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Strategy is concerned with creating and defending an organization’s competitive advantage in changing environments. To be successful, organizations must leverage and renew their resources, competencies and leadership skills, sometimes in multiples industries at the same time. Such organizations are able to survive longer, perform better, and elicit favorable evaluations from their stakeholders, thereby shaping how industries change over time.

The faculty (Bob Andersen, Oana Branzei, Mary Crossan, Cara Maurer, Krista Pettit, Glenn Rowe, Lee Watkiss, and Mark Zbaracki) and doctoral students of the Strategy group at Ivey engages these wide-ranging phenomena in their research, course development, and teaching by drawing on multiple disciplines, including economics, psychology, political science, and sociology. The goal of this engagement is to advance the academic study of strategy and related disciplines while helping managers to improve their strategic decisions. Their research is published in top management journals including Academy of Management Journal, Academy of Management Review, Administrative Science Quarterly, Organization Science, and Strategic Management Journal.

The program emphasizes a strong foundation in strategic theory, research methods, and statistics. Students are exposed to both classic and recent scholarly work in order to expose them to the key paradigms, to help them to build mental models of different theoretical perspectives, and to develop a keen appreciation of the interconnectedness of the different research streams in the field of strategic management.

During the first two years of the program, students take a set of complementary courses in strategic management theory at the business-unit, corporate, and global levels, organizational theory, and others drawn from across the social sciences. Students also take a series of research methods courses including statistical and econometrical techniques as well as the option to take qualitative methods courses. Other aspects of the program are tailored to fit the student’s own research and teaching interests.

Throughout the doctoral program, students engage in research both independently and in collaboration with faculty. Between the second and third years of the program, students complete a major, independent, empirical research project. All students are encouraged to present their research at academic conferences as well as to submit articles to top-tier research journals for peer review. Students graduate as creative, independent scholars with the skills necessary to conduct cutting-edge research in the field of strategy and related disciplines.

The doctoral program in Strategy is designed to produce scholars. We train our graduates to become academics in a university setting. We aim to produce researchers and teachers. If your interest is consulting, industry, or other non-university sector employment, you would be better to pursue an MBA or MSc degree.

*Please note that Strategy is a stream under General Management

Areas of Research Focus

  • Inequality, diversity and justice in business
  • Organizational learning and strategic renewal
  • Power and politics in decision-making and learning
  • Strategic decision-making
  • Strategic leadership and human resource management
  • Strategy implementation
  • Technological innovation

PhD Student Opportunities

The doctoral program in Strategy is recruiting students with the following research interests.

Professor Bob Andersen is recruiting PhD students with an interest in the inter-relationship between inequality, diversity and business. Although most of my own research is quantitative, I am also open to supervise qualitative projects. In terms of specific topics, I am interested in working with students who would like to explore: a) The role that firms have played in the increase in income inequality over the past few decades (and especially cross-national differences); b) How inequality and diversity within firms affect productivity and/or innovation; and c) How cross-national differences in economic and political conditions influence organizations’ strategy.

Professor Mary Crossan is recruiting a PhD student interested in focusing on leader character, organizational learning and strategic renewal. My research is not limited by discipline boundaries. My ultimate interest is to contribute to research and practice on the drivers of sustained excellence in organizations and ultimately society. This pursuit has led me into the areas of organizational learning for strategic renewal, improvisation as it relates to strategic agility and innovation, and more recently the foundational role of examining the strength of character (e.g. courage, humility, humanity, transcendence, drive, integrity, etc.) as it relates to both individual well-being and sustained excellence in organizations. I am a Distinguished University Professor at Western, which is Western’s highest honour recognizing sustained excellence in research, teaching and service. I have an excellent track record working with doctoral students, and collaborate with many Ivey faculty and faculty around the world in my research endeavors. Sample publications:

  • Pettit, K.; Crossan M. "Strategic renewal: Beyond the functional resource role of occupational members", Strategic Management Journal, 2020, 41:1112-1138.
  • Crossan, M.; Apaydin, M.  A Multi-Dimensional Framework of Organizational Innovation: A Systematic Review of the Literature, Journal of Management Studies, 2010, 47 (6), 1154-1191. (Top 10 downloaded article since 2013)
  • Crossan, M.; Byrne, A.; Seijts, G. Reno, M.; Monzani, L., Gandz, J.: "Toward a Framework of Leader Character in Organizations" Journal of Management Studies, vol. 54 (7) 986-1018, January, 2017.
  • Crossan, M.; Lane H.; White, R.E. "An Organization Learning Framework: From Intuition to Institution"; Academy of Management Review; vol. 24, no. 3, 522-537,1999. (received the decade award from AMR in 2009 as the most highly cited paper in the prior decade)

Professors Krista Pettit and Mary Crossan are recruiting for a co-supervision of PhD students with a research interest in the area of strategic renewal/change and strategy-as-practice. Topics within this research area can range broadly but will focus on the role of processes and practices in organizational strategy.  Students with an interest in examining how organizations purposefully shape elements of their social context and how these activities affect strategic change and renewal are particularly welcome.

Professor Mark Zbaracki is recruiting PhD students interested in how Artificial Intelligence is shaping managerial practice, with a special focus on how AI applications to pricing have implications for issues of justice. Firms have learned to use supercharged pricing algorithms to maximize profit and gain competitive advantage, but the application of AI to pricing can also have profound social implications. I am exploring how firms consider the concerns of justice and strategy when they use AI to enhance their pricing decisions. Sample research includes:


Professors Mark Zbaracki and Lee Watkiss are recruiting PhD students with an interest in studying how interpretation and politics shape strategic decision-making and learning. This stream of research, revisits earlier work (Strategic Decision Making) and is being extended in research with a current PhD student, Cameron McAlpine. Our approach has three components:

PhD Graduates

Strategy is one of five possible specializations within Ivey’s General Management PhD program. The Strategy specialization is designed for those interested in pursuing academic careers at top business schools in Strategy, Management, or Organization departments.

Dr. Andrew Sarta (2021 PhD)

Research Fellow, Univeristy College London

Dr. Andrew Sarta
PhD Dissertation:

Refining Adaptation and Its Onset: Signals of Financial Innovation that Trigger Strategic Attention in Financial Services

Organizational adaptation is one of the most important concepts in strategic management. Historical conceptions suggest that without it, organizations are likely to succumb to inertia in dynamic environments and with it, organizations are likely to thrive. Despite its rich scholarly history, organizational adaptation continues to lack clarity and is often conflated with market entry, performance, or survival. More importantly, managers do not have a meaningful way to determine whether their organization is well-adapted or maladapted. Knowing when organizations begin to adapt to their changing environments subsequently becomes a difficult question to answer. In this thesis, I develop much-needed clarity to the concept of organizational adaptation while also examining its origins... Read more about this thesis


Dr. Nuruddin Ahmed (2021)

Postdoctoral Associate, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Dr. Nuruddin Ahmed
PhD Dissertation:

Two Essays On Innovation In Artificial Intelligence: Corporate R&D And Firm-level Publications Strategy

Corporate research and development (R&D) plays an important role in firm-level innovation strategies. To maintain competitive advantage, firms tend to disclose their internal research strategically. Essay 1 of this dissertation examines what motivates firms to publish more papers in Artificial Intelligence (AI). Combining two disparate literatures— R&D disclosure strategy and strategic human capital literature— I argue that scientists have a preference to publish research and when scientists have higher bargaining power, firms tend to disclose more internal research to recruit talent. To test my propositions, I use a comprehensive dataset of 200 million US job postings (from Burning Glass Technologies) and.... Read more about this thesis


Dr. Ying-Ying Hsieh (2018 PhD)

Assistant Professor, Imperial College Business School

Dr. Ying-Ying Hsieh
PhD Dissertation:

The Rise of Decentralized Autonomous Organizations: Coordination and Growth within Cryptocurrencies

The rise of cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin is driving a paradigm shift in organization design. Their underlying blockchain technology enables a novel form of organizing, which I call the “decentralized autonomous organization” (DAO). This study explores how tasks are coordinated within DAOs that provide decentralized and open payment systems that do not rely on centralized intermediaries (e.g., banks). Guided by a Bitcoin pilot case study followed by a three-stage research design that... Read more about this thesis


Dr. Chethan D. Srikant (2016 PhD)

Assistant Professor, California State University

Dr. Chethan D. Srikant
PhD Dissertation:

Social Barriers to Entry: Liquefied Natural Gas Import Terminals in the US from 2000 to 2013

Management scholars recognize the uncertainties and challenges during the market entry process that can impede operational startup. However, very little empirical research exists to fully understand these challenges and explain firm responses. Even less attention has been paid to the threats from non-market actors and the countering strategies employed by firms. Hence, this thesis explores firm reactions to community contestation, as a form of social barrier to entry that can prevent the firm from exploiting market opportunities. Specifically, I consider the strategic implications of firms’ rhetorical responses to community contestation during the market entry process. For this thesis, U.S. liquefied natural gas (LNG) industry (2000–2013) is an appropriate context because only 26 out of the 59 proposed LNG import terminals could even get to the regulatory approval stage... Read more about this thesis

Discipline Coordinator

Lee Watkiss

Lee Watkiss draws on organizational theory and cultural analysis to explore how firms can influence the creation and alteration of the product and market categories they inhabit as well as how these categories provide stability for firms as they navigate turbulent environments.

Lee holds a Ph.D. from the Carroll School of Management at Boston College. Earlier in his career, he worked in diverse fields including engineering, professional services, and executive education in both multinational (e.g., Arthur Andersen and Deloitte & Touche) and small start-up ventures in the United Kingdom and the United States. In these roles, Lee advised and consulted for organizations across the technology, finance, energy, healthcare, insurance, manufacturing, media, real estate, retail, telecommunications, and transportation industries, including many of Fortune magazine’s “World’s Most Admired Companies.”

Lee currently teaches Strategic Analysis and Action and Cross-Enterprise Leadership in the HBA program, and Ivey Essentials - Strategy in the MSc program. He also teaches in the Ivey Frontline Leadership Program. While at Boston College, he received both the Donald J. White Teaching Excellence Award and the Carroll School of Management All Star Teacher Award for his teaching in the undergraduate program.

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