Strategy is about creating and defending a 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. Strategic organizations are able to survive longer, perform better, and elicit favorable evaluations from their stakeholders, thereby shaping how industries change over time.

The Strategy group at Ivey consists of Mary Crossan, Rod White, Glenn Rowe, Mark Zbaracki, Laurina Zhang, Bryan Hong and Jean-Philippe Vergne. Their research examines competitive advantage at the business and corporate levels, learning and capabilities, organizational design and strategy implementation, innovation and leadership, institutions and industry evolution. Ongoing research projects look into a wide range of settings, such as music and book publishing, National Hockey League, aerospace & defense, cryptocurrency (bitcoin), manufacturing and service industries, finance, and the public sector.

*Please note that Strategy is a stream under General Management

Areas of Research Focus

  • Competitive advantage at the business and corporate levels
  • Learning and capabilities
  • Organizational design and strategy implementation
  • Innovation and leadership
  • Institutions and industry evolution

Our award-winning strategy faculty regularly publish in the field’s top journals, such as Academy of Management Journal, Academy of Management Review, Organization Science, Administrative Science Quarterly, Journal of International Business Studies, or Strategic Management Journal.

Post-graduate Opportunities

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.

Program Requirements

Students have program requirements, put into place by the PhD office, and discipline requirements, which are governed by the student’s respective area group. On a case by case basis, some students may be able to waive out of particular required courses or substitute others. Such a course of action must be approved by the PhD director

All PhD students must complete the following requirements.

  • Attend “stats boot camp” (end of August at start of Year 1).
  • Pass 9702 Multivariate Analysis in Year 1.
  • Pass 9712 Special Topics in Statistics before end of Year 2.
    *The content of this course varies by year. Students are encouraged to take the course twice.
  • Pass 9704 Research Methods in Year 1.
  • Earn 80% or more on 9723 Summer Research Paper before start of Year 2 - Direct Entry Admissions only (i.e. admitted with only an undergraduate degree)
  • Pass at least two PhD-level courses outside of Ivey before the end of Year 2 or before taking comprehensive exams, whichever is first. It is strongly recommended that at least one of these courses is an econometrics course.
  • Shadow an Ivey professor for an entire undergraduate or MBA course. The associated professor must agree to make this a learning experience for the student (e.g. have conversations about pedagogy, be available for questions about curriculum etc.) and to provide written confirmation to the PhD office of attendance; OR
  • Complete at least 20 hours of courses, workshops etc. at Western’s Teaching Centre.

*In consultation with the student, the respective PhD coordinator shall determine which option better suits the student's needs.

Discipline Requirements

To be completed before the comprehensive exam unless otherwise noted.

  • 9770 Business Strategy I (0.5 units)
  • 9771 Business Strategy II (0.5 units)
  • 9826 (OB) Organizational Theory (0.5 units)
  • Two of the following GM field courses (1 unit total):
    • 9703 International Management (0.5 units)
    • 9773 Business Sustainability (0.5 units)
    • 9775 Non-market Strategy (0.5 units)
    • 9777 Entrepreneurship (0.5 units)
  • For the elective courses, students are required to take 1 unit of rigorous, graduate-level methods courses (e.g., econometrics) and 1 additional unit of other graduate-level electives (e.g., other GM fields courses, courses from other area groups or courses from main campus). The goal is to have students take a minimum of four courses a semester. Students should consult their PhD coordinator to help select these additional courses. All students should take rigorous quantitative methods to assure success on the methods portion of their comprehensive exams. To a certain extent, coursework may be customized to particular student needs and skills on a case-by-case basis in consultation with the respective GM PhD coordinator.
  • Econ 2150 or 2260 Undergrad.
    *Preferably completed before comps exam. Waived for students with strong econ background, granted by the student’s respective PhD Coordinator.


These milestones are designed to ensure students make forward progress. A student who does not achieve these milestones within the required timeline may have their funding partially or fully cut or be withdrawn from the program.

This exam will be completed within 22 months of entering the program (normally written between June 1 and July 15 of Year 2). If the student fails this exam, he or she has up to one year to retake the exam. A second failure will result in being withdrawn from the program.

A student will chose a supervisor within one month of passing the comprehensive exam and will communicate the choice in writing to both the PhD coordinator and the PhD office, copying the supervisor.

Between passing comps and sitting the “Thesis Proposal Exam” (below), the student must form a Thesis Supervisory Committee (commonly referred to as the Proposal Committee). This committee consists of a supervisor and at least one (but usually two or three) additional faculty member. Each must be a member of SGPS and a majority of this committee must be composed of faculty who have doctoral-level membership with SGPS. At least one member of this committee must be confirmed by Dec. 31 of Year 3. The names of this committee are to be forwarded to the PhD office. This committee “assists in the development of the candidate's research plan and thesis proposal, provides advice and criticism on the planning and writing of the thesis…” (more)

This exam is sometimes referred to as the proposal defence. Students must pass this exam within 12 months of passing the comprehensive exam. There may be no less than three months between passing the Thesis Proposal Exam and sitting for the Thesis Exam (below).

This is effectively the last hurdle for PhD students that is commonly referred to as the thesis defence. Students have six years to finish their degree.

Discipline Coordinator

Jean-Philippe Vergne

Dr. Jean-Philippe Vergne ('JP') is an associate professor with a focus on organization theory and strategy.

JP's research examines how socially contested and/or illegal organizations affect the birth, death and renewal of industries operating at the vanguard of capitalist economies. In 2013, he published a book on the history of capitalism and piracy (The Pirate Organization: Lessons from the Fringes of Capitalism, Harvard Business Review Press, with R. Durand).

In recent years, JP’s research has focused on cryptocurrency, blockchain, and FinTech. He is the founding coordinator of the Crypto Capitalism Center and the co-Director of the Scotiabank Digital Banking Lab at Ivey Business School.

JP teaches strategy, a course on industry disruption by ‘pirate’ organizations, as well as modules focusing on FinTech in executive programs.

For more information, click on the link on the right to download JP's full CV.

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