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ERiM PhD Vacancy in Cooperatives; Organizations’ Change and Persistence – Netherlands 2022

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PhD in Cooperatives; Organizations’ Change and Persistence is available at the Economics of Organization, Erasmus Research Institute of Management (ERiM) – Netherlands 2022

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General Info

Position: PhD
No. of Positions: 1
Research Field: ,
Deadline to Apply:
Joining Date: ASAP
Contract Period: -
Salary: According to Standard Norms

Economics of Organization
Erasmus Research Institute of Management (ERiM)
Rotterdam, The Netherlands

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Qualification Details

The candidate should be first and foremost curious and inquisitive about the (social) world around her/him. Curiosity and the drive to answer questions are the basic requirements of a good researcher. In terms of prior training, it is preferred that the candidate has a master’s degree and background in social/behavioral sciences and/or a management field. It is important to have a very good command of English (comprehension, speaking, reading, and writing) as it is the language of scientific inquiry. Analytical skills, intrinsic motivation, an open-mind, and strong interest in the study of organizations from a macro perspective, are expected of candidates for this position. For any questions concerning this PhD opportunity please contact and

Please note that we will give priority to full applications (including all test scores - GMAT/GRE and IELTS/TOEFL).

Candidates applying for this position are required to include a sample of academic written work (e.g. thesis) in their application.

Responsibilities/Job Description

Most interactions in a society occur inside organizations rather than in markets. Organizations are ubiquitous and heterogenous in their form, governance, and processes, all of which are crucial for their success. Thus, one broad research direction is the study of internal structure of organization with a focus on Cooperatives. Furthermore, organizations play extremely important role in varied domains, and therefore the study of organizations is central to our understanding of societies and economies. How societies and markets change and persist is closely related to understanding organizations’ change and persistence, which is another broad research direction.

We are looking for a PhD candidate to be part of this broad research program. The specific focus of the PhD projects will be determined in collaboration between the PhD candidate and the supervising faculty with strong encouragement for the student’s development of her/his particular interests. Generally, the expectation is that the focus would take a macro perspective – namely, organization(s) and/or institutions as the main unit of analysis – and be aligned with the supervisors’ core expertise. Two research areas within this broad research program are delineated to reflect the current research focus of the department.

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About the Department

ERIM is the research institute of management at Erasmus University Rotterdam, founded by Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University (RSM) and Erasmus School of Economics (ESE), both of which excel in their research and teaching programmes. The level and international character of their research and teaching programmes has put both schools at the forefront of academic excellence. They offer a diversified portfolio of accredited teaching and research programmes, ranging from pre-experience MSc to postgraduate Masters and executive development, and from fundamental research to applied research and business support, which are renowned throughout the world. RSM is one of the few schools worldwide that holds a triple accreditation from the AMBAs, EQUIS and the AASCB, and is positioned among the top European business schools. The scientific staff of both schools plays a major role in the schools’ interaction with the international business community.

ERIM distinguishes itself by the high-level and international character of its research and has repeatedly been ranked among top 3 research institutes in Europe. ERIM’s key aims are top-quality academic research with impact both on academia and managerial practice, and the advancement of international academic careers and high-level support for both research and doctoral education. For more information about ERIM please visit [link:].

About the Employer: Erasmus Research Institute of Management (ERiM)

Note or Other details


A. Cooperatives

Cooperatives came and come into existence due to dissatisfaction with goods and services provided by capital-owned firms, such as too high prices, too low quality, unfair practices, non-sustainable production, and so on. A cooperative consists of a society of members (either suppliers, consumers, or employees) and an enterprise, where the former owns the latter. Cooperatives and investor-owned firms as organizational forms coexist in many sectors of most modern economies, and the overall share of economic activity accounted for by cooperatives is larger in advanced economies than it is in less-developed economies. And, more striking still, the market share of cooperatives in economic activity has grown throughout the 20th century. There are 3 million cooperatives on earth, providing jobs or work opportunities to 12% of humanity.

These organizations are not publicly listed, provide benefits to members, have democratic procedures for goal setting and decision-making, and have special rules for dealing with capitalization and profit. As an alternative to investor owned firms, cooperatives may be better able to address the (sustainability) problems of our time. This raises the question of who (should) own the enterprise in order to create superior value. Some illustrative (but not exclusive) research streams:

Cooperatives: Two Worlds in One Organization  A cooperative is supposed to serve member interests and to generate value at the cooperative enterprise. It is designed for the former task, and because the organizational structure required for the two tasks is different, it is expected to have an impact on the latter task. The main organizational design challenge is that the society of members as well as the joint enterprise have to be addressed within one organizational form. This requires value creating responses regarding many aspects of its organization, such as efficient collective decision-making procedures, contracting, member commitment and involvement, social capital, board structure, organizational inertia, organizational principles, and member versus organizational identity. These aspects of cooperatives are likely to have an impact on the quality of the goods and services delivered by cooperatives. Even the more basic question regarding the viability and efficiency of this organizational form has to be addressed.

Cooperatives and Cognition – Each member has his own view of the world due to having limited capabilities to gather, absorb, and process information within a limited amount of time. This is already challenging in the society of members, but even more challenging in the relationship between the members and the cooperative enterprise. However, organizations in general, and cooperatives particularly, enable the constraints of bounded rationality to be circumvented, so that more information can be gathered and a greater variety of expertise can be used in its compilation and evaluation than any individual or small group could achieve. It matters therefore how the society of members is structured (the ties between the members, the dispersion of decision-making authority, who communicates what with whom) and member representation. The functioning of cooperatives is not embodied in the parts, but in the organization of the parts.

Cooperative Identity and Sustainability – A person’s identity is the way she is perceived by herself (personal identity) and by others (social identity). Member and organisational identities interact and help cooperatives to guide their activities. Cooperatives may be better than investor-owned firms regarding sustainable activities because they on the one hand internalize externalities due to the relationship between the members and the cooperative enterprise, and on the other hand the society of members being a union of members rather than enterprises separately facing others.

B. Organizations’ change and persistence

Organizational persistence and change co-exist and co-constitute one another and include various accompanying processes. For example, change is often accompanied by contestation as the status-quo is often preferred by some while challenged by others. Alluding to the past, history, legacy, tradition, and the role of time often underlie and enable organizations’ persistence. Concepts such as conformity, creativity, innovation and identity, hint to both persistence and change and are thus central to investigating how and why organizations, organizational forms, organizational populations, and organizational categories persist and change.

Some illustrative (but not exclusive) research streams:

Contestation and contested industries - Contestation often arises when change is introduced and parties disagree on the need for, nature of, and/or implications of such a change. Frequently, different underlying interests, values, norms, etc. provide powerful impetus for the contesting parties. As such contestation, involving organizations and groups of organizations (e.g., industries), constitutes a complex social process which is still poorly understood.

Organizations and ideology - While it may not be obvious that ideology is relevant to organizations, scholars agree that organizations are infused with values and ideology. That is so even though it is not always apparent or visible. A working definition used in (some) organization research portrays ideology as a set of beliefs about how the social world operates, including ideas about what outcomes are desirable and how they can best be achieved. Ideological beliefs are thus powerful as an engine driving organizational change and potent as justifying organizations’ persistence.

Time, temporality, and history in the study of organizations - History and time can be conceived of as resources, being particularly interesting because of their ephemerality, and the inability to store, or possess them. Time is omnipresent in all social domains and activities and gives rise to temporal bracketing. The past affects the present and the future, while also being socially constructed in light of both. Various contexts (e.g., types of organizations, national/cultural settings) and methodological approaches can enrich our understanding of the role time and history play in organizations’ persistence and change. Both after all, allude to time and history, and are anchored in time.

Creativity and the creative sector - Creativity is fundamental to change. Whether applied to technology, science, art, or other domains, without creativity societies and economies’ advancement would likely be impeded. Questions pertaining to the creative processes within and across organizations are central to understanding how novel ideas, innovations, or creative products, transpire. While the particular interest is in the creative sector, it should be clear that the study of creativity is NOT limited to, nor does creativity characterize only the creative (sometimes referred to as cultural) sector.


By its nature, the study of organizations is interdisciplinary which is reflected both in the theoretical domains/disciplines that inform it as well as the required methodologies. Consequently, the research methodology is determined by the research question(s) and theoretical perspective(s) as well as the research context. Thus, a broad range of methodologies can and should be considered/chosen. Quantitative and qualitative methods as well as a big data approaches, or visual analyses represent some options to analyze data obtained from varied sources such archival data, observations, interviews, experiments, web scraping, etc. In other words, the methods selected and mastered would be an integral part of the PhD project rather than dictated by this or that expertise of the supervisor(s). It is expected that a PhD student can master, as needed, varied methodologies, building on the experience and guidance of the supervisor(s), and the resources available within RSM/Erasmus university and beyond.

Expected output

The PhD project is funded for up to five years and should yield at least three (top) journal publications (see: erim journals list). Results/papers will also be presented at international conferences. Furthermore, careful planning should also yield data for work beyond the dissertation papers such that upon completing the PhD, subsequent projects can be relatively quickly embarked on.


The relevant supervisors have a strong international network of collaborators and colleagues that can be called upon to host research visits of PhD students, assist with particular needs (e.g., friendly reviewer), and serve as external committee members. Furthermore, the department and school have regular seminar speakers and research visits by renowned international faculty, providing further opportunities to get acquainted with, and establish international collaborations. Generally speaking a strong ethos of cooperating towards achieving high-quality PhD training exists within the department, between relevant faculty across RSM departments as well as with the aforementioned broad professional network. Examples of institutions PhD students supervised by the relevant faculty recently visited include MIT, Michigan State University and WU. Besides these, recent PhD students supervised by other department members include visiting at Duke University, University of Maryland, Northwestern University, Stanford University, and University of Toronto.

Societal relevance

Given organizations’ pivotal societal and economic role as described above, scientifically sound research, research that contributes to resolving (theoretical) problems and puzzles, and the deep contextual knowledge that is developed during a PhD project, will also have its particular societal relevance. The Rotterdam School of Management supports dissemination of findings to the wider society in various ways (e.g., discovery).

Scientific relevance

The PhD projects will be predicated on sound theoretical and methodological bases and aim to contribute to theory development and advancement per the relevant perspectives taken. It would also be expected to contribute to a greater understanding of a particular context, such as a particular industry, type(s) of organizations, etc. Clearly, the specific scientific contributions the project will make are contingent on how the project is shaped by the PhD student, nonetheless since the general research domain outlined above is central to current OT and Organizational Economics research, similarly the PhD project is expected to significantly inform the relevant theories/concepts.

Literature references & data sources


Arrow, K.J., The Limits of Organization, Norton, New York, 1974.

Cook, M.L., The Role of Management Behavior in Agricultural Cooperatives, Journal of Agricultural Cooperation, 1994, 42-58.

Hansmann, H., The Ownership of Enterprise, Belknap Press, Cambridge, 1996.

Hendrikse, G.W.J., Pooling, Access, and Countervailing Power in Channel Governance, Management Science, 2011, 57(9), 1692-1702.

Liang, Q. and G.W.J. Hendrikse, Pooling and the Yardstick Effect of Cooperatives, Agricultural Systems, 2016, 143, 97-105.

Manouchehrabadi, B., P. Letizia, and G.W.J. Hendrikse, Governance of Collective Entrepreneurship, Journal of Economic Behavior and Organization, 2021.

Nooteboom, B., A Cognitive Theory of the Firm: Learning, Governance and Dynamic Capabilities, Edward Elgar, 2009.

Organizations’ Persistence and Change

Bitektine, A. (2011). Toward a theory of social judgments of organizations: The case of legitimacy, reputation, and status. Academy of Management Review36(1), 151-179.

Cattani, G., & Ferriani, S. (2008). A core/periphery perspective on individual creative performance: Social networks and cinematic achievements in the Hollywood film industry. Organization Science19(6), 824-844.

Desai, V. M. (2011). Mass media and massive failures: Determining organizational efforts to defend field legitimacy following crises. Academy of Management Journal54(2), 263-278.

Eisenman, M., & Simons, T. (2020). A rising tide lifts all boats: The origins of institutionalized aesthetic innovation. In Aesthetics and Style in Strategy. Emerald Publishing Limited.

Greve, H. R., Palmer, D., & Pozner, J. E. (2010). Organizations gone wild: The causes, processes, and consequences of organizational misconduct. The Academy of Management Annals4(1), 53-107.

Hatch, M. J., & Schultz, M. (2017). Toward a theory of using history authentically: Historicizing in the Carlsberg Group. Administrative Science Quarterly62(4), 657-697.

Jones, C., Maoret, M., Massa, F. G., & Svejenova, S. (2012). Rebels with a cause: Formation, contestation, and expansion of the de novo category “modern architecture,” 1870–1975. Organization Science23(6), 1523-1545.

Khaire, M., & Wadhwani, R. D. (2010). Changing landscapes: The construction of meaning and value in a new market category—Modern Indian art. Academy of Management Journal53(6), 1281-1304.

Sagiv, T., Simons, T., & Drori, I. (2020). The Construction of Authenticity in the Creative Process: Lessons from Choreographers of Contemporary Dance. Organization Science31(1), 23-46.

Schultz, M., & Hernes, T. (2013). A temporal perspective on organizational identity. Organization Science24(1), 1-21.

Simons, T., & Ingram, P. (1997). Organization and ideology: Kibbutzim and hired labor, 1951-1965. Administrative Science Quarterly, 784-813.

Simons, T., & Ingram, P. (2003). Enemies of the state: The interdependence of institutional forms and the ecology of the kibbutz, 1910–1997. Administrative Science Quarterly48(4), 592-621.

Simons, T., & Ingram, P. (2004). An ecology of ideology: Theory and evidence from four populations. Industrial and Corporate Change13(1), 33-59.

Simons, T., & Roberts, P. W. (2008). Local and non-local pre-founding experience and new organizational form penetration: The case of the Israeli wine industry. Administrative Science Quarterly53(2), 235-265.

Simons, T., Vermeulen, P. A., & Knoben, J. (2016). There’s no beer without a smoke: Community cohesion and neighboring communities’ effects on organizational resistance to antismoking regulations in the Dutch hospitality industry. Academy of Management Journal59(2), 545-578.

Suddaby, R., & Greenwood, R. (2005). Rhetorical strategies of legitimacy.  Administrative Science Quarterly50(1), 35-67.

Yenkey, C. B. (2018). Fraud and market participation: Social relations as a moderator of organizational misconduct. Administrative Science Quarterly63(1), 43-84.

Zuckerman, E. W. (1999). The categorical imperative: Securities analysts and the illegitimacy discount. American Journal of Sociology104(5), 1398-1438.

Employment conditions

ERIM offers fully-funded and salaried PhD positions, which means that accepted PhD candidates become employees (promovendi) of Erasmus University Rotterdam. Salary and benefits are in accordance with the Collective Labour Agreement for Dutch Universities (CAO).

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Contact details

For questions regarding the PhD application and selection procedure, please check the Admissions or send us an e-mail via

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