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Theoretical and Empirical Studies on the Dynamic Diffusion of Low Carbon Innovations: the Perspective of Socio-technical System Evolution

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  • Full or part time
    Dr L Qian
  • Application Deadline
    Applications accepted all year round
  • Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)
    Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

Project Description


Principle supervisor: Dr. Lixian Qian (Xi’an Jiaotong-Liverpool University)
Co-supervisor: Dr. Dong Li.(University of Liverpool, UK); Dr. Juelin Yin (Xi’an Jiaotong-Liverpool University)

The candidate should have a first class or upper second class honours degree, or a master’s degree (or equivalent qualification), in management, economics, marketing, innovation management and environmental science. Evidence of good spoken and written English is essential. The candidate should have an IELTS score of 6.5 or above, or an equivalent qualification, if the first language is not English. This position is open to all qualified candidates irrespective of nationality.

The student will be awarded a PhD degree from the University of Liverpool (UK) upon successful completion of the program.

Project Description:
Currently, China is facing urgent needs to implement sustainable development. Low carbon innovations have key characteristics of dynamic uncertainty, multiple innovations co-existing with different levels of innovativeness, and network externalities during the innovation diffusion process. In the perspective of social-technical system evolution, this project will deeply explore the dynamic diffusion patterns of low-carbon innovations and their key influencing factors. Following the research guideline of “using theories to guide empirical studies and employing empirical evidences to refine theories”, this study will conduct three rounds of investigation at multiple levels. First of all, this research will theoretically build up complex socio-technical system of low carbon innovations based on the current knowledge and foreseeable trends. Next, by integrating segmental preferences to low carbon innovations and market structural change patterns, this research will develop an analytical model of low carbon innovation diffusion based on the heterogeneous preferences in segmental markets. Then, this research will conduct empirical studies in the new energy car market in China, which is of strategic importance and market representativeness, and examine the influences of a wide range of factors in socio-technical system on the diffusion of different new energy cars. Finally, this research will use the empirical results and the up-to-date development of low carbon innovations to drive the next round of theory development, which will update the socio-technical system of low carbon innovations. Through such iteration cycles from theories, methods to empirical study, this project will develop a key knowledge-creating tool for better driving the diffusion of low carbon innovations. Therefore, this project will provide both theoretical contributions and practical implications for accelerating the diffusion of low carbon innovations and facilitating low carbon transition in China.

This project is funded by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (Project No. 71573213).
For more information about doctoral scholarship and PhD programme at Xi’an Jiaotong-Liverpool University (XJTLU): Please visit

How to Apply:
Interested applicants are advised to email the following documents to [email protected] (please put the project title and primary supervisor’s name in the subject line).
- CV
- Two reference letters
- Personal statement outlining your interest in the position
- Proof of English language proficiency (an IELTS score of above 6.5 or equivalent is required
- Verified school transcripts in both Chinese and English (for international students, only the English version is required)
- Verified certificates of education qualifications in both Chinese and English (for international students, only the English version is required)

Informal enquiries may be addressed to Dr. Lixian Qian ([email protected]), whose personal profile is linked below:

Funding Notes

The PhD studentship is available for three years subject to satisfactory progress by the student. The award covers tuition fees for three years (currently equivalent to RMB 80,000 per annum) and provides a monthly stipend of 3500 RMB as a contribution to living expenses. It also provides up to RMB 16,500 to allow participation at international conferences during the period of the award. It is a condition of the award that holders of XJTLU PhD scholarships carry out 300-500 hours of teaching assistance work per year. The scholarship holder is expected to carry out the major part of his or her research at XJTLU in Suzhou, China. However, he or she is eligible for a research study visit to the University of Liverpool of up to three months, if this is required by the project.

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