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Impact of technology-driven efficient manufacturing on environmental sustainability performance in UK and central Europe (Advert Reference: RDF21/BL/MOS/SHOKRI2)

Faculty of Business and Law

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Dr A Shokri , Prof M Reimann No more applications being accepted Funded PhD Project (UK Students Only)
Newcastle United Kingdom Business Data Analysis Energy Technologies Management Business & Management Environmental Sciences

About the Project

Project Rationale and Description

At present, waste reduction, technology and sustainability are important concerns for manufacturers and in general for the society. Smart manufacturing represents a fundamental paradigm shift towards efficiency and agility with a high-tech strategic agenda (Chiarini, 2020). The impact of waste reduction and technology on sustainability has recently been studied in the manufacturing setting (Varela et al, 2019). However, theoretical research linking technology-driven efficient manufacturing with environmentally friendly practices is scarce.

While at first sight, any technology improving manufacturing efficiency of new products may hurt processes like recycling or remanufacturing, these circular activities may just as well benefit from smart technologies, and there may even be complementarity gains.

Therefore, our aims is to identify and test the mediating role of technology to promote more effective integration of efficient manufacturing with environmental sustainability practices on an organisational and operational level (Muller et al, 2018; and Varela et al, 2019). The key questions to be answered by this research are:

  1. How can technological principles of smart manufacturing influence an establishment of waste reduction and re-use principles in manufacturing settings to promote sustainability?
  2. How can smart and efficient manufacturing practices with significant human-machine interaction influence operational effectiveness of sustainability practices?

Whilst the first question focuses on the higher level of organisational readiness for the moderating impact of technology on efficient and green integrated manufacturing, the second question focuses on the practical role of technology on the effective application of waste reduction practices to promote green manufacturing.

The project will start with a multi-disciplinary review of existing literature including but not limited to Lean Management, Total Quality Management (TQM), Closed-loop Supply Chains and Industry 4.0 (Chirarini, 2020; Muller et al, 2018; and Varela et al, 2019). For example, the adoption of green manufacturing (Shokri and Li, 2020; Li et al, 2018; Kleber et al, 2020; and Shokri, 2019), Innovation and green manufacturing integration (Reimann et al, 2019), challenges of efficiency and its integration with technology (Shokri, 2017), cultural assessment of TQM practices (Shokri et al, 2016) and sustainability development (Shokri et al, 2014) have been evident in our recent publications.

From this literature review a conceptual framework of the causal relationship between smart technologies and green practices will be developed. Based on this framework a theoretical model including testable hypotheses will be derived. Using this model, an empirical quantitative and qualitative study will be performed among UK and Austrian manufacturers by means of a survey questionnaire. This will be followed by more in-depth feasibility analysis through interviewing managers and practitioners. Our results will contribute towards Socio-technical system theory (Sony and Naik, 2020), industrial revolution theory (Zonnenshain and Kennett, 2020) and Lean management theory (Womack et al, 1991; and Handel, 2014).

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. RDF21/BL/MOS/SHOKRI2) will not be considered.

Deadline for applications: 29 January 2021

Start Date: 1 October 2021

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

For informal enquiries, please contact Dr Alireza Shokri ([Email Address Removed])

Funding Notes

The studentship is available to Home students and includes a full stipend, paid for three years at RCUK rates (for 2020/21, this is £15,285 pa) and full tuition fees.
Please note: to be classed as a Home student, candidates must meet the following criteria:
• Be a UK National (meeting residency requirements), or
• have settled status, or
• have pre-settled status (meeting residency requirements), or
• have indefinite leave to remain or enter.
If a candidate does not meet the criteria above, they would be classed as an International student.


[1]Shokri, A. and Li, G. (2020). Green implementation of Lean Six Sigma in manufacturing sector. International Journal of Lean Six Sigma.11(4): 711-729, DOI: 10.1108/IJLSS-12-2018-0138, ISSN: 2040-416
[2]Shokri, A. (2019). Investigating the view of quality management success factors amongst future early career operations leaders. International Journal of Quality and service Science. 11(4): 487-503, ISSN: 1756-669X
[3]Shokri, A. (2019). Reducing the scrap rate in an electronic manufacturing SME through Lean Six Sigma methodology. IEEE Engineering Management Review. 47(3): 104-117, ISSN: 1937-4178, IEEE DOI: 0.1109/EMR.2019.2931184.
[4]*Shokri, A. and Nabhani, F. (2019). Quality management vision of future early career Operations Managers: a model approach. International Journal of Quality and Reliability Management, 36(2): 162-185, ISSN: 0265-671X, IF. 2.17
[5]*Shokri, A. (2017). Quantitative analysis of Six Sigma, Lean and Lean Six Sigma research publications in last two decades. International Journal of Quality and Reliability Management, 34(5), ISSN: 0265-671X, IF. 2.17.
[6]*Shokri, A. Waring, T. and Nabhani, F. (2016). Investigating the readiness of people in manufacturing SMEs to embark on Lean Six Sigma projects: An empirical study in the German manufacturing sector. International Journal of Operations and Production Management, 36(8): 850-878, ISSN: 0144-3577, IF. 4.371.
[7]Shokri, A. and Nabhani, F. (2015). LSS, a problem solving skill for graduates and SMEs: Case Study of investigation in a UK Business School curriculum. International Journal of Lean Six Sigma, 6 (2): 176-202, ISSN: 2040-416.
[8]*Shokri, A. Oglethorpe, D. Nabhani, F. (2014). Evaluation of sustainability in the UK fast Food Supply Chain. Journal of Manufacturing Technology Management, 25 (8): 1224-1244, IF. 2.194.
[9]*Shokri, A. Oglethorpe, D. Nabhani, F. (2014). Evaluating Six Sigma methodology to improve logistical measures of food distribution SMEs. Journal of Manufacturing Technology Management, 25 (7): 998-1027, IF. 2.194.
[10]Reimann, M. Xiong, Y. and Zhou, Y. (2019). Managing a closed-loop supply chain with process innovation for remanufacturing. European Journal of Operational Research, 276(2): 510-518.
[11]Kleber, R. Quariguasi Frota Neto, J. Reimann, M. (2020). Proprietary parts as a secondary market strategy, European Journal of Operational Research, 283 (3): 929-941.
[12]Li, G. Reimann, M. and Zhang, W. (2018). When remanufacturing meets product quality improvement: The impact of production cost. European Journal of Operational Research, 271(3): 913-925.
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