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Transnational enterprises, geopolitical tensions, and economic sovereignty: responsible business and rebalancing the local with the global

Birmingham Business School

About the Project

Birmingham Business School (BBS) is renowned for the quality of its research. With over 200 lecturing and research staff, internationally recognized as authorities in their fields, our research contributes to academic debates and has worldwide impact. A Birmingham Business School Doctoral Scholarship is available to a candidate of the highest academic calibre who wishes to conduct doctoral-level study on a topic within the research areas of Strategy and International Business.

The recent escalation in geopolitical tensions and competition for technological leadership, or economic dominance, between the US, Europe and China have posed new challenges for transnational enterprises and have profound implications for their international strategies. Both the US and the EU have implemented policies intended to rebalance global production and to reduce national risks related to over dependency on suppliers located in foreign countries. An excellent example is the current EU strategy to ensure that 20% of the global supply of computer chip production is located within the EU by 2030. One response has been from Intel which is investing $7bn in Ireland and creating 1,600 jobs with the creation of a new chip manufacturing facility.


This research project aims to examine the impacts of interstate relations and ideological conflicts between MNEs’ home country and host countries focusing on the management of geopolitical risks and knowledge management strategies positioned within the emerging political debate on economic sovereignty. It will unpack the mechanisms through which MNEs respond to political instability and economic uncertainty in their international operations by engaging with diverse stakeholders and implementing market and non-market strategies. These non-market strategies include framing production strategies and the configuration of global supply chains within accounts of responsible business and working with governments to support the emerging national agenda on economic sovereignty. The project will be based on both quantitative and qualitative analysis of core sectors that have been identified by the US, Europe and China as being of strategic national importance.


A successful applicant is expected to have a very good undergraduate degree: a minimum of a 2:1, and preferably a first class honours. They should also hold, or expect to achieve, a very good Master’s degree (at least a merit and preferably at distinction level) in a Business or relevant subject. Their references will attest to qualities of academic achievement and research potential that make the candidate stand out above their peers. They may have already won academic prizes within their home institutions and /or internationally.

Applications will be assessed on (a) the quality of the student’s academic achievements and preparedness for doctoral level study; (b) the quality of the research proposal; (c) the potential to contribute to cutting edge research; and (d) the match of the proposal to areas of research strength within Birmingham Business School. Guidance on preparing a research proposal is attached. Since we are particularly keen to build on existing areas of research strength, all applicants are strongly advised to contact potential supervisors and to discuss their proposal with them prior to online submission.

How to apply

Potential candidates for the Birmingham Business School Doctoral Scholarship must have an offer of a place to study for a PhD. If you do not already have an offer, you must apply by 30 April 2021 and mark your electronic application Birmingham Business School Scholarships.  At the same time, you should send a separate Birmingham Business School Scholarship application form, which can be downloaded along with your research proposal, to Dr Danny McGowan, Director of the Doctoral Programme () and mark your email ‘Birmingham Business School Scholarships’. 

For further information on the application process, please contact the Business School: .

Funding Notes

A full scholarship is equivalent to an ESRC studentship and covers home fees (£4,500 p.a.) plus a living allowance (stipend) of £15,609 per annum for three years, subject to satisfactory progress. For applicants outside the UK or without settled status, a full scholarship equates normally to £20,109 covering full fees and providing a contribution towards living expenses.

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