PhD Social Science: Focus on Networks of Global Production, Human Rights, Environmental Regulation

Research / Academic

The Department of Political Science at the University of Amsterdam (UvA) is looking for a PhD candidate to conduct research in the project “Protecting people and planet through supply chain legislation?”. The project is funded by the Dutch Science Association (Nederlandse Wetenschaps Organisatie, NWO) and led by Dr. Luc Fransen. The PhD candidate will be embedded in the Amsterdam Institute for Social Science Research (AISSR) at the Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences.

From laptops to smartphones, from garments to toys, from furniture to foodstuff: many goods and commodities nowadays are produced through firms trading across borders. Expansion and intensification of linkages in the global economy allows the production of more and more goods to be organized in so-called global supply chains. At the same time, global competitive pressures and lack of government protections also lead to disregard for labor rights, human rights and environmental risks in production processes. This has led to calls for large buying firms to better monitor their supply chains and prevent or address exploitation, repression, pollution and depletion of natural resources. Analysts and policymakers alike for some time now have questioned whether the voluntary activities that firms develop to address these risks in supply chains indeed can protect people and planet. This is why governments across Europe and North America currently introduce binding legislation for buying firm’s duties to protect labor, human rights and the environment in global supply chains. The project of which this PhD position is part, investigates whether contemporary global supply chains as an economic structure facilitate such law’s intended effects. If we observe that these laws target only larger firms in a market, and that many countries in the world have not initiated such legislations for buying firms, nor observable ambitions at present to do so, will such legal obligations on buying firms make a positive difference in global supply chains?

The PhD candidate selected for this position will conduct Social Network Analysis of global supply chains, informed by the shape of existing and emerging legislation seeking to address buyers and their supply networks in an attempt to protect human rights, labor and the environment. Further information about the research project may be found here.

What are you going to do?
You will:

  • be affiliated with the AISSR and participate in its organized PhD training. The academic work is to result in a doctoral dissertation that will be defended at the Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences at the University of Amsterdam with the goal of obtaining a PhD degree;
  • conduct PhD research on supply chains, supply chain law, corporate strategy and human rights, labor and environmental conditions of production based on primarily Big Data collected by third parties, in combination with publicly available statistics;
  • take active part in the research environment at the AISSR, including project group meetings and research seminars;
  • teach Bachelor-level courses, depending upon availability and as is suitable for the PhD schedule;
  • assist with administrative responsibilities related to the project (ca. 5% of the time), such as the organization of workshops or other project events;
  • make Amsterdam (or a location within commuting distance) your primary residence for the duration of the PhD project. The AISSR will assist with finding adequate housing and with applying for visa and residence permits.


Your experience and profile:

You have the following credentials:


  • a Master, Research Master or equivalent degree in the social sciences, business management, data sciences or computational sciences. The degree must have been obtained by the start of your employment;
  • Affinity with social science approaches, as evidenced by either social science degree obtained or social science skills acquired as part of degree obtained in another academic field;
  • excellent oral and written communication skills in English;
  • excellent command of quantitative research methods;
  • knowledge of Social Network Analysis methods;
  • you are curious about global supply chains;
  • you care about human rights, labor and/or environmental issues;
  • a commitment to academic integrity and transparency;
  • independent thinking and critical analytical skills;
  • the ability to work independently;
  • the ability to collaborate in a team.


  • experience with research involving Social Network Analysis;
  • experience working with large datasets;
  • experience with data sciences, advanced statistics or other computational methods.

Salary Benefits:

The position concerns a temporary appointment of 38 hours per week for a maximum term of four years. The initial appointment is for one year, starting no later than 1 February 2024. Following a positive assessment after 12 months and barring other unforeseen circumstances, your appointment will be extended by a maximum of 36 months, at the end of which a doctorate should be conferred. You will follow a curriculum with other AISSR PhD candidates. You will also have the opportunity to attend additional training courses, summer schools and both national and international conferences and workshops.

Your salary will be €2770 gross per month in the first year and will increase to €3539 in the final year, based on full-time employment and in keeping with the Collective Labour Agreement for Dutch Universities. (This salary includes increasing from 1 August of the collective bargaining agreement NU 2023). We additionally offer an extensive package of secondary benefits, including 8% holiday allowance and a year-end bonus of 8.3%.

The UvA offers excellent possibilities for further professional development and education.

A stimulating work environment with a variety of duties and ample scope for individual initiative and development within an inspiring organisation. The social and behavioural sciences play a leading role in addressing the major societal challenges faced by the world, the Netherlands and Amsterdam, now and in the future.

To work at the University of Amsterdam is to work in a discerning, independent, creative, innovative and international climate characterised by an open atmosphere and a genuine engagement with the city of Amsterdam and society.

The University of Amsterdam (UvA) is a university with an internationally acclaimed profile, located at the heart of the Dutch capital. The UvA is a member of the League of European Research Universities.

Work Hours:

38 hours per week


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