FindA University Ltd Featured PhD Programmes
University of Bristol Featured PhD Programmes
University of Leeds Featured PhD Programmes

Multinational Enterprises and Sustainable Development Goals in countries with fragile institutions


   Faculty of Business and Law


About the Project

Applications are invited for a self-funded, 3 year full-time or 6 year part-time PhD project.

The PhD will be based in the Strategy, Enterprise and Innovation Subject Group and will be supervised by Professor Diego Vazquez-Brust and Dr Hamid Foroughi.  

The work on this project will:

  • Investigate what are the key challenges faced for MNEs in the implementation of practices aligned to the UN SDGs in a context of institutional fragility. 
  • Analyse how Multinational Enterprises engage with UN SDGs in regions with institutional fragility such as Subsaharan Africa and the extent to which their strategies enhance or hinder host countries progress towards SDG.  
  • Develop and validate a multidimensional construct of SDG performance that will measure the extent to which companies contribute to each SDG goal and targets
  • investigate the organizational factors (i.e. ownership, corporate culture, supply chain configuration, human resource practices, risk management strategies) behind relative success and failure of foreign firms to contribute to sustainable development outcomes;
  • identify organizational capabilities, characteristics and practices contributing to successful and context-sensitive collaboration with local stakeholders to achieve Sustainable Development Goals in a just and ethical manner

Project description

Achieving the ambitious set of Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) in Sub-Saharan Africa is a global challenge that requires concerted international action. Increased investment from multinational companies contributed to bring about economic growth in some countries in the region but the key challenge it brought alongside was rising inequality and alarming environmental deterioration, making it one of the significant conundrums facing the private-sector led development (APPR, 2013).).

Economic spillovers are created by inflows of capital, new employment and taxes paid by multinationals, however they often fail to reach the most vulnerable people, disenfranchised and depending on informal economy activities for subsistence (Haglund, 2008). This failure is the result of fragile state-led governance systems (Ostrom, 2010). In countries with fragile governance systems, such as most African countries, a combination of private, public and civic regulation could be the most effective pathway to uphold labour and environmental standards while supporting social inclusion and increased economic complexity contributing to sustainable development goals (Dahan et al, 2015). Unfortunately, the history of foreign firms in Africa presents systemic management concerns, tax evasion, failure to recognize local needs and engage relevant stakeholders, and violent conflict with informal economy rivals (Haglund, 2008). This suggests that unfettered operations of multinationals may not contribute to improved governance and instead translate into underwhelming sustainable development outcomes (APR,2013) 

A stumbling block in the development of strategies to harness the benefits of foreign firms, has been the outstanding lack of research investigating the organizational factors (i.e. ownership, corporate culture, supply chain configuration, human resource practices, risk management strategies) behind relative success and failure of foreign firms to contribute to sustainable development outcomes in developing countries (Vazquez-Brust et al, 2014). Therefore, this research project attempts to identify organizational capabilities, characteristics and practices contributing to successful and context-sensitive collaboration with local stakeholders to achieve Sustainable Development Goals in a just and ethical manner.

General admissions criteria

You'll need a good first degree from an internationally recognised university (minimum upper second class or equivalent, depending on your chosen course) or a Master’s degree in Business or a related area. In exceptional cases, we may consider equivalent professional experience and/or Qualifications. English language proficiency at a minimum of IELTS band 6.5 with no component score below 6.0.

Specific candidate requirements 

The student will be trained in mixed methods research techniques including econometrics, case study, storytelling and ethnographies and will be based within Portsmouth Faculty of Business and Law. She will have access to additional training in aspects including presentation skills, time-management and project organisation skills, reviewing literature, thesis writing, data analysis and statistics   Applicants should ideally have previous experience in one or more of these areas.

How to Apply

We’d encourage you to contact Professor Diego Vazquez-Brust () to discuss your interest before you apply, quoting the project code.

When you are ready to apply, please follow the 'Apply now' link on the Business and Management PhD subject area page and select the link for the relevant intake. Make sure you submit a personal statement, proof of your degrees and grades, details of two referees, proof of your English language proficiency and an up-to-date CV.  Our ‘How to Apply’ page offers further guidance on the PhD application process. 

Please also include a research proposal of 1,000 words outlining the main features of your proposed research design – including how it meets the stated objectives, the challenges this project may present, and how the work will build on or challenge existing research in the above field. 

When applying please quote project code: SE&I4861021


Funding Notes

Self-funded PhD students only.
Please View Website for tuition fee information and discounts.

Email Now


Search Suggestions
Search suggestions

Based on your current searches we recommend the following search filters.