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The Storyworld of Banca Transilvania: Animation and Orientation within a Changing Context (Advert Reference: SF21/BL/LHRM/COLLINS)

   Faculty of Business and Law

  Prof David Collins  Applications accepted all year round  Self-Funded PhD Students Only

About the Project

Nowadays most managers would tend to agree that managing others (whether this be colleagues, employees, stakeholders or indeed regulators) is a complex endeavour that is enabled through narrative processes of exchange. Yet such superficial agreement on the narrative processes of management tends a) to obscure key debates on the very nature of ‘the story’ and in so doing tends b) to elide controversies that arise in connection with ‘behaviourist’; ‘cognitive’ and ‘narrative’ appreciations of social organization. This proposal seeks a purposeful engagement with such debates and controversies and with the lived experiences of working through an examination of the storyworld of Banca Transilvania (a leading Romanian bank and now the largest bank in the whole of southern Europe). In this regard the research outlined here has an applied component and the potential for ‘impact’ insofar as it has been designed to challenge and to inform the bank’s executive as it wrestles with what might be termed the problem of success.

Banca Transilvania was formed in 1993 within the Romanian city of Cluj Napoca. The bank has grown steadily, often by working closely with customers, that other financial institutions simply would not entertain. The bank’s leadership has of course been ambitious throughout its history but even this grouping never imagined that the bank would be, by its 25th anniversary, the largest in Southern Europe with 550 branches, close to 10,000 employees and almost 2 million customers. While other commercial enterprises have struggled during the pandemic Banca Transilvania has continued to prosper, in part because it has become the preferred lender for those businesses that qualify for ‘bounce back loans’. 

While the bank’s core executive group welcomes this growth and the bank’s success, it has become concerned that the ethos and sense of community which enabled the bank to arise as a challenger to its larger competitors is becoming lost and/ or diluted. Furthermore they are concerned that the culture developed by the founders may no longer be suitable for a context wherein Banca Transilvania is, in many ways, an industry leader in southern Europe. Accordingly, the bank is keen to reflect formally upon its culture and upon the extent to which the stories that circulate in the bank usefully provide animation and orientation for established employees and for new entrants to the workplace.

The research proposed here, which builds upon qualitative methodologies utilised in previous research and upon consulting engagements, benefits from on-going discussions with Banca Transilvania and support at the most senior level. The research will engage with the core debates on organizational storytelling and in so doing will provide a map of the storyworld of this financial institution. This mapping will facilitate an exploration of the core themes/ preferences/ priorities that shape the experience of employment within Banca Transilvania and which set the context of current and future managerial attempts to direct and to motivate employees.

This research will, in short, offer a distinctive contribution to on-going academic debate in the arenas preoccupied with narrative and culture and, what is more, will impact meaningfully upon managerial practice in this context and beyond.

This project is supervised by Prof David Collins.

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. SF21/…) will not be considered.

Deadline for applications: Open

Start Date: March 2022 or October 2022

Northumbria University takes pride in, and values, the quality and diversity of our staff and students. We welcome applications from all members of the community.

Funding Notes

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


(2022) Tom Peters and Management: A History of Organizational Storytelling, Taylor and Francis, Routledge: London and New York.
(2021) The Organizational Storytelling Workbook: How to harness this powerful management and communication tool, Taylor and Francis, Routledge: London and New York.
(2021) Rethinking Organizational Culture: Redeeming culture through storytelling, Taylor and Francis, Routledge: London and New York.
(2018) Stories for Management Success: The power of talk in organization, Taylor and Francis, Routledge: London and New York.
(2015) ‘Between Maxwell and Micawber: Plotting the failure of the Equitable Life’, Accounting and Business Research 45 (6-7): 715-737.
(2012) ‘Women Roar: The “Women’s Thing” in the storyworld of Tom Peters’, Organization 19 (4): 405-424.

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