PhD position in the field of Digital disruption and corporate divestitures


Faculty of Economics and Business


University of Groningen

Job description

Since its foundation in 1614, the University of Groningen has enjoyed an international reputation as a dynamic and innovative center of higher education offering high-quality teaching and research. Belonging to the best research universities of Europe and joining forces with prestigious partner universities and networks, the University of Groningen is truly an international place of knowledge.

Faculty of Economics and Business
The Faculty of Economics and Business offers an inspiring study and working environment for students and employees. International accreditation enables the Faculty to assess performance against the highest international standards. It also creates an exciting environment of continuous improvement. FEB's programmes, academic staff and research do well on various excellence ranking lists.

The graduate school of the Faculty of Economics and Business has one PhD position available in the field of Digital disruption and corporate divestitures: threat or opportunity?

Project description
The 2018 Global Corporate Divestment Study by Ernst & Young highlights that 87% of the 1,000 interviewed executives planned divestments by 2020, with 74% of the respondents indicating that technological change influenced their divestment plans. A notable example of digital-led restructuring is Royal Philips, a Dutch company that divested several business segments (e.g., audio/video, lighting, domestic appliances) that did not fit in with its core business and digital transformation plans and used the proceeds for multiple acquisitions aimed at integrating healthcare solutions utilizing the capabilities of digital technologies. While digital-led restructuring can potentially accelerate a firm's digital transformation journey, it also introduces inherent risks. General Electric serves as a notable example. Despite being an industrial leader for many decades and once the most valuable company in the world, they ultimately failed with their digital restructuring efforts.

Against this backdrop, this project aims to uncover how the interrelationships between digital transformation (e.g., use of AI analytics, cybersecurity defence, cloud solutions, process automation) and corporate restructuring affect the long-term success of firms. By examining this dynamic relationship, this project seeks to provide valuable insights into the strategies and best practices that firms can adopt to navigate the challenges associated with digital transformation and divestment decisions.

The PhD position is embedded in the research programme in Accounting of FEB’s Research Institute. The project will be supervised by Sebastian Firk (University of Groningen, promotor), Simona Rusanescu (University of Groningen, co-promotor), and Vlad-Andrei Porumb (Alliance Manchester Business School, co-promotor).


The ideal candidate is ambitious, highly motivated, and wishes to make a career in research. The candidate has a thorough training in research skills, speaks and writes English fluently, and has obtained excellent results in their Master studies.

The PhD candidate should have a strong background (MSc, research master) in Accounting, Management or Finance. Knowledge of statistical software (e.g., Stata, SAS, Python, SPSS, or R) and programming is an advantage, but is not mandatory.

Conditions of employment

Contract length: 48 months.

We offer you in accordance with the Collective Labour Agreement for Dutch Universities:

- a gross monthly starting salary of € 2,541 which increases yearly to a maximum of € 3,247. Based on the gross salary you will receive an additional 8% holiday allowance each year in May, and an additional 8.3 % end of year bonus in December
- a temporary full-time appointment for a period of four years, under the condition of a positive assessment at the end of the first year. PhD candidates contribute 20% of their time to teaching.

Starting date: Preferably per September 1, 2023

An assessment may be part of the procedure, consisting of psychological tests and an interview.

Job Application

The application package consists of the following separate documents:

1. your cv
2. a motivation letter (1A4 max) and a short study proposal for the PhD project (2 A4 max)
3. a scan of your diploma including transcripts
4. proof of English proficiency
5. other relevant documents.

The documents 1-4 are compulsory and please note that incomplete application packages will not be taken into account.

If you are interested, you may apply until 25 June 11:59pm / 26 June 2023 Dutch local time (European Central Time) by means of the application form (click on "Apply" below on the advertisement on the university website).

The University of Groningen strives to be a university in which students and staff are respected and feel at home, regardless of differences in background, experiences, perspectives, and identities. We believe that working on our core values of inclusion and equality are a joint responsibility and we are constructively working on creating a socially safe environment. Diversity among students and staff members enriches academic debate and contributes to the quality of our teaching and research. We therefore invite applicants from underrepresented groups in particular to apply. For more information, see also our diversity policy webpage:[…]/

Our selection procedure follows the guidelines of the Recruitment code (NVP): and European Commission's European Code of Conduct for recruitment of researchers:

Unsolicited marketing is not appreciated.

Additional information

For additional information, please contact:

For more general information

Simona Rusanescu (for more information on this specific project)

In your application, please always include the job opening ID V23.0401

Digital application form