Doctorate in Business and Socioeconomic Sciences

Modul University Vienna faculty members are selected not only on the basis of scholarly principles, but also because they are excellent teachers, fascinated by their subject and capable of inspiring students. Faculty are engaged in many activities related to a new form of integrated education - one which is understood as an intertwining of decision-making competence on a professional level and personality development. Members of our academic community are encouraged to adhere to the fundamental educational values of Modul University Vienna.  These values are conveyed to students both inside and outside of the classroom through various methods and channels.

Our faculty members are highly respected experts within their local and international professional associations. The international experiences and global networks of faculty advance the university’s research. The promotion of young academics is an essential component of Modul University Vienna's mission and academic outreach.  The University orients itself towards scholar/educators interested in long-term academic careers.

The success of MU’s internal promotion efforts is reflected in our academic community’s following achievements, namely:

  • The quality of publications
  • The number of acquired research projects, as well as the quantity and quality of contributions by the faculty
  • The quality of independent teaching
  • The promotion of talented young academics
  • The number of transfer achievements for the economy (e.g. industry projects, presentations at business events and for other subject-related interest groups)
  • The incorporation in academic and other relevant, non-academic networks
  • Awards and distinctions
  • The active participation in the university’s sustainability process


Benefit from connections to MU professors and join this group of academics with their specific research fields and supervision topics:

  • Web & Network Science
  • Recommender Systems
  • User Behavior
  • Data Mining
  • Information Organization
  • Social Computing
  • Social Media
  • Crowdsourcing
  • AR/VR
  • Media multitasking
  • Selfie campaigns
  • Digital signage systems in retailing
  • Blockchain applications in marketing
  • Eating behavior and food preferences
  • Food labelling
  • Meat substitute products
  • Unhealthy-tasty intuition
  • Associative learning
  • Common good phenomenon
  • Business implications of blockchain/distributed ledger technology
  • Economic implications of blockchain/distributed ledger technology
  • Big Data Analysis in Tourism Research: Hope or Hype
  • Destination Competitiveness as Explanatory Construct: A Meta-Analysis
  • Measuring Destination Image: A Comparative Assessment of Methods Analyzing Three-Way Data
  • Methods for exploring causality in tourist behavior
  • Tourism demand modeling and forecasting (including air passenger and air cargo demand, hotel room demand, Airbnb demand)
  • Web-based leading indicators in tourism demand modeling and forecasting (e.g., metadata from social media, geotagged photos, etc.)
  • Machine-learning and hybrid models in tourism demand modeling and forecasting
  • Spatial aspects in tourism demand modeling and forecasting (e.g., spatial correlation, proximity to POIs, network effects)
  • Causal inference in tourism demand modeling and forecasting (e.g., using the COVID-19 pandemic as a natural experiment)
  • Airbnb and hotel room pricing
  • Indigenous and community-based ecotourism as a sustainable development strategy (including sustainable land use)
  • Making European city and regional tourism more environmentally sustainable
  • Integrating a tourism sector into a macroeconomic DSGE model for policy analysis and forecasting

Mapping the motivations of social entrepreneurs is instrumental in determining the policies that can impact the sector.  Social entrepreneurs as altruistic economic actors do not fit the classic economic agency paradigm.   There is need for qualitative and quantitative research on the determinants of their roles, agendas and relations as suggested in an article by Christopoulos and Vogl (2015) in the Journal of Social Entrepreneurship, (see also my work with Stirzaker et al., 2021).  Multiple methodologies and research designs can be suitable for this task.  Representative surveys, informant surveys, in-depth interviews, psychometric tests, network surveys etc.  This area of research is particularly conducive to mixed method designs that can employ semantic analysis (ibid), network analysis, qualitative analysis and quantitative analysis.

Decision making within small groups is affected by the power differentials between actors and the way actors relate to one another.  These relations in turn affect the capacity of those with a psychological predisposition to leadership to impact decisions (Christopoulos, 2016).  This effect of networks is presumed instrumental for the way groups cohere, fragment, conflict, innovate and bond.  Network structure has also been proven to affect the efficiency of decision making, the engagement and motivation of participants and the equity of decisions (Kalish & Robins, 2006).  This theme lends itself to those with an interest on the analysis of relations.  Research can be conducted through a qualitative analysis of monitored decisions, the use of semi-experimental designs, social experiments, psychometrics, field-experiments and decision analysis among others.  Research skills in any or all of qualitative, quantitative or network analysis methodologies and research designs would be instrumental.   

Political agents sometimes “punch above their weight”.  Often, political outcomes cannot be explained by a mere aggregation of the political preferences of actors leveraged by their power.  Indeed, it has been suggested that political entrepreneurs, brokers and oscillating entrepreneurs-brokers (Christopoulos and Ingold, 2015) affect political outcomes by also leveraging their relations and in this way counteract the impact of more powerful or better resourced actors in their network (Ingold, Fisher & Christopoulos, 2021). Such a study would require identifying a volatile policy area and employing a policy network model (Knoke, Diani, Hollway & Christopoulos, 2021) to define a boundary among actors/stakeholders for whom the policy outcomes are highly salient.  A scholarly interest in policy making analysis is assumed.  Qualitative, quantitative, and network analysis methodologies and research designs could all bring interesting insights into such an analysis.  Models for decision analysis could also be of interest here, while a theory of the policy process (such as Sabatier’s Advocacy Coalition Framework or Ostrom’s Institutional Analysis and Development framework) could be employed to offer a guide in theorizing how political processes impact policy outcomes.    

An integration of policy evaluation and policy analysis can determine whether changes to a policy area are feasible.  The evaluation of policy will determine its impact.  Policy analysis will determine how the policy was devised.  We need to remember that political compromise is often behind a policy outcome.  This means that it is not only the interest of actors and stakeholders that count but the context of the political process.  I am keen on studies of regional economic policy or innovation policy.  For example, a study could entail taking account of the impact of the interaction between political and economic actors to regional development (Christopoulos, 2014) enhancing it with an evaluation of regional policies.  This will represent a more comprehensive evaluation of feasible alternatives than usually offered in the literature.   A research design that involves field work is strongly advised.  A skill in econometric analysis is desirable but not essential.  Excellent methodological training is however indispensable to allow navigating the combination of the relevant research frames.

  • Applied Economic Theory and Policy focusing on:
    • tourism and leisure industries,
    • econometrics around  tourism forecasts and modelling,
    • tourism satellite accounts, and
    • impact analyses.
  • Development and assessment of tourism-policy programs
  • Resilience of Socio-Economic Systems, especially the sub-system tourism
  • Consumer Behavior
  • Marketing Research
  • Pricing and Sensory Marketing

There is still demand of clarifying the role of different institutional actors in helping to initiate and develop transition processes towards sustainable development at the local and regional level. More recently, there is research published in the area of regional transitions to sustainability  which includes the institutional perspective in regions and their potential to foster regional development. Research on regional transition processes which imply the ability to absorb external shocks and activate self-regulative processes could help to understand how certain regions could escape of existing lock-ins. Concepts like transition management or evolutionary governance combined with the theory of resilience and path dependence could provide a basis for PhD research.

Relevant questions are: What kinds of governance structures at the regional level have proved successful in addressing external shock and providing resilience? What kinds of regional strategies are needed in order to initiate transition processes? This type of research will most likely concentrate on comparative case study research which has to be understood as research strategy involving an empirical investigation where it is important to include multiple sources of evidence and therefore ideally follow a mixed methods approach. This could be a set of individual case studies which would help to identify certain types of phenomena under study, e.g. studies of particular public and/or private and third sector organizations and institutions or processes of change and adaptation. In such case a sequential explanatory research strategy would have to be adopted where in order to explain and interpret the quantitative data collected in the first phase.

Human carrying capacity is discussed in the literature in the context of regional sustainability and implies resilience of regions’ social-ecological systems. If regions have a limited capacity to provide resources and services then economic activities effect the socioeconomic system negatively. Thus the question of how to manage regions on the basis of their measured carrying capacity becomes a core question for territorial development. Thus research on different measurement systems for the carrying capacity of specific types of regions and their contribution to regional sustainability helps to understand how regions learn to adapt to changing socioeconomic and environmental conditions.

Environmental problems and issues, such as climate change, are inherently political in nature, which increases the need for legitimate and transparent democratic processes that allow societies and local communities to choose policies that they see as both equitable and effective. Around the world, cities are experimenting with new forms of governance that include collaboration and partnerships with civil society and business actors but what are the lessons learned and how can cities and regions learn from each other.

PhD research could focus on the effectiveness of different types of governance structures and mechanisms and include a policy analysis and process and impact evaluation of existing policies. Another angle could be the identification of factors supporting/limiting participatory governance mechanisms which seems to be a key when it comes to climate governance. A comparative analysis of ‘successful’ cities and regions could help to fill a research gap. Such an evaluation research would help to assess the effects and effectiveness of certain policies which allows to apply qualitative, quantitative, and mixed methods depending on the type of evaluation (impact or process evaluation). If the interest focusses more on the regional climate governance performance and the combined regional development assessment than classical quantitative methods may need to be applied (factor analysis, regression analysis, logit models, structural equation models, etc.).

Work could concentrate on the question of co-existence, interaction and co-evolution of different governance regimes where empirical investigations detected different types of interactions between the regimes and provide a good basis for future research. This should put more emphasis on the mechanisms through which one regime might influence another and how emerging governance regimes initiate and shape transition processes. From a methodological point of view a mixed methods approach would allow to intensify triangulation as well as supplementing more comparative empirical studies.

  • Wellbeing, needs and happiness
  • Environmental Psychology
  • Green voting

Dr. Ivo Ponocny is unavailable for new supervisions at present.

Other Doctoral Projects

Many of MU's teaching staff are currently working on doctoral-level dissertations.  For more information, please visit the Doctoral Dissertation Projects page.