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PhD researcher - Belgium  

KU Leuven (company)


Posted on : 18 May 2017

Project Description

  • The project is part of a larger-scale long-term research program on strategic HR differentiation. 
  • Many organizations nowadays struggle with the balance between HR standardization practices (i.e. employees in similar functions are allocated the same resources) and HR differentiation practices (i.e. resources are differentially allocated between employees in similar functions based on their performance, potential, human capital or needs). Theoretical arguments in the strategic HRM literature put forward that organizations should opt for HR differentiation,as it is seen as a way of achieving competitive advantage and high returns on investment. 
  • Yet, empirical evidence for these arguments is lacking. Moreover, little attention is devoted to the potential drawbacks of HR differentiation. 
  • HR differentiation creates outcome differences between employees (e.g. regarding compensation, developmental and promotion opportunities, autonomy, flexibility). 
  • Since employees are inclined to compare their own outcomes with the ones of co-workers, some employees might feel disadvantaged.
  • This can subsequently lead to negative attitudes and reactions. 
  • Yet, so far a clear understanding and test of the social psychological mechanisms through which HR differentiation benefits performance is lacking. 
  • This project’s overall aim is to address this gap and study whether, when and why differentiation (relative to standardization) would benefit the organization. 
  • Within the borders of this broader research program, the PhD researcher will have the freedom to carve out his/her personal project on HR differentiation. 

The job will consist of the following activities: 
  • Design and analysis of a series of quantitative studies (i.e. field survey, field experiment); 
  • Writing of scientific articles with the aim of including them in your PhD dissertation;
  • Active participation in (international) seminars and conferences;
  • Completion of the PhD program of the Faculty of Economics and Business;
  • Collaboration with other members of the strategic HR differentiation project; 
  • Provision of educational support and/or engagement in teaching activities (e.g., supervision of master's theses, supervising and grading exams).

  • You hold a master's degree in a Humanities and Social Sciences domain (e.g. Management, Psychology, Applied Economics, Business Engineering, Sociology
  • You have received at least two 'honours' (i.e., cum laude, distinction) mentions over the course of your higher education;
  • You have demonstrable experience with, or a strong interest in designing and executing quantitative studies (primarily field studies);
  • You have strong interest and affinity with topics related to HRM and/or Organizational Behavior (OB);
  • You are a good writer, and you are not afraid of public speaking (e.g., delivering a conference presentation, teaching a class);
  • Your written and spoken English is excellent;
  • You are an intellectually curious, analytical ‘idea person’, with a knack for academic research and a proactive, self-directed approach to work.

We offer employment as a full-time doctoral researcher in a stimulating environment for a period of 4 years (pending positive evaluations after 12 and 24 months).