PhD Studentship Opportunity: Using ‘Big Data’ to Model Entrepreneurship in the Manchester City Region

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Deadline: 4 June 2015


Using ‘stylised’ big data, this study will develop pioneering evidence about entrepreneurship in the Manchester City Region and significantly inform the development of economic policy in the region as it takes up new, devolved powers of governance.


This project will adopt a ‘big data’ approach to model various aspects of entrepreneurship in the Manchester City Region. Specific objectives include:

  • engaging with owners of massive data sources to identify what data is available and what might be modelled. This data-driven approach responds to calls for the development of ‘stylised data’ that leads thinking, rather than tests existing theory.
  • analysing the Office for National Statistic’s Business Structure Database 1997-2014: this new ‘census’ of UK businesses provides area level variables and will enable complex analysis of business dynamics (e.g. birth and death rates, sector trends, employment growth and churn) by area and over time. Analysis will include how different sections of the Manchester City Region economy have responded to the recession.
  • analysing the HMRC Tax Credit database: this provides data on the tax credit claims made by ‘micro-enterprise households’. Analysis will explore the role played by Tax Credits in supporting entrepreneurship in the Manchester City Region and provide guidance on how policy makers could manage the transition to Universal Credits.
  • Comparison with other city regions or areas peripheral to the Manchester City Region where business growth is more prevalent (e.g. Cheshire and Warrington) to explore the causes of particular forms of business dynamic within localities.

Dr Julia Rouse has existing experience of supporting such analysis under an ESRC-funded project that employed two different forms of time series analysis that may be applied. The supervisory team will also draw in experts in Big Data and, in particular, longitudinal modelling.


The successful applicant will join a strong research group working in the area of entrepreneurship, including both academics and PhD students which offers supervisory and peer support. The PhD will be supervised by Dr Julia Rouse who has a wealth of research experience and is widely published in entrepreneurship.

The successful applicant will have either a Masters’ degree or a BA/BSc (Hons) 2.1 in a relevant discipline. Some familiarity with the entrepreneurship field is also desirable. Strong quantitative analysis skills are essential and experience of both SPSS and STATA would be an advantage, as would having worked with large datasets. The ability to demonstrate strong verbal and written communication skills is essential, as is the ability to work independently and evidence well-developed problem solving skills.


Fully funded PhD studentships at MMU are only available to home and EU students.

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