08 January 2021
Micaela Mihov was a PhD student at King's Business School.
Tell us a little bit about your PhD research topic.
My PhD thesis investigated the impact of political economy institutions on the development of infrastructure public-private partnerships in Europe. I was lucky to work in an interdisciplinary team with Gerhard Schnyder (a political scientist and comparative management researcher) and Evagelos Pafilis (an economist and PPP expert).
I have always been interested in studying the relationship between public and private provision of social goods. Having a background in political science, I had mostly studied the impact of governments, central banks or international organizations on society. However, I wanted to understand better what the role of the private sector could or should be in the context of public goods.
From the start of my PhD, my aim was to combine theory with practice. Theoretically, my PhD is grounded in organizational management studies and theories of institutional change. For my data collection, I held over 50 interviews with Public-Private Partnership professionals, including public officials, construction company managers, bankers, trade unions, business associations and civil society organisations.
What motivated you to do a PhD and what were you doing before?
Before joining King’s Business School I graduated from the London School of Economics with an MSc in Political Economy of Europe. There, I specialized in comparative capitalism, looking at the interactions between different national systems, including industrial relations, finance, education, corporate governance or inter-firm relations. I felt that I wanted to learn more about the corporate side to social responsibility.
While writing my proposal for my master’s thesis, I realized that what I wanted to research was going way beyond a master’s thesis - and that was my first step towards my PhD application.
What did you most enjoy about your PhD?
Getting to know myself better. A PhD makes you an expert in the field of research, but it is also a journey of self-reflection and learning your strength and weaknesses. Often there is plenty of support, but sometimes you are confronted with roadblocks that only you can solve. I think my PhD journey has taught me that I can overcome even the most difficult challenges and that there is always light at the end of the tunnel.
How did you find the transition from student life to research?
Every beginning is difficult, and a PhD probably won’t compare to anything you have done before. What helped me with the transition was to connect with the other PhD students from the beginning. Even though we were all researching different topics, we all experienced similar challenges along the way. Knowing this was very comforting to me and, I have made great friends for life.
Why did you choose King’s Business School?
First of all, because of my supervisor, whose academic profile I found very interesting and aligned with my research interests.
The second reason was King’s reputation for contributing to public policy debates in an interdisciplinary fashion. For me, research has always been about the cross-fertilization of different disciplines, methods and theories, balancing different perspectives and remaining open to new ideas and influences.
How did your time at King’s Business School shape your thinking about your future career and your next steps post-PhD?
The Business School strengthened my desire to use my expertise and research skills in a field where I can make a positive impact on people and society. I recently started a job at the German development agency (GIZ) where I work as an advisor for the German government on multilateral development bank policies.
This position gives me the opportunity to shape real-life policies impacting millions of people who receive development finance. It also allows me to apply my academic background to investigate how public and private financial resources can be used more effectively to help the most vulnerable communities and achieve the UN Sustainable Development Goals by 2030.
What advice would you give to those looking to study for a PhD in Public Services Management and Organisation?
If you are passionate about your research topic, enjoy being part of an international and open-minded community and have found a supervisor that loves your research topic as much as you do, then you should not hesitate any longer: King's Business School will be the right choice for your PhD journey.