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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 Strategy group welcomes applications from qualified candidates that are interested in conducting research into themes related to their research interests.

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

Faculty Advisor(s):

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

Faculty Advisor(s):

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

Faculty Advisor(s):
  • Jean-Philippe Vergne 
  • Tima Bansal
  • Michael King
  • Claus Rerup


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

Faculty Advisor(s):
  • Tima Bansal
  • Jean-Philippe Vergne 

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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