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"Research Centres of the Future" - Integration of human expertise and intelligent technologies: an organizational design approach

University of Liverpool Management School

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Dr P Ellwood , Dr Leighann Spencer No more applications being accepted Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About the Project

The ways in which intelligent technologies (i.e. artificial intelligence and robotics) will impact the future of work is a subject of significant debate. Such debates are evident in academic research (e.g. McClure, 2018) and policy circles (e.g. Arntz et al., 2016), as well as more general social discourse (e.g. Susskind & Susskind, 2015). This PhD research project aims to contribute to these debates by elucidating organisational principles to inform the design of work places and processes that incorporate intelligent technologies. The workplace that will be the venue for this project is the Leverhulme Research Centre for Functional Materials (LRC). This research centre is a collaboration involving state-of-the-art computational science and leading edge-chemistry research. This PhD project is part of a collaboration between the LRC and the Management School, led by Dr Paul Ellwood.

The methodology of this study is that of organisational design research (Auernhammer, 2020). This is an approach to empirical research that is human-centred, collaborative and informed by design thinking. The research will examine the relationship between organizational design interventions (such as those listed below) and their impact on research practices involving scientists from different disciplines, AI technologies and robots. Examples of organisational design elements include:

• The construction of buildings and work-spaces

• The layout of research spaces

• The ways in which scientists from different disciplines, research groups, universities and industries work in such spaces.

• The management of such centres

• The operational model of the technology infrastructure (Computing, Automation, materials research equipment).

This funded PhD opportunity will appeal to candidates who are interested in exploring the relationship between artificial intelligence, robotics and the future of work, and the particular challenges this creates for organising and managing complex inter-disciplinary research centres of the future.

Academic Entry Requirements:

Applicants should hold (or expect to be awarded in 2021) a First Class or high 2(1) BSc or BA degree in a relevant social sciences subject, a Masters degree in a cognate subject and a strong commitment to research. Strong communication skills (written and oral), together with organisation skills are essential.

Language requirements (For International and EU applicants only):

All applicants must have reached a minimum required standard of English language (IELTS 6.5 average overall and a minimum of 6.0 in each component), and, where relevant, are required to provide evidence of this. Qualifications accepted by the University include GCSE English; GCE O level English; AS Level English; A Level English Language; IELTS; Cambridge Proficiency etc. Please refer to the full list here.

Residency Entry Requirements:

The award is primarily available to UK students and will pay full tuition fees (£4,407 and a maintenance grant for 42 months (£15,609 for 2021/2022). EU and International students are eligible to apply but would need to have their own funding to cover the difference between the UK and international tuition fees. Please refer to our Fees and Funding webpage

Method of Application:

Applicants must complete all sections of the University Postgraduate Study Application Form. Applications to be made via the University of Liverpool Apply Online, system, selecting programme of study Management Studies. In the Finance section select funding source Sponsor and insert PHD-ULMS-LEVERHULME STUDENTSHIP 2021 in the box below. Also include this as the first line of your Personal Statement.

To apply for this research studentship, please apply online at the website: -, uploading the following supporting documents

·        a CV

·        copies of degree transcripts showing award

·        two academic references

·        a statement up to 2000 words explaining their interest in the subject outlined in the above advert.

If preferred, your referees may email references directly to us at the following email address: [Email Address Removed]  

Deadline: Friday 5th March 2021, 17:00 GMT

Further enquiries:

If you would like to discuss the studentship further please contact Dr Paul Ellwood ([Email Address Removed])

Formal application procedures are outlined here.

In addition to the contacts noted above, informal enquiries can also be directed to the ULMS Research Support Team ([Email Address Removed])

Funding Notes

This project is part funded by the Management School (50%) and the Leverhulme Trust (50%).


Arntz, M., Gregory, T. and Zierahn, U. (2016). "The Risk of Automation for Jobs in OECD Countries: a Comparative Analysis, Social, Employment and Migration". Working Paper 189, Paris: OECD.
Auernhammer, J. (2020), "Design Research in Innovation Management: a pragmatic and human-centered approach", R&D Management,
McClure, P.K. (2018), “You’re Fired,” Says the Robot: The Rise of Automation in the Workplace, Technophobes, and Fears of Unemployment", Social Science Computer Review, 36(2), 139-156.
Susskind, R. and D. Susskind, D. (2015). "The Future of the Professions". Oxford: Oxford University Press.

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