Doctoral School ‘Socio-Cultural Approaches in Business Studies: Theoretical Foundations and Theory-Building’

Do you want to elevate your research? Take a visiting doctoral course at USI! 


Why This Doctoral School: Motivation and Aims

Challenges of Qualitative Business Research

Qualitative business researchers employing non-mainstream theoretical and methodological approaches often face difficulties. To publish in high-quality journals and achieve impactful research, they need to engage in insightful and innovative theorising.

Developing Strong Theoretical Foundations

A significant challenge for PhD students and early-career researchers is to develop both focused literature reviews specific to their research topic and a broader understanding of the underlying theoretical frameworks that inform specific concepts and arguments.

The Doctoral School's Mission

The doctoral school, "Socio-Cultural Approaches in Business Studies", aims to equip you with a solid understanding of these broader theoretical contexts. These include interpretivism, practice & process theories, performativity, post-humanist traditions, and communication- and discourse-centred explanations.

Without a grasp of these foundational theoretical frameworks, it's challenging to develop truly innovative theorising and meaningfully advance your field. The doctoral school will also provide a theory-building workshop, delivered within the framework of the long-established Summer School in Social Sciences Methods here at USI, designed for hands-on practice in applying these theoretical backgrounds to your own research project.

Course Structure

The individual courses within the doctoral school are designed as a comprehensive programme, introducing central and interconnected sociological and cultural theory traditions relevant to qualitative management research. However, you can also enrol in these courses as standalone options.


What sets us apart?

  • Master key theoretical approaches: Gain in-depth knowledge of leading theoretical approaches and central current debates of the key theoretical traditions that inform current research in qualitative socio-cultural fields in marketing and organisation studies. Choose the courses most relevant to your research interests.
  • World-class instruction: Learn from internationally renowned scholars who are leading the way in qualitative research and the theoretical traditions proposed.
  • Theory in action: Develop practical skills in theorising from your empirical research and crafting meaningful, innovative and relevant arguments.
  • Flexible learning: Benefit from a blended format with in-person and online sessions, allowing you to participate remotely with one visit to Lugano per course.
  • Join a vibrant community: Network with fellow PhD students and faculty, fostering collaboration and intellectual exchange.

Who should apply?

The course is organised in the logic of a doctoral course, providing opportunities to grasp and discuss the key discourses and sensitising distinctions of a specific theoretical approach and/or research domain. It is also open to PostDocs who can benefit from such a foundational course. Whether you are from USI or another institution in Switzerland or Europe, we welcome you to join our network of passionate researchers.

Ready to elevate your research?

Applications for the first edition of the School focused on Interpretivism and Sensemaking, are now open!


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The Doctoral School in Socio-Cultural Approaches in Business Studies: Theoretical Foundations and Theory-Building is delivered by the Institute for Marketing and Communication Management, with generous support from the Fondo Instituzionale at Università della Svizzera italiana.