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PhD in Business and Territorial Competitiveness, Innovation and Sustainability

The IQS School of Management, the Faculty of Economic and Business Sciences at the University of Deusto (DBS Deusto) and the Faculty of Economic and Business Sciences at Pontificia Comillas University (ICADE) have combined forces to offer a joint doctoral programme in Business and Territorial Competitiveness, Innovation and Sustainability (CETIS).

This programme has been created within the framework of the Aristos Campus Mundus 2015 Campus of International Excellence, whose initiative is the result of the strategic partnership between three socially committed universities (the University of Deusto, Comillas Pontifical University and Ramon Llull University). This alliance is also backed by advanced strategic cooperation agreements with Georgetown University, Boston College and Fordham University.

Key points

Number of spots available

Barcelona: 6 Bilbao: 4 Madrid: 12 San Sebastián: 8


The programme can be done entirely in English.


Business and territorial competitiveness Organizational management and business competitiveness


State-of-the-art management labs.


Meet a PhD student

Access and Admision

In addition to the general requirements that all applicants must meet in order to access doctoral studies, candidates must also meet the specific requirements for this programme and be accepted to conduct their doctoral thesis with a research group within the IQS School of Management.

Specific Requirements

Applicants must have completed an official master’s degree in the area of economics and/or business, preferably with a research profile.

Applicants must have obtained a C1 or equivalent level English language certificate. This level means that an individual can understand a wide range of more demanding, longer texts and recognize implicit meaning in them; can express him/herself fluently and spontaneously without much obvious searching for the right expression; can use language flexibly and effectively for social, academic, and professional purposes; and can produce clear, well structured, detailed text on complex subjects, showing controlled use of organizational patterns, connectors, and cohesive devices.

The following will also be highly valued for applicants:

  • Excellent grades in their undergraduate studies.
  • Excellent grades in their master’s degree studies in the field of economics and/or business.
  • Interest in the doctoral programme’s research lines.
  • Research experience in the field (participation in research projects, publications, etc.) prior to entering the doctoral programme.
  • Continuing education related to the field.
  • Professional or volunteer experience in the field.
  • Study abroad experiences.
  • Defined professional objectives, research goals, and personal maturity.
  • Availability to carry out the activities established in the programme and exchanges at other universities and research centres in particular.
  • A research grant awarded by a national or international body based on an assessment of the applicant’s curriculum vitae.


International Candidates

Foreign candidates must be able to prove that they meet these or equivalent requirements (certified copy of their degree, academic transcripts, and legal requirements necessary for residing in Spain, where appropriate).

Regarding students with special educational needs due to disability, IQS advisory and support services will evaluate the need for possible adaptations to the curriculum, coursework, or alternative studies.

General Conditions For Access To Doctoral Programmes

Degree and transcripts (undergraduate) Grade point average + compatibility with the programme’s field 15% + 10% Academic transcripts
Degree and transcripts (graduate) Grade point average + compatibility with the programme’s field 15% + 20% Academic transcripts
English proficiency Certification of English level and/or English as your native language 5% Documentation proving the certification and/or nationality
Previous research experience Publications and projects  5% CV
Other merits -Continuing education

-Professional or volunteer experience

-Exchanges abroad

10% CV
Other merits -Professional objectives-Expectations about the programme

-Personal attitude and maturity-Expected dedication to the programme

10% Interview and motivational letter
Holding a research grant Award, duration, and amount 10% Grant award documentation

Professors and research staff from IQS, the University of Deusto, and Comillas Pontifical University are the faculty members of the PhD in Business and Territorial Competitiveness, Innovation and Sustainability.

The programme features a coordinator at Deusto Business School (University of Deusto) and two assistant coordinators at the IQS School of Management (Ramon Llull University) and at ICADE (Comillas Pontifical University).

  • The coordinator of the programme at the University of Deusto is Iñaki Peña Legazkue.
  • The assistant coordinator at the IQS School of Management is Ramon Palau Saumell.
  • The assistant coordinator at Comillas Pontifical University is Carmen Valor Martínez.

University of Deusto and Comillas Pontifical University faculty


Research lines of the faculty

All IQS professors engage in research projects on various topics within the research groups at the IQS School of Management. PhD candidates can join these projects to carry out their research.

Research Projects

Educational activities

IQS doctoral programmes include cross-disciplinary and specific research activities within the scope of each programme. These activities are aimed at preparing excellent new researchers and optimally developing their research skills.

The activities are distributed throughout the course load and include courses, sessions, seminars, conferences, publishing articles, and international exchanges.

The activity programming aims to ensure that students have excellent international experiences, preferably through exchanges at foreign universities or research centres, doing international theses, participating in international conferences, and inviting visiting professors to campus.

  • Ethics in research seminar
  • Thematic courses on research skills
  • Research seminars
  • Presentations at conferences
  • Exchanges at other research centres

In addition to the activities available at IQS, the interuniversity programme offers other educational activities with the Universidad de Deusto and Universidad de Comillas. Students in the programme can engage in educational activities at any of the participating universities.

Additional coursework

PhD candidates who have not completed a research master’s degree or do not hold a research proficiency certification or an Advanced Studies Diploma must take additional coursework in order to acquire the basic methodological competencies established in a master’s degree with a profile similar to the doctoral programme.

Research methods I: epistemology of science, qualitative research methods, and drafting scientific texts (6 ECTS).

Research methods II: compiling data, information sources, and quantitative research methods (6 ECTS).

International Endorsement

1. The reverse side of a PhD diploma may include the “International Doctorate” endorsement provided that the following conditions are met:

  • During the educational period necessary to earn the doctoral degree, the doctoral student has completed an international exchange of at least three months outside Spain at a prestigious institution of higher education or research centre studying or carrying out research work. The exchange cannot be in the doctoral student’s country of habitual residence. The exchanges and activities will be approved by the supervisor of the PhD programme and authorized by the academic committee and will be included in the doctoral activity file.
  • Part of the doctoral thesis, at least the summary and the conclusions, must be drafted and presented in one of the usual languages for scientific communication in the programme’s field of knowledge, other than any of the official languages in Spain, except in cases where the exchange, reports, and experts come from a Spanish-speaking country.
  • A minimum of two experts belonging to an institution of higher education or non-Spanish research institute must provide a written report on the thesis.
  • At least one expert PhD belonging to a foreign institution of higher education or research centre other than the person supervising the exchange referred to in paragraph (a) must form part of the thesis defence jury.

2. The application for the “International Doctorate” endorsement must be presented when the student submits their thesis, along with the documentation proving that the aforementioned requirements have been met. The programme’s Academic Committee will review the suitability of the experts who are reporting on the thesis with a justified written report.

The thesis defence must be carried out at the university in which the doctoral student was enrolled. Regarding joint doctoral programmes, the thesis defence can be conducted at any of the participating universities or in accordance with the terms indicated in the corresponding partnership agreement.

Doctoral Thesis

The doctoral thesis consists of an original research project conducted by the doctoral student in a field of knowledge specific to the doctoral programme in which he/she is enrolled, and which enables him/her to work autonomously in the field of R&D&i.

A combination of research papers published by a doctoral student may also be submitted for evaluation as a doctoral thesis. The combined research papers must fall within the doctoral student’s research plan as a single work, and be recorded in the doctoral student’s activity file. The combined research papers must consist of a minimum of three published or accepted articles, book chapters, or a book, and the doctoral student must be the lead author. Publications must have been accepted for publication after the student has started their doctoral studies. The number of authors in each included publication shall not exceed four.

If so, a detailed report will be required from the thesis supervisor(s) on each author’s contribution to the published work. Depending on the report submitted, the programme’s Academic Committee will decide whether or not to accept the thesis as a compendium of publications. In addition to the publications, the doctoral thesis must necessarily include: an introduction supporting the theme of the thesis, the objectives set out to be achieved, a global summary and discussion of the results, and the final conclusions.

Submitting the Thesis

Rules for remaining in good standing

To remain in good standing in the PhD in Business and Territorial Competitiveness, Innovation and Sustainability (CETIS) programme, students must maintain reasonable daily activity in conducting their research as approved by the department under the direction of their thesis supervisor, as well as continuing the teaching and research work they have accepted as proposed by IQS, always with approval from their thesis supervisor.

The regular duration for doctoral students to complete their doctoral thesis is three full-time years, counting from a doctoral student’s enrolment in the programme until they submit their doctoral thesis. Notwithstanding the foregoing, part-time doctoral studies may be done with prior authorization from the Doctoral Programme Academic Committee. In this case, the maximum duration of doctoral studies is five years from a doctoral student’s enrolment until they submit their doctoral thesis.

Once this regular three-year period has ended, students must file a request with the Doctoral Programme Academic Committee to remain in good standing, following approval from their thesis supervisor and explaining the reasons they have requested an extension. The Doctoral Programme Academic Committee may authorize the extension of this period for one year, which may be exceptionally extended for an additional year. In the case of part-time studies, the extension may be authorised for two more years and, exceptionally, it may be extended for another additional year.

For the purposes of calculating said period, time away from the programme due to illness, pregnancy, or any other reason set out in current legislation will not be taken into account.

Also, a doctoral student may request a temporary absence from the programme for a maximum period of one year, extendable for up to one additional year. Said request must be justified and addressed to the Doctoral Programme Academic Committee, which will then decide on the appropriateness of granting the doctoral student’s request.

If said time periods have passed and a student has not yet submitted their thesis, they are no longer entitled to remain enrolled and they will be removed from the programme.

However, should this situation arise and the student believes it is due to a serious cause, he or she may request for the Doctoral Programme Academic Committee to review the possibility of remaining in good standing in their programme. The Doctoral Programme Academic Committee will issue a justified report recommending whether or not a student should remain in good standing in the doctoral programme and will submit it to the Standing Committee of the IQS School of Management Academic Board, which will make the final decision and notify the student of it through the IQS Registrar’s Office.

Students with special educational needs will be taken into account, and their thesis supervisor and doctoral tutor will personally monitor the doctoral student. Together, along with support from IQS School of Management representatives at the URL’s Observatory for Equal Opportunities, they will take the appropriate measures to address the student’s special educational needs.

Handling complaints and suggestions

Any student in the doctoral programme who wishes to make suggestions or statements that could give rise to a complaint or claim should first contact the Coordinator of the programme.

Dr Ramon Palau Saumell
IQS – Ramon Llull University
Via Augusta, 390
08017 Barcelona
Tel: (+34) 932.672.000
Fax: (+34) 932.056.266

Research lines in the PhD programme

This PhD programme is structured around two primary research lines that in turn include several sub-areas. Click on the Faculty tab for more information on the research lines of the programme’s professors.

The primary research line “Business and territorial competitiveness” addresses research carried out in the following areas:

  • Conceptualizing and measuring aporophobia
  • Determinants, dynamics, and inequalities of human capital and educational attainment in China
  • Economic and educational inequalities in special economic zones and open cities in China
  • The links between infrastructure development, inequality, and urban sustainability
  • The links between corruption, educational inequalities, and the middle income trap

The primary research line “Organizational management and business competitiveness” addresses research in the following fields:

  • Consumer Behavior (gamification, voice assistants, social media, food consumption, food waste reduction, vegetarian and vegan consumer behavior, tourist behavior, sport consumption, tourist behavior)
  • Services Marketing
  • E-Commerce & Retailing
  • Marketing of tourism destination
  • Resident attitudes of tourism destinations
  • Responsible and sustainable tourism
  • Strategic management (corporate, competitive, internationalization, and digital strategies)
  • Corporate social responsibility
  • Aporophobia
  • Determinants, dynamics, and inequalities of human capital and educational attainment in China
  • Data science and big data
  • Decision support systems based on artificial intelligence
  • Disruptive technologies in society’s new challenges
  • Corporate Governance
  • ESG reporting & performance
  • Investors’ reaction of any corporate event (event study method)
  • Investor’s sentiment analysis
  • Merger & acquisition (M&A)
  • Finance and fintech

IQS School of Management Research Groups

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