The Bath PhD
Meet our PhD students & graduates
Doing a PhD was a fascinating and invaluable experience. My time as doctoral student gave me an outstanding research training from which I acquired not only analytical tools but also personal development.
What made you decide to embark on a PhD?
Having completed a first degree in Industrial Engineering in Germany and an MSc in Management with specialisation in Operations Management at Bath, research relating to the management of complex, long-term supply relationships was an area of interest to me. I enjoyed the MSc in Management experience enormously and I had a real desire to further my knowledge in operations and strategic supply management issues.
I chose to do my PhD at Bath because it is a top university for management research and attracts a large number of international students. Studying and living in Bath, a stunning World Heritage city, is also a unique experience.
I was thrilled to be accepted as a researcher for the £5m government-sponsored project ‘Knowledge and Information Management’, working together with over 70 academics from 11 UK universities. Finally, I liked the idea of a large and complex project to tackle over quite a long time period.
Doing a PhD was a fascinating and invaluable experience. My time as doctoral student gave me an outstanding research training from which I acquired not only analytical tools but also personal development. A central element to this was the excellent guidance I received from my supervisors. They gave me constructive support and encouragement throughout my PhD.
What was your research about?
My PhD thesis, entitled ‘The scope and dynamics of inter-organisational governance: Contractual and relational mechanisms in supply arrangements’, investigated the dynamic interplay of contracts and trust in long-term supply relationships between buyers and product-service providers.
The empirical focus of my research concentrated on Public Private Partnerships in which a public buyer and private supplier jointly deliver public infrastructure projects such as the construction of a new hospital or road. This part of my PhD thesis built on empirical data from over 100 interviews, adding up to over 160 hours of recordings from various project stakeholders in six investigated inter-organisational relationships.
What kind of support did you have during your research?
The university offers a range of seminars to help you develop your research skills. Seminars ranged from deep ontological and epistemological discussions, and introductions to computer-based data analysis tools, to how to effectively write-up your research project. Moreover, different career development workshops and internal presentations to fellow PhD students will benefit your career and personal development.
The variety of development opportunities offered at the University of Bath allowed me to exchange research ideas with PhD students from various departments. I have found everyone at Bath to be very supportive which has greatly facilitated my integration into this new environment. All in all, the University of Bath offers a stimulating research community which will be vital for your PhD success.
What did you find most challenging about studying for your PhD?
The writing up part of my PhD process was most challenging for me. Bringing together the parts of your research - ranging from conceptual background, philosophical and methodological implications, to research findings and conclusions - into a coherent argument that would hold up under senior academics’ scrutiny is definitely a demanding task. Having spent years on developing and refining your PhD thesis, you may also find it difficult to finally let go and submit the PhD for your viva, as there might always be room for more honing.
What are you doing now that you have completed your PhD?
I am currently a Research Associate in the Innovation and Entrepreneurship Group at Imperial College Business School, Imperial College London. Undergoing rigorous research training, as offered by the University of Bath’s PhD programme, was essential for me to get the job I'm now doing.
Since starting at Imperial College London, my research interests have expanded beyond my original doctoral research to include themes such as innovation management and capability development in complex systems. My doctoral research also builds the backbone for various publications in peer-reviewed management journals and book chapters.
However, you don't have to become a researcher or lecturer if you do a PhD. Many companies such as consultancies employ people with doctorates, because of the strong analytical and writing skills acquired during PhD studies.
Do you have any advice for someone considering a doctorate?
You should ask yourself if you are capable of being extremely self-disciplined over an extended time period and fascinated by the research topic, or at least capable of developing a really strong interest in the subject.
Be prepared to be frustrated and determined in gaining access to organisations and individuals depending on your chosen research method. This process can take a substantial amount of time as some are inundated by requests from researchers which may prolong the process of collecting data. Don’t forget that being part of a vibrant research community can be really helpful to motivate you to get the research done. Finally, if you decide to embark on the PhD journey, enjoy it!