Understanding interfirm relationships in the era of digital transformation

Project summary

Currently, the strategic environment of businesses is changing faster than ever. Among all the changes experienced by businesses, the emerging digital transformation is creating the biggest contextual development globally. As a consequence, contemporary companies need to review their traditional business models for inter-firm collaboration and relationship coordination to meet the rapidly changing expectations, requirements and characteristics of existing or potential strategic partners.

There are many different types of interfirm relationships that companies can engage with, such as strategic alliances, joint-ventures, supply chain partnership, consortiums, R&D partnerships etc.

All these relationships will face dramatic new challenges from the trend of digital transformation, to name but a few, blockchain, big-data analytics, AI, Internet-of-Things, additive manufacturing, etc. A big gap in research is to be filled with important new advances in theory, methodology and practice.

Therefore, candidates are encouraged to focus on one or the other topic areas to understand the new challenges to different stages of the lifecycle of interfirm relationships—from formation, maintenance to dismissal—to optimized relationships, to understand effective mechanisms, influential factors, success factors, and to propose new solutions and alternative models of interfirm relationship management in the future.

Entry requirements

International students may also need to meet our English language requirements. Find out more about our entry requirements for international students.

Project specific requirements must align with the University’s standard requirements

How to apply

Please contact Professor Qile He (Q.He@derby.ac.uk) in the first instance.

The University has four starting points each year for MPhil/PhD programmes (September, January, March and June). Applications should be made at least three months before you would want to start your programme. Please note that if you require a visa additional time will be required.


Self-funded by student. There is a range of options that may be available to you to help you fund your PhD.


Professor of Strategy and Performance Management

Professor Qile He is a Professor of Strategy and Performance Management within the College of Business, Law and Social Science at the University of Derby.