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INSEAD Course/Program Name
Application closes on
National :15 Dec
International :15 Dec

PhD Strategy

 Course Level
Full Time

5 Years
 Start month

 Tuition fee

60000 EUR
60000 EUR

Application fee

International 50 EUR
National 50 EUR
Scores accepted
IELTS (min)7.5
TOEFL-IBT (min)105
TOEFL-PBT (min)620
GRE (avg)325
GMAT (avg)702

World B-School Ranking

About this course

The Strategy group consists of resident, associated as well as visiting faculty based either in Abu Dhabi (UEA), Fontainebleau (France) or Singapore, devoted to excellence in research and teaching.

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Eligibility Criteria

Selection Criteria

  • Proven academic record - irrespective of subject background.
  • Creativity and Independent thought - necessary to become a great researcher.
  • Motivation, Determination and Drive - to follow through with goals.
  • Ability to work in English - as English is the sole medium of instruction at INSEAD

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Course Modules

The faculty of the Strategy area are concerned with the foundations of sustainable superior firm performance. Research in the field of strategic management stems primarily from two intellectual traditions.

One stream of thought is rooted in economics and uses insights about firms and industries gleaned from neoclassical, evolutionary, and institutional economics as a basis for understanding business strategy. The other tradition in strategic management combines strategy and organisational theory and focuses on the study of the leadership and the management of organisational processes that generate superior enterprise strategies.

INSEAD's Strategy group boasts a strong faculty representation in both of these intellectual traditions. Thus, it provides a diverse research environment in which PhD students are exposed to a stimulating breadth of theory and evidence on strategic management. Among the current research streams of INSEAD faculty are:

  • Resource-based view of the firm
  • Industry and competitive analysis
  • Interactions between product and financial markets
  • Corporate strategy in the multi-business firm
  • Strategy and organisation of multi-national companies
  • Corporate governance, strategy and innovation
  • Negotiation analysis
  • Real options theory and strategy
  • Culture of management teams
  • Post-acquisition integration processes
  • Strategic alliances
  • Corporate transformation processes
  • Strategic management in financial service firms
  • Capacity management in mature industries.
  • Resource deployment in horizontal acquisitions
  • Codification of knowledge and learning from acquisitions

Top business schools worldwide have welcomed PhD graduates from Strategy area, namely: Boston College, MIT Sloan School of Management, Purdue University, University of California at Irvine, and The Wharton School in the US;   HEC (Paris), IESE, and London Business School in Europe; and National University of Singapore, and Singapore Management University in Asia.

Advanced Courses

Competitive Strategy Research (A) and (B)

Part A - The Competitive Strategy Research (CSR) seminar is a required course for doctoral students in the strategy area. The course focuses on understanding the effect that strategy has on performance in a competitive environment. The seminar deals with major streams of research on business-level and competitive strategy. The objective is to elaborate the major theoretical mechanisms underpinning competitive strategy research, provide understanding of the evolution and frontier of research in various streams of competitive strategy, and develop a sense of emerging research opportunities in the area. The course takes a multidisciplinary approach, and we will draw from work in mainstream strategy and organisational theory, but also industrial economics, organisational economics, and some organisational sociology.
Part B  - This PhD seminar examines some of the central questions in the field of strategy research. This seminar is a required course for doctoral students in the strategy area at INSEAD.
The goals of the seminar are the following:
1. To familiarize with the main theoretical, empirical, and methodological traditions in strategy research.
2. To help develop the skills to understand, critique, and contribute to the field of strategy.
The course is informed by both economic and behavioural views of strategy. In order to cover a broad array of issues in strategy research, the readings are biased towards foundational and survey works, although most sessions include at least one empirical or modeling paper that exemplifies work that is done near the knowledge frontier. Because of the breadth of strategy research, a course like this is inevitably incomplete. Hence, the course aims to inform about the main conversations in the field, while students are responsible to master the specific literatures that matter to their research.

Corporate Strategy (A) and (B)

This doctoral seminar deals with the major streams of research on Corporate Strategy. In this seminar, the class will discuss fundamental issues in firm?s corporate strategy such as firm?s scope choice, methods of growth (internal development versus external sourcing), relationship between diversification and firm performance, portfolio restructuring and renewal.

Foundations of Strategy and Organisation

This class is the foundational course in the sequence of strategy offerings at the doctoral level. The starting point is the classic theories and thoughts in the area of strategy and organisation research. The fundamental topics to understand are why firms exist, what firms do, how firms evolve and survive, how firms compete, and how firms organise.
The material in the course lends itself to discussion as opposed to resolution. By analyzing alternative theoretical perspectives and debates among them, the class will develop understanding of the strengths and shortcomings of alternative theoretical frameworks for understanding the strategy of business enterprises. In particular, the class passes through three levels of analysis: the firm, the environment context, and inside the firm. The goal is to understand, synthesize, and in the future develop theories. By the end of the course, students should have an ability to understand the context of current debates in the strategy field. One of the desired skills students should learn at the end of this course is being able to read, evaluate, and use the articles that were read. The class hopes students will develop a mental map that integrates every piece of knowledge learned from these classic theories and in the future.

Innovation and Industrial Dynamics

This course will survey the literature on innovation and industry dynamics. It will draw from work in management, economics, and sociology to give a sense of the major themes, methods and findings in the innovation research. Since the class obviously cannot cover all of the work in this area in one course, it will focus on important papers and themes that will give a foundation in the area. At the end of the syllabus is a more comprehensive list of articles which may be read at one?s discretion to further pursue topics of interest.
Each week, the class will discuss in-depth the assigned readings, identifying strengths and weaknesses of the papers, drawing linkages or contrasts between ideas, and in general attempting to understand and integrate the existing research. Preparation and active participation are crucial to creating and harvesting the value of the course.

Readings and Research on Multinational Enterprises (A) and (B)

Part A - is designed with three objectives in mind. The first is to provide a survey of the literature on multinational enterprises. The second is to provide a nursery for the development of any MNE?related thesis ideas you may have. The third objective is to sharpen students scholarship skills. A critical reading of the materials assigned for each class should, by the end of the course, make them familiar with the accepted research methods in international business/management.
Part B - is designed to complement Part A by providing Ph.D. students with an overview of the strategic and organizational issues related to the management of MNEs and to enable them to develop the skills necessary to create, evaluate and integrate research in this field. As such, the seminar will focus on the substantive strategic and organizational challenges that are posed to the operationalization of MNE strategies and the integration of firms in global markets. It will place a special emphasis on examining the networked nature of the modern MNE, the evolution of the relationship between headquarters and subsidiaries, and how knowledge is accessed, transferred and integrated across borders. Throughout the seminar, the special methodological issues inherent in crossnational work will be discussed.

Strategic Management Process (A) (16) and (B) (8) 

Strategy process research is broadly concerned with how administrative systems and managerial decisions and actions influence the competitive advantage of firms.
In particular, it explores the how and why of strategic action, trying to build conceptual insights regarding the coherence, history, and ongoing development of a wide range of data, such as managerial behaviour, social and technological systems, business scope decisions, and inter-firm relations.
While strategy process research includes a concern for the competitive logic and efficacy of these firm features­what amount to the strategic positions of firms­it is distinguished by its dedication to the study of process: the temporal flows and developmental forces that come to shape what firms are and the advantages they construct.
This course provides an overview of the strategy process literature and philosophy. Our approach is unique in that we will avoid a framework that simply mimics the academic categories that are often associated with the field, such as the Dynamic Capabilities school or Knowledge-based view of the firm.
While we will give coverage to essential theories, we believe that a presentation of the SMP along academic fault lines alone tends to diminish the integrative quality, or at least integrative potential, of SMP research. Instead, the framework for this course is based upon the fundamental actions or processes that we believe are central to the SMP perspective and literature.
This should not only help focus your attention on actual management actions and practices­the essential raw ingredients for new research­but, in a sense, such an approach rests closer to the basic ambitions of the SMP field: to uncover, describe, and understand the processes behind competitive advantage.

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How to Apply

Supporting Documents

All supporting documents should be in electronic format and uploaded through our online application platform. Only selected candidates for admission will be asked to provide original copies to the PhD Office to secure their admission in the programme. Thus, no originals or hard copies of transcripts should be sent to the PhD Office prior to admission to the programme.

1. Photograph (passport sized) in JPEG or GIF format, uploaded to your profile.
2. Application fee (non-refundable) of 50 €, which is paid online by credit card. Your application will not be considered until the correct fee is received. 
3. Electronic copy of CV/Resume
4. Electronic copy of Official Transcripts of Grades and Diploma / Degree Certificates with certified translation in English, where applicable
5. Electronic copy of official GMAT or GRE score report
6. Electronic copy of original TOEFL score report. (Note: We do not accept IELTS score in lieu of the TOEFL; if any of your degree's medium of instruction is in English, the TOEFL requirement is automatically waived. Your transcripts from this degree will suffice as proof of waiver)
7. Supplementary information survey form that is accomplished and submitted online (part of your online application form, found under the Supporting Documents section).

Recommendation Letters

A maximum 3 Letters of Recommendation are required coming from faculty, scholars or individuals who can evaluate the applicant’s academic ability and potential for research and teaching. When requesting recommendations, candidates are asked to use the appropriate online forms. Only 3 electronic recommendation letters are required to complete the application.

On the section of Letters of Recommendation, applicants are requested to enter the details of referees, including the 'official' email address (official email addresses do not include gmail, yahoo, or hotmail email clients). Once done, applicants need to click on the link 'Send an email to your recommenders now'.

Important: Refrain from clicking more than once the 'Send an email to your recommenders now' link, to avoid unnecessary email requests sent to your referees.

Applying Online

All applications to INSEAD are fully electronic and must be submitted online. To successfully access the application, you must download or upgrade your browsers to the following minimum requirements: Internet Explorer 9 and above, Firefox 8 and above, Chrome 10, Safari 5 and above, and Opera 10 and above.

A complete application includes the following: duly accomplished online application form, e-copies (e.g. PDFs) of supporting documents and application fee of 50€. Incomplete applications (missing documents or pages of documents, information or payment) will not be considered by the PhD Admissions Committee.

The application form is comprised of:

1. Your Profile: personal information, test results, academic background, professional background, proficieny in the English language and other languages, international exposure and activities and interests.
2. Statement of Purpose or letter of motivation (1500 essay), stating current goals, career plans, reasons for being interested in the PhD Programme. In as much depth as possible, discuss study plans and intended area of specialisation. 
3. Statement of Integrity (by agreeing to the terms and conditions when submitting the application form)

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