PhD Position on the Leadership Development Industries in China

Copenhagen, Hovedstaden (DK)
31 Jul 2019
End of advertisement period
01 Sep 2019
Contract Type
Fixed Term
Full Time

PhD Position on the Leadership Development Industries in China

The Department of Management, Society, and Communication (MSC) at Copenhagen Business School invites applications for a funded three-year PhD research project in the field of leadership and leadership development.

The Sino-Danish Center in Beijing will contribute 75% of the funding for this PhD position as part of a broader MSC research project on the organizational, professional, cultural, and commercial dynamics of leadership development and the leadership industries in China. MSC faculty leading this project will supervise the PhD candidate in collaboration with a co-supervisor from the University of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, with further support from project partners in the Department of Organization and Human Resources at Renmin Business School, the Renmin University of China.

In order to receive SDC funding, the candidate must spend at least twelve months of the thirty-six month PhD project period in Beijing, and contribute to SDC educational activities in Beijing. The candidate will work closely with CBS colleagues and Chinese partners in the “Leadership Industries” project to conduct primary research in China, to organize relevant workshops and other activities in Beijing, and to disseminate and to publish project findings.

We encourage applications with the potential to make significant empirical and/or theoretical contributions to the “Leadership Industries in China” research project, which will explore the significance of the rise and spread of the leadership industries in China both in their own right and as a microcosm of broader, global developments. The project defines the leadership industries as consisting of all those individuals and organizations that generate revenue or professional advantage by responding to and further promoting demand for leadership products and services. These include consulting; in-house training and development; executive search; coaching; leadership assessment; inspirational speaking; seminar, event and conference organizing; media and publishing; and leadership education and research in universities, business schools, and other academic institutes.

The project builds on and seeks to extend a “production of leadership” perspective. This theoretical perspective draws on the sociology of the production of culture explore how factors including financial considerations, organizational pressures, professional norms, provider practices, and consumer demand contribute to the shape and content of leadership products and services, and how the market for these products and services in turn influences the perception and practice of leadership itself.

Relevant research topics and issues could include, for example:

  1. The introduction, spread, reception, and adaptation of Western style leadership development, consulting, coaching practices, and the coaching industry in the Chinese context.
  2. The competitive dynamics of the market for leadership development consulting in China, and the structural and strategic dynamics that characterize the key players in the leadership industries in China, with a focus on whether or not the rapid growth of the Chinese economy can catalyze the innovation of new kinds of leadership development practices.
  3. The legitimization and professionalization of leadership industry players and practices in China, in the context of the institutional, legal, political, and cultural constraints and challenges facing the leadership industries in the Chinese context .
  4. The analysis of specific leadership development practices of note in China, for example, the practices of major Chinese companies such as Alibaba, TenCent, Huawei, or Xiaomi, and the manner in which these practices shape and influence the broader market for leadership development products and services.
  5. Alternative conceptualizations and practices of leadership development taking place in China, for example via informal organizational settings and networks, non-profit institutions and foundations, grass-roots social change efforts, and other civil society associations, and the manner in which such practices hold the potential to transform approaches to leadership in more conventional contexts.

We invite interested applicants from a variety of disciplinary backgrounds, including but not limited to leadership and organization studies, business studies, communication studies, culture studies, sociology or anthropology.

The Department of Management, Society, and Communication carries out research on the relationship between business and society from a number of different disciplinary perspectives in a variety of contexts. Several department researchers connected to the department’s research cluster on Communication, Organization and Governance (COG) devote most or all of their research to leadership issues. As a business school department, we are interested both in how the project can contribute to academic theory and research on leadership and leadership development, as well as in how the project can inform the practices of commercial organizations, governmental and non-governmental organizations, and civil society organizations. For more information on the department, please consult:  

More complete information on the SDC PhD program is available here:
Information about the PhD program at CBS is available here:

For further information please contact: Associate Professor Eric Guthey,, or Associate Professor Esben Karmark,

For more information about the requirements and how to apply, please go to

Closing date: 1 September 2019