PhD in Entrepreneurship: "Studying the Social Evaluation of Startups"

PhD in Entrepreneurship: "Studying the Social Evaluation of Startups"

Published Deadline Location
1 Mar 27 Mar Amsterdam

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Job description

Join the Amsterdam Business School at the University of Amsterdam (UvA) to shape the future of entrepreneurship research. We are seeking to nurture an ambitious and enthusiastic PhD candidate that will join our Entrepreneurship and Innovation section on September 1st, 2023.

Project description

"There's an essential, intangible something in start-ups-an energy, a soul. Company founders sense its presence. So do early employees and customers. It inspires people to contribute their talent, money, and enthusiasm and fosters a sense of deep connection and mutual purpose."

(Gulati, R. 2019. The Soul of a Start-Up. Harvard Business Review)

Startups must obtain resources from a variety of stakeholders. This project is built around the idea that these stakeholders, including customers, employees, investors, and society at large, associate a unique and distinguishable character with organizations operating under the label "startup" (with variations including "tech startup", "AI startup", "scaleup", "unicorn", etc.). This is important because organizations, just like individuals, may either enjoy or suffer the consequences of being associated with certain labels and stereotypes. Regardless of other relevant considerations, simply being called a "startup" can therefore be linked with both positive and negative social evaluations. For example, cultural messages about startups associate these organizations with innovation, visionary leaders, and the underdog drive to disrupt industries. At the same time, however, startups may also and receive harsher judgments due to uncertainty about their underlying quality and potential or doubts about their legitimacy and credibility. This project aims to unpack the conditions under which the meaning associated with startup-related labels emerges and how such labels might independently shape evaluations and resource provision by different stakeholders. Answering such questions is crucial not only because it will contribute to theories of social evaluations in entrepreneurship and management, but also because the current hype around startups demands a better understanding of the power encapsulated in such labels, acknowledging their increasing strategic use (e.g., for competitive differentiation or persuasive stakeholder communication) and misuse (e.g., for stakeholder deception and other ethical lapses).

Key questions include:
  • What are the set of meanings and expectations that different stakeholder groups associate with the startup label?
  • how does the startup label shape interactions between entrepreneurs and different stakeholder groups, including resource acquisition from stakeholders?
  • what are the implications of combining or replacing the startup label with other relevant labels (e.g., AI startup, unicorn, scaleup, etc.)?
Example sub-projects include:
  1. An exploration of the set of meanings and expectations implied by the startup label as well as the likelihood that this label is associated with different combinations of observed organizational attributes (e.g., location, size, age, demographic composition, growth stage, funding stage, industry sector, business model, etc.);
  2. looking into whether and how the startup label is used strategically by entrepreneurs when interacting with different stakeholder groups (e.g., job seekers vs. investors vs. customers vs. the wider public) or under different conditions (e.g., different countries and ecosystems or under varying economic climates), including the potential "dark side" of the startup label (e.g., when used for stakeholder deception or when it deters some people from engaging with the company);
  3. testing how the startup label interacts with other prominent labels (tech startups vs. AI startup vs. medical device startups) and the extent to which such combinatorial labels lead to different outcomes;
  4. assessing the reasons and implications of discarding the startup label (e.g., when transitioning from startup to scaleup)?
During your PhD, you will be trained to conduct primarily quantitative empirical research aimed at advancing entrepreneurship research in top-tier academic journals. You will also be an active member of a research lab focused on the study of startups. As a member of this lab within the Entrepreneurship and Innovation section, you will benefit from, and contribute to a broader research agenda, networks, initiatives, resources, and input from a larger group of experienced researchers.

Your tasks
  • Become a member of a collaborative team;
  • co-planning and conducting research (including the design of the studies, and the collection and analysis of empirical data);
  • write up findings for publication in prestigious entrepreneurship and management journals;
  • present research findings at leading international conferences;
  • attend classes and seminars (including those offered at other universities) to further develop thinking and research skills;
  • participate in and contribute to research activities at the section and lab (e.g., research seminars and research meetings);
  • assist in relevant teaching and knowledge dissemination activities.
Expected outcome
  • At least 3 manuscripts ready for submission to or already published in top academic journals (adequate collegial support and mentorship will be provided);
  • placement at a research university in a tenure track position;
  • continued collaboration with the lab and its members.


University of Amsterdam (UvA)


  • Master's degree in business administration/management, economics, psychology, sociology, or a related discipline (expected to finish by September 2023);
  • preference will be given to candidates with research masters;
  • strong demonstrated interest in pursuing an academic career;
  • openness for interdisciplinary approaches;
  • background in conducting empirical research, specifically conducting experiments, content analysis of textual data or statistical analysis of archival datasets. We will provide training but some background in at least one is a must;
  • excellent communication, presentation and writing skills. An excellent command of English, ideally with experience writing for a scientific audience;
  • inquisitive nature, next to a drive to increase your knowledge and a passion for research;
  • people skills to work in a team, openness to collaborate with others and to contribute to the functioning of our lab.

Conditions of employment

The compensation package is competitive at the European level and includes several secondary benefits. Favorable tax agreements may apply to non-Dutch applicants. To know more about working at the University of Amsterdam, please check this link and

The employment contract will be for four years with an initial period of 18 months, with an intermediate evaluation after 18 months and a possibility to extend it for 30 months (in total four years). End-result should be a PhD thesis. An educational plan will be drafted that includes attendance of courses and (international) conferences.

The gross monthly salary will range from €2.541 in the first year to €3.247 (based on 38 hours per week) in the last year (scale P). The Collective Labour Agreement (CAO) for Dutch Universities is applicable.

Additionally, the University of Amsterdam offers excellent benefits and various schemes and regulations to promote a good work/life balance, such as:
  • A maximum of 29 days of annual leave based on full-time employment;
  • possibility to save an additional 12 days of leave on an annual basis;
  • 8% holiday allowance and 8.3% end-of-year bonus;
  • solid pension scheme (ABP);
  • contribution to commuting expenses, an internet and homework allowance.
What else do we offer
  • A function in which your own initiative and input are strongly valued;
  • an enthusiastic and warm team that is open to new colleagues;
  • a collegial and supportive mentorship atmosphere;
  • collaboration opportunities in an active and vibrant research lab;
  • an inspiring academic and international work environment in the center of Amsterdam, one of the most vibrant entrepreneurial ecosystems in Europe.


The PhD position is with Prof. dr. Martin Obschonka, Dr. Yuval Engel, Dr. Kevin Curran and Dr. Lien De Cuyper with potential collaboration with others within the Entrepreneurship and Innovation section at the Amsterdam Business School of the University of Amsterdam. The Entrepreneurship and Innovation section has over 15 employees who do research and teach mainly in Entrepreneurship and Innovation Management with an interest in the sociological and psychological underpinnings of these phenomena. We also have a keen interest in the societal impacts of entrepreneurship and innovation. The members of the section have published their research in top-tier academic journals, such as Academy of Management Journal, Management Science, Journal of Applied Psychology, Organization Science, Strategic Management Journal, Journal of Management, Journal of Management Studies, Organization Studies, Research Policy, and the Journal of Business Venturing. Members are also involved in teaching in undergraduate- and master-level programs and uphold strong relationships with industry, business, and other stakeholders in the entrepreneurial ecosystem.


Faculty of Economics and Business

Education and research at UvA Economics and Business (EB) cover a wide range of fields that includes economics, data science, business administration, business analytics, accountancy, control, econometrics, finance, and entrepreneurship. This is organized in 2 Schools: the Amsterdam Business School (ABS) and the Amsterdam School of Economics (ASE). Over 7,000 students are enrolled in our UvA Economics and Business programs, and around 500 employees provide education and support. You will primarily work in the Amsterdam Business School that acquired the triple-crown accreditation (AACSB, AMBA, EQUIS), which is awarded to only 1% of business schools worldwide.

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  • PhD
  • Economics
  • max. 38 hours per week
  • University graduate
  • 11281


University of Amsterdam (UvA)

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Roetersstraat 11, 1018WB, Amsterdam

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