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At the Faculty of Social Science, Business School at Aalborg University’s campus in Aalborg a PhD stipend is available within the innovation management programme. The position is open for appointment from 1 December 2021 or as soon as possible thereafter.

Job description

The aim of the PhD project is to contribute to our understanding of the cooperative mechanisms, the strategies of mitigating the collaboration tensions and managing knowledge sharing/protection in the innovation collaboration between SMEs and MNEs from developed and emerging economies and in the renewable energy industries.

Confronted with increasing environment pollution and depleting natural resources, many countries around the global endeavor to reduce fossil energy consumption and promote renewable energies. This requires technological innovation and collaboration not only among MNEs but also between MNEs and SMEs from both developed and emerging countries within renewable energy industries such as wind power and solar.  A single organization hardly innovate in isolation and the realization of many UN Sustainable Development Goals (especially goal 7 of affordable and clean energy that is pertinent to this project) also require cross firm, cross-border collaborations and sharing of knowledge, as also indicated by UN goal #17 of “partnerships for the goals”. MNEs and SMEs in the renewable industries are usually tightly linked and co-innovate, creating an almost symbiotic relationship between them. For instance, it is interesting to see more than 500 wind power companies have gathered in this small country (Denmark) with an area of only 40,000 m2, competing with each other and cooperating for a win-win situation, including MNEs and SMEs from emerging and developed markets.

SMEs may pursue the participation in joint innovation with larger corporations in order to gain easier access to resources for growth while the MNEs extend their R&D through the SMEs’ specific knowledge and competences within a certain area. We see the necessity and benefits of collaboration, knowledge sharing, and open innovation. However, the firm’s technological innovation and exclusive knowledge are also becoming the main forces that will determine their position, bargaining power in the network and their international competitiveness, and thus should be carefully protected especially for SMEs. Research have shown cases of larger companies taking knowledge from cooperation with SMEs, leaving them to face closure. Meanwhile, MNEs from developed and emerging economies are involved in a race to access the knowledge/resources they lack to complete their resource/knowledge bundle. Therefore, there are both competition and collaboration, both knowledge sharing and protection and there can be role conflicts, power plays and opportunism in the collaboration.  How to handle the tensions, the dark side of collaboration, and balancing strategies in the coopetition between SMEs and MNEs and/or cross-national competitive innovation relationships become a promising research area.

The PhD student is expected to develop his/her research proposal around this direction.

The PhD student will be enrolled at the Doctoral School of the Faculty of Social Sciences, Aalborg University and will be attached to the research group of International Business. The applicant will also be enrolled as a PhD student at the University of Chinese Academy of Sciences (UCAS) with the possibility to obtain a double degree. The position will also be attached to the Sino-Danish Centre (SDC) in Beijing. (http://sdc.university), and Aalborg University is the lead university of the SDC Innovation Management programme.

The candidate is expected to stay in China for a total period of 12 months (with the possibility to divide the months into shorter stays over the period of three years) to support SDC MSc programme in Innovation Management and to conduct research at UCAS. 

A high level of written and spoken English is required. As part of the PhD program, the candidate needs to contribute to teaching at the Aalborg University Business School (AAUBS) and Sino-Danish Center (SDC).
The positions are not available for Chinese citizens.

Qualification requirements

The PhD scholarship has a duration of three years. Applicants to the PhD scholarship must hold a degree equivalent to a Danish Master’s degree. Applicants enrolled at a Danish Master programme who expect to graduate before the date of appointment must forward statement from thesis supervisor, verified transcripts, a copy of thesis contract and documentation for the date of their final exam.

The completion of the scholarship will be in accordance with the Ministerial Order on the PhD Programme at the Universities No 1039 of 27 August 2013 (the PhD Order), and it is a prerequisite for allocation of a scholarship that enrolment as a PhD student at the Doctoral School of Social Sciences takes place. According to the PhD Order, the PhD study comprises among other requirements: Participation in active research environments, including stays at other, mainly foreign, research institutions, private research enterprises etc.

Please find information on admission requirements for PhD positions on the website of the Doctoral School.
Application requirements
  • letter of motivation
  • Application form
  • project proposal (approx. 5 pages) containing the research project title, an outline of the course of study and a description of the overall problem areas
  • information on which language the PhD thesis is expected to be written in
  • curriculum vitae
  • diplomas confirming academic degrees (Master degree), including academic transcripts
  • Applicants WHO are planning to complete a doctoral thesis in English and who do not have English as a first language or WHO have not completed an English language-based Master's programme (or an equivalent educational achievement in English) shall provide documentation that they have passed one of the following official tests with the respective minimum score: IELTS (band score):7 TOEFL (paper-based): 600, TOEFL (internet-based): 100. 
  • Co-author statement. If publications that have been written in cooperation with others are submitted, a declaration from each of the authors must be enclosed. The declaration must state the extent of the applicant’s contribution to the total work and be signed by the authors.
  • Application for credit transfer if relevant.
The complete application including attachments shall be sent electronically by selecting the "apply online" function on AAU’s job-portal https://www.stillinger.aau.dk/ (not other online job portals that may have reposted the position).
Please note that zipped files are not supported by the recruitment system, please upload only Word or PDF files.

Shortlisting will be applied. This means that subsequent to the deadline for applications the head of department supported by the chair of the assessment committee will select candidates for assessment. All applicants will be informed whether they will be assessed or not.

The Faculty draws your attention to the fact that the applicant's project description may be tested for plagiarism in the IT system iThenticate.
You may obtain further information regarding the academic contents of the position from Associate Professor Daojuan Wang,
email: daw@business.aau.dk, Phone: +45 99402716.

If you have questions regarding the procedure of applying for the position, please contact Mette Bjerring, email: mb@adm.aau.dk.


Appointment and salary as a PhD fellow are according to the Ministry of Finance Circular of 26 June 2019, on the Collective Agreement for Academics in Denmark, Appendix 5, regarding PhD fellows, and with the current Circular on the employment structure at Danish Universities. AAU wishes to reflect the diversity of society and welcomes applications from all qualified candidates regardless of personal background or belief.

Vacancy number



Tue Nov 02 00:00:00 CET 2021

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