PhD Studentship Creating a business excellence culture: A study of SME companies in the North East of England

Interest is sought for a Northumbria University funded full-time PhD student at Newcastle Business School, to study ‘benchmarking and business excellence within the SME sector of north east England’. It is a fantastic opportunity to join the Business and Organizational Excellence research group led by Professor Teresa Waring and Professor Fraser McLeay and build on the academic work of Dr Andy Robson and Dr David Yarrow.

The major thrust of research in benchmarking has been the development of theoretical frameworks and models. More recently these have included a performance model incorporating benchmarking with employee motivation (Goncharuk & Monat, 2009), the use of structuration theory as a benchmarking tool (Gao & Li, 2010), a framework for strategic deployment (Saunders, Mann & Smith 2007), a stakeholder-based model for sustainability (Zhao & Choma, 2012), and a model based on leading and lagging key performance indicators for construction projects (Yeung, Chan, Chan, Chiang and Yang, 2013). A number of articles address the issue of performance by developing a benchmarking framework; for example, Gomes and Yasin (2011) integrate of a number of other frameworks to address performance, management and improvement in SMEs, whilst Deros, Tan, Ab. Rahman and Daud (2011) present benchmarking guidelines and a conceptual model to assist in achieving better performance.

In terms of business excellence the focus of the academic literature has been on the implementation and use of Business Excellence Models. For example Sampaio, Saraiva and Monteiro (2012) compared the usage of four BE models: the European Foundation for Quality Management, the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award, the Deming Prize model, and the Iberoamerican Model for Excellence in Management, and found that, although they had similar principles and criteria, their adoption patterns across the world were different.

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From a methodological perspective data collection could be via either a quantitative or qualitative approach as there is a tradition of mixed methods within both the benchmarking and business excellence academic community. However the applicant must be prepared to engaged with SMEs in the north east of England and to explore how a business excellence culture develops within or is developed by the organizations. 

For further details contact Professor Teresa Waring ( or Dr Andy Robson (

You should apply using the University’s Research Application Form via the ‘Apply’ button below. Applications should be submitted to Sarah Jukes, Programme Support Co-ordinator, via email to: For any queries relating to applications, please contact Sarah Jukes via this email address.

Deadline for applications: 13 December 2013
Interviews will be held during January 2014
The project start date will be in February 2014

Funding Notes:
This is one of eight projects advertised in competition for two funded studentship places. Applicants should only apply to one of the eight projects advertised.

Each studentship place is funded by Northumbria University, and includes a full stipend, paid for three years at RCUK rates (in 2013/14 this is £13,726 pa) and Home/EU fees.

Applications for this project are welcome from suitably qualified candidates worldwide; however non-EU nationals will have to pay the difference between the home tuition fees and the overseas tuition fees. 

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