent devices. With the advent of digitalisation, however, the medical technology sector more generally is shifting to more connected and smart devices, and the utilisation of robotics and AI. To continue to evolve and compete in this sector, medical technology firms may need to combine existing and new knowledge for related diversification. This often requires the formation of collaborative inter-organisational partnerships that span both organisational and knowledge boundaries, which is the focus of this PhD research.

Living allowance (Stipend): €23,500 per annum, [tax-exempt scholarship award]. Computer equipment and funding for travel (e.g. to conferences, for data collection) will be provided in addition to the stipend.

University fees: €5,370 per annum [fees for EU students].

Non-EU students who are not in receipt of any other scholarship that supports the payment of full Non-EU fees are eligible to apply for the PhD International Merit Scholarship Scheme at University of Galway. If successful, this scholarship award reduces course fees from the full international level to EU level.

Start date: 1st September 2023

Academic Entry Requirements:

• Normally a Masters degree in a relevant area, such as Business, Management, Entrepreneurship, Innovation, Economic Geography, Evolutionary Economics, Public Policy, or Social Sciences

• Honours 2.1 (or above) undergraduate degree in a relevant area, such as Business, Management, Entrepreneurship, Economics, Public Policy, or Social Sciences

Other experience and skills required:

• Experience of independent research demonstrating analytical, organisational, planning, networking and interpersonal skills

• Excellent written and oral communication skills

• Highly self-motivated

• Ability to work independently and as part of a team

• Willingness to travel

• Experience working with qualitative data

Desirable experience:

• Work experience as a researcher in the area of management, business, economics, public policy

• Work experience with a cluster organisation or other industry-supporting organisation for the growth of firms.

To Apply for the Scholarship:

Applications to include:

• Covering letter

• CV

• Sample of independent academic piece of work (e.g. assignment, dissertation, report. Must be an individual submission, not team submission)

• Contact details of two referees

Contact Name: Dr Majella Giblin/Tara Ryan

Contact Email: /

Application Deadline: 25/04/2023 and time 17:00 GMT. Primary Supervisor name (if applicable): Dr Majella Giblin

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