Funded PhD Position in the International Political Economy of Investment commencing 2021

Funded PhD Position in International Political Economy in the School of Social and Political Sciences at the University of Melbourne commencing 2021.

Expressions of Interest are invited for a PhD scholarship associated with an interdisciplinary Australian Research Council Discovery Project ‘Balancing National Security and Economic Interests in Foreign Investment’ supervised by Professor Andrew Walter at the University of Melbourne. This is an exceptional opportunity to work closely with a senior and interdisciplinary team of researchers based in Melbourne including Professor Tania Voon (Law), Professor Phil McCalman (Economics), and Dr Laura Puzzello (Economics, Monash). The position is full time and the successful applicant will pursue an independent PhD research project aligned with the larger ARC project under the primary supervision of Professor Walter and in collaboration with other members of the team.

The PhD

We are seeking a highly motivated candidate with demonstrably strong research skills and academic background to undertake a project on “the political economy of investment policy”, ideally with a focus on China and other emerging economies. The following skills will be advantageous to applicants: experience in research on the political economy of investment policymaking in China; fluency in spoken and written Mandarin; interdisciplinary exposure to international law or international economics; expertise in qualitative and/or quantitative analysis and programming. The candidate would be expected to devise their own PhD project within these parameters and thereby make an important contribution to the overall project (described below). In addition to working on a PhD, there will be an expectation that the candidate will work as part of the team to develop a global database on FDI policy and to exploring in the case of China and other countries the causes of variation and evolution in FDI policies. The candidate will be expected to undertake fieldwork research in China and potentially elsewhere and will receive training in social science research, interviewing, data collection, coding and analysis, and independent publication. There would also be opportunities to undertake joint publications with other members of the team and where possible to participate in international conferences.

The scholarship would commence in March 2021 and offers 100% fee offset and a living allowance of $31,200 per year pro rate (2020 full time study date) for 3.5 years. Applicants for this scholarship must meet the entry requirements for the Doctor of Philosophy in Arts (full details can be found on the Doctor of Philosophy - Arts web pages) and have received a minimum result of first-class Honours or equivalent in their undergraduate degree and/or demonstrated a similarly high level of performance in a graduate degree. Meeting the University's English language requirements is essential.

The Australian Research Council (ARC) project

With the rise of emerging economies such as China and the advent of the digital age, many countries are increasingly tightening restrictions on inward foreign investment based on national security concerns. These concerns arise particularly when state-owned enterprises (SOEs) and those connected with authoritarian regimes attempt to invest in sensitive sectors, including those designated as encompassing “critical infrastructure.” Chinese technology companies such as Huawei have been especially targeted by these and related restrictions in numerous countries, contributing to growing geopolitical tensions regarding international trade and foreign investment. The project begins from the proposition that we currently lack an integrated understanding of the nature, causes and implications of these ongoing policy shifts. The team aims to provide interdisciplinary research and policy analysis to illuminate how governments balance the demands of national security and the benefits of economic integration, through three overlapping aims:

  1. To identify the nature, extent and causes of the growing securitisation of and divergence between countries’ policies on inward foreign investment
  2. To investigate the economic and political implications of these policy shifts and their consistency with international trade law and international investment law; and
  3. To identify reforms to domestic and international policy regimes concerning foreign investment to adjust better to the digitalisation of the economy and the rise of emerging markets and state-linked investment

Expression of interest

To submit an expression of interest, please provide the following by 31 August 2020:

  1. A cover letter that sets out why your skills, background and interests make you a strong candidate for this position (no more than two pages)
  2. A statement of your intended PhD project reflecting the requirements set out above (no more than three pages)
  3. A resumé setting out your background and qualifications, and listing three referees (no more than five pages)
  4. University transcripts

Shortlisted candidates will be interviewed.

Express your interest now


Email Professor Andrew Walter