System Integration through Network Governance in NHS Place-based Partnerships (SYNC)

The School for Business and Society is delighted to offer this postgraduate research studentship opportunity

  • Funding: A yearly stipend of £19,237 (in line with current UKRI rates) and fee waiver at home student fee rates for three years
  • Academic year: 2024/25
  • Open to: UK (home) students
  • Qualification level: Postgraduate research
Applications for 2024/25 are closed.

The School for Business and Society was formed in 2022 through a merger between The York Management School and the Department of Social Policy and Social Work. Our research is cross-disciplinary and draws together activities that other universities normally locate in separate Business Schools and Schools of Public Policy. Reflecting York’s long-standing strengths in both of these areas we are the largest organisational unit at the University, and we are at the forefront of the University's mission to be a University for public good.

As part of our investment in the next generation of academic researchers, we are pleased to offer this PhD Project studentship. The successful candidate will join a large and diverse postgraduate research community in the School for Business and Society.


Open to UK (home) students only.

If you are offered the scholarship you must then apply for a place on the PhD in Management (full-time and campus-based) and must take up that place in order to qualify for and accept the scholarship.

This scholarship is not available for part-time or distance learning routes.

You cannot apply for this scholarship if you are already registered on a PhD programme at the University of York.

How to apply

Application deadline: Friday 31 May 2024, 5pm BST

Please send your academic CV, degree transcripts/certificates, two academic references, and a covering letter by email to

The covering letter should explain your suitability for the PhD Project with reference to your academic background and interests, as well as the essential and desirable criteria listed. Please ensure that the subject title of your email and covering letter clearly indicate the PhD Project to which you are applying. The deadline for receipt of applications is 17:00 (UK time) on Friday 31 May 2024. Applications received after the deadline will not be considered.

If you are shortlisted for the post you will be called for an interview via zoom in the week commencing 10 June 2024.

How we allocate

The ideal student will present:

-An educational background in Management, Health Services Research, Social Policy or cognate discipline (Essential).
-Excellent communication skills and teamwork abilities (Essential)
-Proactive and problem-solving approach (Essential)
-Enthusiasm for conducting research in a challenge-driven, interdisciplinary project (Essential)
-Knowledge of social science research methods (Essential)
-Experience with qualitative research will be considered valuable (Desirable)
-Experience with working in a professional setting in the public sector, in the NHS or healthcare organisations will be considered valuable (Desirable)
-Experience with building and maintaining collaborations with external stakeholders and non-academic partners will be considered valuable (Desirable)

Terms and conditions

The scholarship will pay a yearly stipend of £19,237 (in line with current UKRI rates) and provide a fee waiver at home student fee rates for three years.

Contact details

Professor Federica Angeli

The PhD student will be supervised by Professor Federica Angeli and Professor Ian Kirkpatrick from the School for Business and Society.

Federica’s research focuses on understanding how new organisational forms and inter-organisational networks generate, adapt and learn to address complex social issues, such as poverty alleviation and inclusive healthcare delivery. This intellectual curiosity has led to interdisciplinary work at policy and (inter-)organisational level of analysis. For example, she examined the effects of the Health Insurance Act and of the Health and Social Care Act – two major policy reforms in the Netherlands and in the UK respectively – on hospital inter-organizational ties. She also considered the underpinning of hospital cooperation and competition in both the Dutch and Italian context and she is currently looking at how mobility patterns of board directors and middle management affect the dissemination of strategic knowledge within the NHS, through longitudinal network analysis. The project draws on Federica’s experience with qualitative, quantitative and mixed-method studies, on her expertise in studying organisational networks in healthcare, across contexts, and the effect of policy interventions. The project will also substantially extend her work on network governance in healthcare, by providing the opportunity to study effectiveness and cooperation at multiple levels and across different networks, as well as the possibility to appreciate the effects of the new policy on cooperative practices.

Ian’s research interests are in the area of the changing management of public services and professional organisations. He has conducted a number of studies focusing on developments in social services and healthcare, most recently drawing on large scale (routine) administrative data sources to profile the management characteristics of health care organisations and the impact of managers. His widely cited work on managers has helped to demonstrate how the NHS is currently under-managed and highlights the relationship between managers and performance outcomes in the acute trust sector. Ian has also explored the relationship between management consultants in the NHS and efficiency, more recently comparing the impact of internal and external consultants. A further strand of his research has focused on the role of clinical leaders, especially at board levels of NHS organisations, and how these leaders contribute to service improvement. While much of Ian’s work looks at the NHS, and is regularly covered by the UK press, he has also conducted studies of the Italian, Danish and Chinese public healthcare systems, investigating similar topics. Building on this work, he has contributed to the comparative literature on healthcare systems and the role of managers in particular.

In 2022, the English NHS underwent a major re-organisation to establish 42 regional Integrated Care Systems (ICS), governed by Integrated Care Boards. The aim of this reform is to achieve a transformation in how primary, community and secondary health services (such as hospitals) work together to develop preventative services and a stronger focus on public health. Our advertised project - ‘System Integration through Network Governance in NHS Place-based Partnerships (SYNC)’ – aims to understand the challenges, opportunities and evolution of these reforms by focusing on evolution of Place-based Partnerships (PbP), within one ICS. PbPs are new structures which aim to support system integration through cooperation among agents in different sectors. Their purpose is to ensure that patient care pathways are more continuous and coordinated, to foster integration between health and social care services in the community and to further embed health and social care within the broader social and economic development of regions. The SYNC project focuses specifically on understanding the dynamics and effects of collaboration within PbPs on reducing health and socio-economic inequalities and also enabling an ecosystem of inclusive growth. Theoretically, the project will be located within broad debates about healthcare organisation and leadership, drawing on ideas from organisational theory and public administration. Within this broad area of investigation, the PhD student will have the opportunity to develop new understanding of PbPs, as an emerging new organisational form, of the challenges faced by PbPs and their impact on patient and broader societal outcomes. Informed by a close collaboration with one local PbB - the York Health and Care Partnership – the project will also generate insights that are useful for clinical and management practitioners seeking to develop and implement new approaches towards integrated healthcare.

Contact us

PGR Administration team
+44 (0)1904 325962