The industrial graduate school in digital retailing (INSiDR) is a collaborative project between University of Borås (UB), Jönköping University (JU) and University of Skövde (UoS), funded by the Knowledge Foundation. The project was launched in April 2018 and will initially fund 10 PhD projects, starting in the autumn of 2018. The University of Borås organizes and manages INSiDR and PhD students are admitted to a PhD programme at Jönköping University, in either Business Administration or Informatics, or admitted at University of Skövde in Information Technology.
The graduate school stems from an identified need for integrated research initiatives studying the fundamental transformations resulting from digitalization. This includes analysis of the long-term and wider implications of digitalization on retailing, as well as development of novel solutions that will improve competitiveness. To successfully tackle these challenges, retailers need specialist knowledge of both retail and IT, and crucially, the ability to combine these in multi-disciplinary projects. The business challenges addressed in the PhD projects span from organizational and business model issues, traditionally studied in business administration, to technical solutions focusing on data analysis, regarding both software and hardware, from information technology. Each PhD project is partially funded by an industrial partner and the doctoral candidates spend the majority of their time at the company. Of the ten PhD students hired in the first round of admissions in 2018, eight will be employed by the industrial partners.
The industrial partners reflect the diverse nature of these challenges and represent agents connected to many aspects of retail. In addition to traditional retail companies, partners include a financial institution, an IT consulting firm and consultancy and analytics firms with a special focus on the service industry and on business development. What they have in common is a clear interest in business development, a desire to strengthen their competitiveness and to participate in an innovation platform for retail.
The research questions for each PhD project are designed to combine a high degree of business relevance with scientific impact, and are formulated together by doctoral students, supervisors and business partners, thus ensuring that co-production is embedded in each project from the start.