ESRC PhD Studentship: ‘Delivering success in Scotland’s cities: harnessing competition and collaboration’

ESRC PhD Studentship: ‘Delivering success in Scotland’s cities: harnessing competition and collaboration’

The Universities of Glasgow and St Andrews have been awarded a PhD Studentship co-funded by the Economic and Social Research Council and the Scottish Government to commence as soon as possible and no later than 30 September 2013. The project will be jointly supervised by Dr Donald Houston, School of Geography & Geoscience, University of St Andrews; Professor Iain Docherty, Adam Smith Business School, University of Glasgow; and the Scottish Government.

The studentship will be embedded within the Scottish Cities Knowledge Centre, a joint initiative between the Universities of St Andrews and Glasgow. The SCKC has close links to the Scottish Cities Alliance (SCA), a collaborative initiative between Scotland’s cities overseen by the Scottish Government. The successful candidate will have direct access to senior policy-makers through the SCKC and the SCA.

Enquiries should be directed to Professor Iain Docherty (

Application procedure

We invite suitably qualified candidates to apply by 12 July 2013.

Please check that you meet the ESRC’s eligibility criteria before applying (see

To apply candidates should email Anne McCusker (via the ‘Apply’ button below) attaching the documents detailed below. In addition they should make a formal application for a PhD place at the University of Glasgow. Guidance on how to apply for a research degree and a link to the online application system can be found at:

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Candidates are required to complete ESRC’s Equal Opportunities Monitoring form (available at, which should be submitted as part of the application.

We expect applications to include:

  • Covering letter explaining why you wish to undertake this doctoral research
  • Research proposal of 1,500 words (expanding on the Project Outline below, including ideas of your own)
  • CV

Project Outline


In January 2012 the Scottish Government announced the creation of the Scottish Cities Alliance, with a dedicated investment fund for individual and collaborative initiatives in Scotland’s six cities (Aberdeen, Dundee, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Inverness, Stirling). This is both a recognition of the importance of these key settlements for Scotland’s success, and of the need for better investment in urban infrastructure, environment and services. Crucially for this research, it is also a recognition of the need for closer collaboration and co-ordination between Scotland’s cities.

The varied urban landscapes and relatively small size of Scotland’s cities presents a series of challenges and opportunities for urban policy and practice. Smallness sometimes points towards benefit from collaboration to pool resources, reach critical mass and maximise synergies. In some sectors, however, competition may be desirable to drive innovative thinking, sharpen marketing efforts and keep costs down.


  • Scope out the extent and nature of collaboration involving Scotland’s cities (spanning, city:city; city:hinterland; public:public; public:private; private:private; and local/national).
  • In what instances is competition preferable to collaboration and why?
  • What governance arrangements can facilitate effective collaboration?
  • How important is political will/engagement in fostering collaboration?
  • What national incentives and funding schemes can facilitate effective collaboration?
  • What roles do the private and voluntary sectors play in fostering collaboration (both within the private and voluntary sectors and in partnership with the public sector)?
  • What is the most appropriate scale at which to foster collaboration (geographically, e.g. number of cities/surrounding authorities; and in terms of scope/number of organisations/partners)?


  • Scoping of extent of collaboration (interviews and documentary analysis)
  • Assessment of advantages and disadvantages in terms of outcomes of collaboration (interviews)
  • Assessment of facilitators and obstacles to effective collaboration (interviews and non-participant observation at partnership/collaboration meetings)
  • Case studies of key collaborations
  • Develop typology of collaborative arrangements including extent, scale, scope, governance, partners, outcomes – use to analyse facilitators and obstacles to effective collaboration (outcome driven)

Techniques of analysis will include: discourse analysis, qualitative thematic coding, case study generalisation and non-participant observation.

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