Organization and Management Theory OMT

Recruiting PhD for research project on (ir)responsible financial innovation (Vacancy number: 7919)

  • 1.  Recruiting PhD for research project on (ir)responsible financial innovation (Vacancy number: 7919)

    Posted 01-11-2022 02:36

    At the University of Amsterdam, Amsterdam Business School, we are seeking to recruit a PhD candidate to research the grand challenges of 21 century concerning

    Responsible Finnovation: How narratives play a role in the process of (ir)responsible innovations in FinTech.

    At this fully-funded four-year position, the PhD candidate can develop her/his future academic career and network as a part of a motivated, committed, friendly, and diverse team of researchers at a prestigious academic institute. The candidate will design and conduct the research on (ir)responsible innovations, FinTech, and digital transformation in the financial industry (theme #8 of the PhD positions on the grand challenges of 21 century).

    This position is located at the Strategy and International Business Section, Amsterdam Business School. The candidate will be a member of the Amsterdam Digital Transformation Lab., at the Amsterdam Centre for Business Innovation.

    The deadline for applications is 1 February 2022.

    More information about the position and how to apply for it is available at <>


    Best wishes,

    Taghi R. Zadeh | Assistant professor | Amsterdam Business School | University of Amsterdam | Plantage Muidergracht 12 - 1018 TV Amsterdam - The Netherlands | Work mobile: +31 6 4828 2463 | E. 


    #phd #phdjob #phdcareer #fintech #finnovation #innovation #responsible_innovation #bubbles #narratives #responsibleinnovation #digital #digitaltransformation #digital_transformation #grandchallenges


    Description of the PhD project

    Responsible Finnovation: How narratives play a role in the process of (ir)responsible innovations in FinTech


    Dr. Taghi R. Zadeh, assistant professor of Strategy and Digital Transformation

    Prof. dr. Henk W. Volberda, professor of Strategy and Innovation

    Research description 

    The quest for digital transformation has caused mainly positive attention for digital innovations and innovators. Business contexts welcome 'disruption' in different industries and incentivize (digital) innovations by creating a legitimacy buffer for innovative companies (Fisher, Kotha, and Lahiri, 2016). This, in turn, might have consequences on how policymakers and regulators deal with promising innovators. While their purpose is positive, their efforts might create or contribute to an environment around innovation and innovators that give a chance to abuse and less optimal outcomes. Examples such as Enron, once known as a highly innovative company, Wirecard, as a successful FinTech company, and Wonga, as a disrupter payday lender in the financial industry, call for more long-term attention to digital innovations. This project will examine how the internal and external context of digital innovation projects in the financial industry may facilitate (ir)responsible innovation processes (e.g., technology and organization) and outcomes (e.g., products, services, and business models). The definition of responsibility has two main elements: responsibility to do no harm and responsibility to do good (we refer to Voegtlin et al. (2021) for an extended discussion about the definition). Examples of irresponsible innovations are:

    • Lack of inclusion in the process of innovation
    • Ignoring minorities' requirements in innovations (e.g., overlooking older generations' requirements in the design of digital products and services)
    • Gender gap within innovation organizations
    • Breaching the privacy of the users and manipulating their behaviour
    • Unfair treatment of the communities, partners, suppliers, complementors, and/or users
    • Excessive short-termism concerning climate and other shared resources

    Using qualitative and quantitative methods, in this project, we study what contributes to such environments and what motivates players to either abuse the system or create a chance for misconduct in FinTech. We apply socio-cognitive theories that explain narratives, attention, and legitimacy to understand our phenomena of interest.

     In our research, narratives are defined as 'simple stories and easily expressed explanations' of innovations that people tend to use in their conversations or are brought up in social media because of their effect on the emotions or concerns of the audience. They are not well-researched stories. They maintain a core contagious element that can mutate over different variants with different economic effects (Shiller, 2017). Literature at the intersection of narratives and innovation highlights the importance of narratives in understanding innovations (Garud, Gehman, and Giuliani, 2014). In other words, we know that articulations of needs, desires, ideas, and experiences create possibilities for innovation (Nambisan and Zahra, 2016). Innovation and (corporate) entrepreneurship literature have mainly focused on entrepreneurs and corporate innovators' agency in shaping their key stakeholders' opinions through storytelling and language about how their innovations will survive and grow. In this research, however, we investigate narratives within organizations and in their environment and how they play a role in the process of (ir)responsible innovations in the financial sector.  Examples of potential research questions that a PhD candidate can address in this research are:  

    • What are the characteristics of narratives that influence innovations? Which characteristics can create a bias to promote (ignore) (ir)responsible aspects of the innovations?
    • How do narratives create 'bubbles' and how do these bubbles can be conducive to (ir)responsible finnovations?
    • Under what conditions do narratives mutate within different stakeholder groups inside and outside organizations, and how do some of the mutations about digital innovations go viral? 
    • How do different conflicting and resonating narratives form the environment for (ir)responsible innovation?
    • How do narratives facilitate resource acquisitions and the go-to-market of the innovations (despite unfavorable aspects)? How do innovators and entrepreneurs take advantage of the narratives in their business?

    Employing a mixed-method research strategy in this PhD project, we will select and examine cases of FinTech. Using computer-aided text analysis techniques, our quantitative inquiry will develop time series to explore major narratives about digital financial innovations in popular social media. We will also examine the narratives in the organizations of selected FinTech businesses. We will select cases that have innovation in the product, process, or purpose of their business (Stilgoe et al., 2013). In doing so, we will consider the effect of the contextual and organizational narratives about different technologies, e.g., mobile, Blockchain, and AI.

    This research will strive to contribute to the strategic innovation and entrepreneurship fields. While mainstream research provides more general knowledge about digital innovation, this study will mainly focus on the social underpinnings of responsible digital innovation. Our findings will highlight the social mechanisms because of which an innovation-seeking society might neglect and accept unfavorable outcomes of FinTech. Policymakers and (corporate) entrepreneurs in the financial industry are the primary audience of our research findings. 

    Expected output

    In the first year, the PhD candidate will explore literature. That is for understanding the main theories and schools of thought that explain the abovementioned concepts. Accordingly, the result would be a written proposal that contains concrete research questions, potential propositions and hypotheses, and an overarching model that accommodates the research ideas to work on in the next three years.  In the second year and the third year, the candidate will focus on data collection, data analysis, and discussing preliminary findings of the research. Based on the proposed research questions, the candidate can work on pre-existing data and collect original data, for example, conducting interviews, running surveys questionnaires, and/or scraping data available on the Internet. The candidate is expected to prepare the first drafts of research papers to submit to conferences and journals from the second year.  In the fourth year, research will continue, and the candidate will write and submit her/his PhD dissertation.

    Scientific relevance

    The candidate is expected to submit to high-level refereed journals such as Academy of Management Journal, Management Science, Organization Science, Journal of Management Studies, Journal of Management, Organisation Studies, and Strategic Entrepreneurship Journal.  The supervisory team has experience publishing in these journals in conjunction with PhDs. High-quality PhD dissertations are subject to dissertation awards or being awarded cum laude, or papers stemming from theses being selected for or receiving best paper awards at international conferences.

    Societal relevance

    Widely adopted (ir)responsible financial innovations have had long-lasting impact worldwide in the past century. The output of this PhD project is expected to clarify how narratives create a fertile ground for (ir)responsible innovations in the digital transformation of the financial industry. The results of this project will facilitate an informed attention to the nature and virality of narratives about digital innovations in general and, more specifically, for instance about the FinTech, at macro, meso, and micro levels. In the light of this project's findings, policymakers, corporate managers and innovators, and civil society will be able to better understand and cope with the narratives in favor of responsible innovations in the financial industry and perhaps even beyond.  

     Required profile

    Candidates who have an MPhil-degree in Research in Management or MSc-degrees in Business Administration, Business Economics, Sociology, or related disciplines, with a keen research orientation and quantitative and qualitative research skills as is revealed, e.g., in the quality and depth of their Master Thesis. Moreover, candidates that enjoy scholarly teamwork and appreciate publishing in top journals are invited to apply.


    Reference and related literature

    Bartel, C. A., & Garud, R. (2009). The role of narratives in sustaining organizational innovation. Organization Science, 20(1), 107-117.

    Fischer, E., & Reuber, A. R. (2011). Social interaction via new social media:(How) can interactions on Twitter affect effectual thinking and behavior? Journal of business venturing, 26(1), 1-18.

    Fisher, G.,Kotha, S., and Lahiri, A., 2016: Changing with the Times: An Integrated View of Identity, Legitimacy, and New Venture Life Cycles. AMR, 41, 383–409

    Garud, R., Gehman, J., & Giuliani, A. P. (2014). Contextualizing entrepreneurial innovation: A narrative perspective. Research Policy, 43(7), 1177-1188.

    Golant, B. D., & Sillince, J. A. A. 2007. The Constitution of Organizational Legitimacy: A Narrative Perspective. Organization Studies, 28(8): 1149–1167.

    Nambisan, S., & Zahra, S. A. (2016). The role of demand-side narratives in opportunity formation and enactment. Journal of Business Venturing Insights, 5, 70-75.

    Pentland, B. T. 1999. Building Process Theory with Narrative: from Description to Explanation. Academy of Management Review, 24(4): 711–724.

    Shiller, R. J. 2017. Narrative Economics. American Economic Review, 107(2): 967–1004.

    Stilgoe, J., Owen, R., & Macnaghten, P. 2013. Developing a framework for responsible innovation. Research Policy, 42(9): 1568–1580.

    Voegtlin, C., Georg Scherer, A., Stahl, G. K., & Hawn, O. (2021). Grand societal challenges and responsible innovation. Journal of Management Studies.

    Taghi R. Zadeh
    Amsterdam Business School, U. of Amsterdam