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The Intelligent Organisation: Designing and Prototyping Future Core Competences and their Application to Micro-Enterprises

Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art and Design

About the Project

Working Hypothesis: ‘A micro-enterprises capacity to innovate is influenced by its ability to identify and enact potential future core competencies’.

The future success of Micro-Enterprises will depend on their ability to be flexible and adaptive to change so as to renew and transform over time as they continuously respond to their current environments. However, initiating this transformation will require them to adopt new ways of thinking and working. Not only that, the impact of the coronavirus (COVID-19) is being felt by all businesses around the world. Leaders are navigating a broad range of interrelated issues that span from keeping their employees and customers safe, reorienting operations and navigating complicated government support programs. More work clearly needs to be done on the new versions of Micro-Enterprises.

This PhD study is at the interface of design, business and innovation management and aims to investigate how design-led approaches might play a role of transformational change by prototyping future core competencies inside Micro-Enterprises.

The objectives of this research are as follows:
• To establish a context from the literature on design and innovation from a strategic management perspective.
• To study the theoretical and empirical work on the Resource Based View (RBV) of the organisation, paying particular attention to the role of core competencies as an approach to strategy (i.e. identification, development and management).
• To apply a number of qualitative research methods to elicit individual and organisational attitudes, opinions and ideas on potential future core competencies like friendships, meaning and happiness in a range of existing enterprises.
• To design and develop a range of tactical and strategic frameworks, methodologies and toolkits to help identify, cultivate and exploit potential future core competencies in the workplace.
• To pilot and prototype these frameworks, methodologies and toolkits on a sample of micro-enterprises (no more than three) and to devise suitable evaluative procedures for assessing these outcomes.
• To evaluate the insights and empirical data to establish a knowledge transfer protocol for micro-enterprise business support.

There will also be a unique opportunity to work alongside the Design for Business programme at the V&A Museum Dundee, gaining access to local micro-enterprises and business networks.

Applicants must have obtained, or expect to obtain, a first or 2.1 UK honours degree, or equivalent for degrees obtained outside the UK in a relevant discipline.

English language requirement: IELTS (Academic) score must be at least 6.5 (with not less than 5.5 in each of the four components). Other, equivalent qualifications will be accepted. Full details of the University’s English language requirements are available online:


Informal enquiries should be sent to the Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art & Design Research Admin Office at . Please send a copy of your CV.

Funding Notes

There is no funding attached to this project. The successful applicant will be expected to provide the funding for tuition fees and living expenses, via external sponsorship or self-funding.


Bains, G. (2007) Meaning Inc: the blueprint for business success in the 21st Century. London: Profile Books.

Baker, D., Greenberg, C. and Hemingway, C. (2007) What happy companies know. New York: Prentice Hall.
Christensen, C-M (2016) The innovator's dilemma (management of innovation and change).

Boston, Massachusetts, USA: Harvard Business Review Press.

Grzeskowitz, I. (2019) The changemaker mindset: how innovation and change start with inner transformation. Florida, USA: Mango Publishing Group.

Le Masson, P., Weil, B. and Hatchuel, A. (2010) Strategic management of innovation and design. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

McMaster, M-D. (1995) The intelligence advantage: organising for complexity. UK: Knowledge Based Development Co Ltd.

Prahalad, C-K. and Hamel, G. (1990) The core competence of the corporation. Harvard Business Review, May/June, 68, 79-91.

Rath, T. (2015) Vital friends: the people you can’t afford to live without (Audiobook). Michigan, USA York: Brilliance Audio.

Robson, C. and McCartan, K. (2016) Real world research. Chichester, West Sussex, UK: John Wiley & Sons.

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