PhD position: The Geopolitics of Europe-China Tech-decoupling

PhD position: The Geopolitics of Europe-China Tech-decoupling

Published Deadline Location
12 Mar 9 Apr Amsterdam

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Are you a political scientist with an expertise in International Relations, International Political Economy and/or China studies and are you interested in writing a dissertation on the geopolitical drivers of Europe-China decoupling in technology?

Job description

This PhD position is part of the Vidi project “Globalization Unravelling? The Geopolitical Drivers of Europe-China Tech decoupling” (funded by NWO, the Nederlandse Organisatie voor Wetenschappelijk Onderzoek). In this project, we analyse and explain the geopolitical drivers behind emergent decoupling between Europe and China in the realm of technology. In the project we place contemporary geopolitical competition over technology in a wider historical context by analysing ‘three waves of techno-nationalism’ going back to the Cold War as well as the competition with Japan in the 1980s. Against this background in your dissertation you will analyse how political and geopolitical drivers are shaping policies, practices and contestation around contemporary technological decoupling between Europe and China and explain (variation in) technological decoupling practices and responses in Europe and across different tech domains. You will also contribute to the project’s theory development around techno-nationalism and decoupling in a globalized world. You will collect and analyse data from (policy)documents, reports and media, and you will conduct extensive fieldwork (e.g. elite interviews, participant observation) as well as historical comparative analysis.

You will be part of a team consisting of the PI, a postdoc, and a co-PhD supervisor.

Your responsibilities
  • write a dissertation on geopolitical drivers behind emergent decoupling between Europe and China in the realm of technology
  • contribute to (joint) publications on the findings of the project
  • contribute to organizing workshops and meetings related to the project
  • undertake methods training and course work in the faculty’s Graduate School of Social Sciences
  • disseminate findings of the project at international academic conferences and workshops


Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam (VU)


  • degree in Political Science, International Relations, or a closely related field
  • knowledge of Europe-China relations
  • solid training in qualitative methodology and (at least) basic quantitative methods
  • willingness and ability to spend several weeks abroad for field work
  • proficiency in academic English (written and spoken)

Additional qualifications considered a plus:
  • knowledge of Chinese and / or European and/or US politics and foreign policy
  • competence and/or willingness to work with (social) network methodologies (e.g. SNA, DNA)
  • experience in conducting and analyzing (elite) interviews
  • apprehension of Mandarin (written and or spoken)

Conditions of employment

Fixed-term contract: 1 year.

A challenging position in a highly committed team within a societally-engaged university and a vibrant international city. The possibility to become an active member of the China in Europe Research Network (CHERN). The salary will be in accordance with university regulations for academic personnel and amounts € 2.770 (PhD) per month during the first year and increases to € 3,539 (PhD) per month during the fourth year, based on a full-time employment. The job profile is based on the university job ranking system and is vacant for 1 FTE.

The intended start date is no later than 1st of September 2024. The appointment will initially be for a period of one year. After a satisfactory evaluation of the initial appointment, the contract will be extended for a duration of 4 years.

Additionally, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam offers excellent fringe benefits and various schemes and regulations to promote a good work/life balance, such as:
  • A full-time 38-hour working week comes with a holiday leave entitlement of 232 hours per year. If you choose to work 40 hours, you have 96 extra holiday leave hours on an annual basis. For part-timers, this is calculated pro rata.
  • 8% holiday allowance and 8.3% end-of-year bonus
  • solid pension scheme (ABP)
  • optional model for designing a personalized benefits package
  • contribution to commuting expenses


Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam

Faculty of Social Sciences
At the Faculty of Social Sciences we examine the major social issues facing us today from a variety of critical perspectives. We combine sociology, anthropology, political science, communication science, administration and organisation. Because there aren’t any ready-made solutions to the complex social issues of today. They demand a multidisciplinary approach. Working together with others helps you expand your mind, come to new ways of understanding and devise creative solutions.

Are you interested in joining Social Sciences? That means working with a team of colleagues from different disciplines in an inspiring work and study climate. Enjoy working in a professional organisation with an informal atmosphere, where we give you space for personal development. FSS employs over 350 staff members and enrols around 3,000 students.

Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam
Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam stands for values-driven education and research. We are open-minded experts with the ability to think freely. - a broader mind. Maintaining an entrepreneurial perspective and concentrating on diversity, significance and humanity, we work on sustainable solutions with social impact. By joining forces, across the boundaries of disciplines, we work towards a better world for people and planet. Together we create a safe and respectful working and study climate, and an inspiring environment for education and research. Learn more about our codes of conduct

We are located on one physical campus, in the heart of Amsterdam's Zuidas business district, with excellent location and accessibility. Over 5,500 staff work at the VU and over 30,000 students attend academic education.

Diversity is the driving force of the VU. The VU wants to be accessible and receptive to diversity in disciplines, cultures, ideas, nationalities, beliefs, preferences and worldviews. We believe that trust, respect, interest and differences lead to new insights and innovation, to sharpness and clarity, to excellence and a broader understanding.

We stand for an inclusive community and believe that diversity and internationalisation contribute to the quality of education, research and our services.

Therefore, we are always searching for people whose backgrounds and experience contribute to the diversity of the VU community.


  • PhD
  • Behaviour and society
  • €2770—€3539 per month
  • University graduate
  • 3867


Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam (VU)

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De Boelelaan 1105, 1081HV, Amsterdam

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