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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

  • Competitive advantage at the business and corporate levels
  • Corporate governance
  • Institutional and industry evolution
  • Organizational design and strategy implementation
  • Organizational learning and strategic renewal
  • Power and politics in organizations
  • Strategic leadership and human resource management
  • Technological Innovation

PhD Student Opportunities

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

Professors Mark Zbaracki and Lee Watkiss are recruiting PhD students with an interest in how choices get made in organizations. We gather archival data and data from interviews and interactions with managers to study how organizational decision-making processes change across context and time. We focus in particular on how experience and politics shape choice. We welcome PhD students to join our research group and contribute to a number of new projects. Specifically, we are looking for students to help us:

  • Explore how people create the situations they work in and how those situations then shape choices;
  • Consider how managers make sense of the complexity and ambiguity of decisions their companies face;
  • Create novel theory into how actors manage coalitions and sub coalitions to shape the outcomes of organizational choices.

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 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, forthcoming
  • 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)

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.

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. Ying-Ying Hsieh (2018 PhD)

Assistant Professor, Imperial College Business School

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):


Dr. Chethan D. Srikant (2016 PhD)

Assistant Professor, California State University

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):

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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