PhD Bursary at the University of Portsmouth

Title : Multiple Criteria Evaluation of Economic Units by Composite Indices

Application deadline: Tuesday 29 March 2016
Start date: 1 October 2016

Project description:
The measurement of performance according to a broad set of indicators has become increasingly significant within different domains ranging from evaluations of economic performances of some regions to academic ranking of universities, and so on. These rankings are based on composite indices obtained aggregating the indicators. The big issue in ranking different entities is twofold: (i) different indicators are considered; (ii) different weights are used. The latter being the most pernicious. Indeed, it is possible to enlarge the set of dimensions to include additional aspects. However, it is odd to achieve an agreement on the weights used (e.g. due to difference in personal preferences).

The project aims to develop a new methodology for composite indices by adopting the Multiple Criteria Decision Analysis (MCDA) framework to consider the whole space of weights of considered dimensions. Hence, the project aims to enhance the unavoidable subjectivity behind any ranking exercise, proposing a tool to make it controllable. The project will further address two novel aspects of composite indices: dimensions hierarchy and interaction.  While there is scope to improve the novel techniques in itself (the PhD candidate will be highly encouraged to consider this methodological aspect), the proposal aims to adopt an interdisciplinary approach to explore the effects of such a techniques once its application would be extended to other ranking exercises based on socio-economic dimensions. Based on the contrasting literature on Regional Competitiveness Index (based on a single index) and OECD initiative (deliberately renouncing to produce a single index in favour of a set of indicators), the most promising exercise would be the ranking of regions worldwide. However, the scope of analysis can be easily extended to other entities in both the private and public sector.

Specific aims to the PhD project are:
– to make an inventory of existing MCDA methods that can be adopted to handle composite indices in the sketched perspective;
– to identify some areas in which some composite index in the considered perspective can be defined;
– to adapt the identified MCDA methods and to implement them;
– to evaluate the obtained results especially with respect to existing composite indices.

The ideal candidate will have demonstrated experience working in interdisciplinary teams.

Enquiries relating to the topic should be directed to:
– Dr Gianpiero Torrisi (
– Prof Alessio Ishizaka ( or
– Prof Salvatore Greco (

The studentship will cover tuition fees and an annual grant equivalent to that offered by the ESRC – set at £14,057 per annum for 2015/16 for full-time study for a maximum of three years.  There is an allowance of £2000 for fieldwork associated with the PhD research. UK/EU residence eligibility conditions apply. This full-time studentship is open to UK/ EU students only and is located in Portsmouth Business School, Hampshire, UK.
Potential applicants can find further information on PBS Research and Research Degrees at:


Applicants will have a good first degree (minimum 2.1 or equivalent) and Masters in economics and/or finance, or another subject relevant to business and management.

How to apply:
Applications should be sent to: Lauren Payne, Postgraduate Centre, University of Portsmouth Business School, Richmond Building, Portland Street, Portsmouth PO1 3DE. Applications can be submitted electronically via: and cc

Applications should include:
· a full CV including personal details, qualifications, educational history and, where applicable, any employment or other experience relevant to the application

· contact details for TWO referees able to comment on your academic performance

· a statement of 1,000 (words) outlining the main features of a research design you would propose to meet the stated objectives, identifying the challenges this project might present and discussing how the work will build on or challenge existing research in the above field.

Interviews: Interviews will be conducted on Tuesday 26 April 2016