Ph.D. Program

Strategic Management and Decision-Making Ph.D.

The Strategic Management and Decision-Making Ph.D. Program seeks to train students to engage in research that addresses fundamental problems relating to business strategy formulation and implementation by firms and decision-making by managers. The Policy group at the UCLA Anderson School of Management administers the Strategic Management and Decision-Making PhD program. The program has two tracks: strategic management and decision-making. A strong analytical orientation, centered largely on economics, underlies both tracks. Students in both tracks take common courses in economics and strategic management.

Strategic Management Track: The strategic management track trains students to analyze a firm's response to its environment and its competitors, with a focus on innovation. It combines strong theory development with rigorous empirical methods to develop cutting-edge research on important questions in business strategy. Candidates for the Ph.D. complete a series of core classes in Strategic Management that introduce students to the core fields and frontier research in a number of different fields, including competitive strategy, innovation, intellectual property, non-market strategy, global strategy, organization theory, entrepreneurship, and market institutions. Students often choose to integrate strategic management with other disciplines, such as finance, entrepreneurship, technology management, political science, psychology, or sociology.

Decision-Making Track: This track focuses on mathematical modeling of strategic decision-making by firms and individuals. The formal models developed by doctoral students in this track answer questions on the frontiers of research. Students receive training in economics, decision analysis, behavioral decision-making, and game theory as the base of their training. Students choose to further specialize with various elective courses in finance, operations, economics, or statistics.

Our program is differentiated from other top Ph.D. programs in two ways. First, the faculty expertise spans a broad theoretical base - encompassing economics, psychology, sociology, political science, law, statistics - with inclination toward strong training in methods. We believe that this combination is required to produce well-trained students who will be able to grow intellectually over the course of their careers and, more immediately, obtain an academic appointment at a top business school. Second, faculty research interests span the full level of decision-making in the organization-from individuals to firms to broader market and non-market institutions. This allows students to select a level of analysis for their dissertation that conforms to their interests and strengths while also allowing them to conduct research on the cutting-edge of interesting questions in strategy, innovation, and decision-making.

Students entering the program should anticipate enrolling in 18 to 24 classes for credit in their first two to three years. These include:

  • Microeconomics: In their first year, all students in the program enroll in the graduate microeconomics sequence (Econ 201A, 201B, and 201C) and are required to obtain a masters level pass on the microeconomics comprehensive exam offered in the Economics Department. This exam must be completed before the end of the student's second year.

  • Econometrics: In their first year, all students in the Strategy and Policy PhD program enroll in the graduate econometrics sequence (Econ 203A, 203B, and 203C). Even for those students who do not engage in empirical research, the breadth of understanding of the field is greatly enhanced by knowledge of econometric and statistical technique

  • Core Classes: In their first two years, all students in the Strategic Management and Decision Making Ph.D. program are required to enroll in the following core classes:

    Mgt 298A Strategic Management I: Economics and Strategy
    Mgt 298A Strategic Management II: Organizations, Management, and the Business Environment

    Students in the strategic management track also take:

    Mgt 292A: Research and Development Policy
    Mgt 292B: Growth, Science and Technology
    Econ 271A & B: Industrial Organization, Price Policies, and Regulation

    Students in the decision-making track take:

    Mgt 203A: Economics of Decision
    Mgt 210B: Applied Stochastic Processes
    Econ 211A & B: Economics of Uncertainty, Information, and Games
    Math 131AH: Real Analysis
  • Electives: The area usually offers one or two advanced doctoral seminars each year. Until advancement to candidacy, students will enroll in all seminar courses offered by faculty. Doctoral students in either track may enroll in courses in the Anderson School or elsewhere on campus to develop the substantive background needed to complete a dissertation in their area of interest. These include, but are not limited to finance, entrepreneurship, innovation and technology, game theory, stochastic processes and its applications, statistics, organizational behavior, economic sociology, psychology, behavioral decision-making, marketing, operations, law, political science.

  • Research and Doctoral Student Seminars: Every quarter, the group holds faculty research seminars where faculty from around the world present the latest research in topics related to strategic management and decision-making. We also hold doctoral student seminars where students present their own original research to receive feedback from their fellow students and faculty. All students are required to attend and enroll in these courses during their entire period of study at UCLA.

In addition to the microeconomics and econometrics examinations mentioned above, students will sit for a field examination administered by the Policy area faculty. Regardless of their initial preparation for the Ph.D. program, students must sit for and pass the field examination by the end of the third year in the program. It is expected that most students will pass these exams one year before the respective deadlines.

The third year of the program involves independent study and research supervised by a faculty adviser, culminating in a research paper that is due by the end of the spring quarter. This paper is reviewed by at least two members of the Anderson faculty chosen by the Director of the Doctoral Program. The final stages of the program are focused on crafting and defending an independent research proposal before a faculty committee nominated by the student. This proposal forms the basis for the student's dissertation. We expect most students to complete the program within a timeframe of four or five years.

Each year we expect to enroll a handful of outstanding students with high potential to become professors at top business schools and other academic departments. Our 2008, graduates accepted assistant professor positions in the business schools at Duke, NYU, and University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. Prior to the 2007-08 academic year, our recent students have placed at universities such as Harvard, Wharton, Purdue, Georgia Tech, London Business School, IESE, and Bocconi.