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PhD in Business and Management - Brand-to-brand dialogue on social media in a purpose-driven economy

   Cardiff Business School

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  Dr Zoe Lee, Dr Denitsa Dineva  No more applications being accepted  Self-Funded PhD Students Only

About the Project

Brand-to-brand dialogue on social media in a purpose-driven economy

What are the motives for and consequences of brands engaging in a dialogue with other brands on social media networks? How do consumers respond to such brand-to-brand (B2B) dialogue, especially when one brand praises its competitor? Conventional wisdom states that brands typically shy away from praising their competitors because this signals free publicity. Instead, brands engage in behaviours that criticise their competitors through brandjacking (Thota, 2021), brand parodies (Jean, 2011), and brand attacks (Thomas & Fowler, 2021). However, marketing scholars have begun to pay attention to competing brands praising one another (Zhou et al., 2021). This is especially true for broader societal and political issues such as, for instance, Marks & Spencers’ support for Sainsbury’s Christmas advert featuring people of colour and Shelter’s support for Barnardo’s White Privilege blog. Such strategies might be regarded as a form of activism by taking a stand on a divisive issue in a collective manner (Moorman,2020; Vrenderburg et al., 2020). Conversely, this phenomenon can be considered a carefully planned PR strategy to generate desirable customer behaviours and support.

This project aims to investigate different forms of B2B dialogue on social media networks (including praising) and the corresponding emerging activism on social media networks. Such insight will help to understand how these may influence corporate as well as individual outcomes.

We anticipate that this project will involve the use of mixed research methods such as, but not limited to online observational methods, experiments and/or surveys. Desirable characteristics of the candidate are openness to mixed methods research, interest in social media/digital marketing and brand management, and some knowledge of SPSS. Candidates deemed suitable to this research topic will be invited to collaboratively develop the full research proposal with the named PhD supervisors on this project.


Applications are invited from exceptional candidates with a first class or strong upper second class honours degree, or appropriate Master’s degree. The University values diversity and equality at all levels 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. Study is available as either ‘1+3’ (i.e. one full time year of research training Masters followed by three years of full-time Doctoral study), or ‘+3’ (i.e. three years of full-time doctoral study), depending on the needs of the applicant.

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

Please see references section for further details on how to apply. Applications should be made online, please visit the Business School website and click "apply now" Business Studies - Study - Cardiff University

Funding Notes

This project is not funded, applications from self-funded home and international students are welcome. Outstanding applicants from ANY country may be considered for one of the available University scholarships. The start date is 1st October 2022.
Applications are open until 1st April 2022, however if sufficient applications are received we reserve the right to close the application early.
For more information about scholarships, entry requirements and application process please visit our website


When applying, please specify the project title and supervisor of this project and whether you are self-funded or are applying for funding (within or external to the University).
The application must contain the following documents:
1. Covering letter: The covering letter must name the project being applied for and should be addressed to the supervisor. It must set out your reasons and motivation for applying to study at Cardiff University; 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.
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: The proposal should build directly on the project 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
This program is available in English only. To request information in Welsh, please contact the Postgraduate Recruitment Team (

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