FindA University Ltd Featured PhD Programmes
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University of Sheffield Featured PhD Programmes
FindA University Ltd Featured PhD Programmes
FindA University Ltd Featured PhD Programmes

Social venturing phenomenon: drivers, impact and directions (SF19/EIS/BHOWMICK)

  • Full or part time
    Dr S Bhowmick
    Dr R Wanjiru
  • Application Deadline
    Applications accepted all year round
  • Self-Funded PhD Students Only
    Self-Funded PhD Students Only

Project Description

Non-governmental social sector working, from reviving orphan drugs for the poorest patients of the deadly black fever disease in India or Sudan to inner city poverty reduction in New York or London, defies traditional business based explanation. There is conflicting theorising in the field of social venturing with the argument of empathetic investing being juxtaposed with impact investing logic. Calling it social entrepreneurship has given it a research direction that views the social venturing phenomenon through the lens of entrepreneurship theories such as the entrepreneurial opportunity perspective, the innovation perspective or the perspective of the venture sponsor’s achievement motivation. However, there are many ambiguities including debates about the very definition of the social venturing phenomenon, the role of opportunity vis-à-vis need, the criticality of innovation in social venturing, etc., that need further exploration.

This PhD research project seeks to investigate the role of institutions and governance structures influencing social venture formation and growth beyond institutional failure as the cause of such ventures and the need for institutional change. It may explore the action to scale up and out, or scale deep, in the context of venture sustainability, and questions of mission drift and venture performance assessment.

The project will focus on social ventures in the UK. However, depending on the candidate’s interest and data access potential, a contextual country comparison study with the UK would be encouraged. Candidates are expected to outline a suitable potential methodological approach and justify its fit to the study as well as any potential limitations. Given the paucity of empirics in the field, an empirical data based research is likely to be of interest to academic researchers, practitioners and policymakers, and will be preferred.

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.

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. SF19/…) will not be considered.

Northumbria University takes pride in, and values, the quality and diversity of our staff. We welcome applications from all members of the community. The University holds an Athena SWAN Bronze award in recognition of our commitment to improving employment practices for the advancement of gender equality and is a member of the Euraxess network, which delivers information and support to professional researchers.

Funding Notes

Please note this is a self-funded project and does not include tuition fees or stipend.


Recent publications by supervisors relevant to this project:

Bhowmick, S. (2011). “Social Venturing as a Distinct Domain” Journal of Social Entrepreneurship, vol 2,1, pp 99-111

Bhowmick, S. (2014). “The leading edge of Inclusive Entrepreneurship: The case of Whale Watch Kaikoura” in J. Hayton, C. Salvato, & M. J. Manimala (Eds.), Global Entrepreneurship: Case Studies of Entrepreneurial Firms Operating Around the World, New York: Taylor & Francis. Academy of Management Global Casebook (with Spiller, C.)

Bhowmick, S. (2014). “Beyond Entrepreneurship in Social Venturing: Institutions for Societal Wellbeing” Presented at INBAM conference, Barcelona, 24-27 June 2014

Bhowmick, S. (2015) “Structurational Explication of Technology Adoption in ICT4D: A Throwback to Giddens, in Dey, Sorour, and Filleri (eds), ICT in Developing Countries: Research, Practice and Policy, Palgrave McMillan; October 2015

Bhowmick, S. (2018). Revitalising Sustainable Common Pool Resource: Watermills in Hill Communities of Uttarakhand in India, International Conference on Sustainable Energy and Environment Sensing, University of Cambridge, Cambridge city, United Kingdom, 18-19 June 2018. (with P. Dwivedi and A. Dwivedi)

Bhowmick, S. (2016) Co-creation of value at the bottom of the pyramid: Analysing Bangladeshi farmers’ use of mobile telephony. Journal of Retailing and Consumer Services, 29(2), 40–48 (with Dey, B., Pandit, A., Saren, M., & Woodruffe-Burton, H.)

Wanjiru R and Prime, K. (2018). Institutions, economic growth and international competitiveness: a regional study. In Castellani, Narula, Nguyen, Surdu & Walker (Eds). 2018. Contemporary Issues in International Business, AIB UKI Annual series, Palgrave Macmillan

Ado, A. Su, Z and Wanjiru, R. (2017). Learning and Knowledge transfer in Africa-China JVs: Interplay between Informalities, Culture, and Social Capital. Journal of International Management, 23(2), 166-179

Arakpogun, E., Wanjiru, R. and Whalley, J. (2017). Impediments to the implementation of universal service funds in Africa: a cross-country comparative analysis, Telecommunications Policy, 41 (2017), 617-630

Phelps, N.A., Stillwell, J.C.H and Wanjiru, R. (2009). ‘Broken Chain? AGOA and Foreign Direct Investment in the Kenyan Clothing Industry’, World Development, Vol. 37 (2), pp. 314-325

Phelps, N.A., Stillwell, J.C.H and Wanjiru, R. (2008). ‘Missing the GO in AGOA? Growth and constraints of foreign direct investment in the Kenyan clothing industry’ Transnational Corporations, Vol. 17 (2), pp. 68-105

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