Will Mitchell Dissertation Research Grant Program

The Will Mitchell Dissertation Research Grant Program (WMDRG), part of the Strategy Research Foundation (SRF) of the Strategic Management Society, aims to support doctoral student dissertation research in the field of strategic management. In 2022, SMS renamed this Grant Funding Program the Will Mitchell Dissertation Research Grant Program to honor the dedicated scholar that passed away in December 2021. An enthusiastic member of the field, Will Mitchell was committed to supporting doctoral students and promoting research in strategic management. This grant funding program aligns with those objectives, supporting research that can have substantive impact.

The WMDRG funds are intended to supplement other financial resources available to students and to support elements of their research that enhance the quality, expand the scope, augment the research design, or in some other way enrich their dissertation projects.

2023 Call for Proposals

Target Applicant: A full-time student studying strategic management in a research doctoral program at an accredited institution. Ideal applicants are at the dissertation stage with 2-3 years remaining at the time of application.

Funding & Key Terms: Grants of up to US$10,000 to support direct dissertation research expenses such as data collection that are required for completion of the doctoral degree (Ph.D. or equivalent). No institutional overhead or researcher stipends will be covered.


The SRF recognizes that dissertation program structures vary but suggests that applicants will have completed at least half of their home institution’s program requirements, including preliminary or qualifying requirements (such as coursework, comprehensive examinations/research proposal defense) prior to submitting an application. Ideal applicants will be sufficiently advanced in their doctoral programs to have well-defined dissertation plans and early enough in the execution of their dissertation work to benefit from the support of dissertation expenses and the SRF Dissertation Scholars Workshop that will be held during the first year of the grant period. Previous recipients of SRF WMDRG program funds are not eligible to apply for additional funds.

All SRF grants aim to support research that has not been undertaken. Thus, completed work is not eligible for funding.


Financial support will cover direct research and data collection expenses (e.g., purchase of data or subscriptions to databases, surveys and respondent incentives, and interviews of research subjects and related travel) as well as travel expenses for participation in SRF Scholar activities at the 2023 and 2024 SMS Annual Conferences (capped at US$2,000 in total). Research activities with funding limits include: Research Assistance (capped at US$4,000); Transcription Services (capped at US$4,000). Ineligible expenses include but are not limited to: compensation for the Scholar’s time, purchases of software or equipment, copyediting and other expenses associated with the dissertation document, university overhead, tuition and other personal expenses, and expenses for conference travel, except as noted above. Determination of eligible and ineligible expenses rests with the SRF.

When a proposal is accepted for funding, the SRF will prepare a written agreement that details the responsibilities of both the Scholar and the SRF. Grant funds awarded will be disbursed at the start of the two-year grant period beginning January 1, 2023.

Deliverables & Activities

Dissertation Scholars are expected to provide the following deliverables: periodic update reports, an executive summary of the research findings, a copy of the dissertation, and documentation of the expenses incurred. All Scholars are expected to participate in the SRF Dissertation Scholars Workshop at the 2023 SMS Annual Conference and the SRF Scholars Session at the 2024 SMS Annual Conference. Scholars participating in these activities will receive Annual Conference registration fee waivers.

Submission Guidelines

Proposals are to be submitted through the online submission system. All proposal materials must be in English. A submission consists of the following:

  • Dissertation title
  • Applicant name
  • Doctoral institution
  • Dissertation advisor
  • Name of outside committee members, if any (to avoid conflict in review process)
  • Amount requested (in US Dollars)
  • Anticipated doctoral program completion date
  • Three keywords that characterize the proposed research
  • Summary (500 words) of the proposed research project
  • Research proposal of up to 10 pages, double-spaced, with the following structure:
    1. Specific research question(s) to be addressed, review of the relevant strategic management literature, and expected contributions to the field of strategic management
    2. Research design, including description of proposed data and analysis techniques.
    3. Cited reference
  • Timetable/Schedule
  • Detailed budget in US Dollars, including specific items proposed for SRF funding and sources of support other than SRF
  • Expected impact of SRF funding on the quality of the research
  • Applicant’s CV
  • A recommendation letter from the applicant’s dissertation advisor in support of the proposal. This letter will be requested through the submission portal and should be completed by the dissertation advisor. It should include a statement of the applicant’s stage of completion in the dissertation work and doctoral program, verification that the research components for which funding is sought have yet to be undertaken and are anticipated to be part of the applicant’s dissertation, and a description of the difference the award would make to the quality or nature of the dissertation.

Proprietary Right & Acknowledgements

Grant recipients will retain the copyrights to all materials prepared in connection with the funded project. However, it is expected that the SRF will be granted an irrevocable, royalty-free license in perpetuity to use such materials for non-commercial purposes furthering the mission of the SRF. The SRF requires that any publication of the resulting research in articles or other forms includes an acknowledgment that the research was funded in part by the SRF of the Strategic Management Society.

Timetable & Evaluation Process

The SRF submission deadline is October 2, 2023. Notification of SRF Will Mitchell Dissertation Scholar Awards will be made by January 1, 2024. Submissions will be reviewed using the following criteria:

  • Contribution to strategic management theory: Are the frameworks employed, the data to be used, and/or the potential results to be obtained likely to make a new and substantial theoretical or empirical contribution to the academic field of strategic management?
  • Conceptual and empirical contributions: Does this dissertation study a new phenomenon? Even if the phenomenon is not new, is the dissertation’s empirical base novel?
  • Novelty of the research topic/question: Is this dissertation likely to start a new or redirect an existing line of inquiry in the field of strategic management?
  • Research design and methodological rigor: Are the data appropriate for the theory being built or tested? Are the procedures appropriate for the research questions? Is there adequate description of the methods used? Is validity properly justified?
  • Quality of writing: Is language used consistently? Are the arguments made clearly? Does the writing flow naturally?
  • Managerial implications: Is this dissertation likely to yield important advice for managers in private or public organizations?
  • Expected impact of the funding: Is SRF funding likely to make a significant difference to the quality, scope, or other characteristics of the dissertation that will enhance its conceptual and/or empirical contribution to theory and/or practice?

Learn more about specific eligibility requirements, submission guidelines, and the evaluation process by reading the 2023 Call for Proposals.

Important WMDRG Dates

JULY 1, 2023
Submission System Opens

OCTOBER 2, 2023
Submission Deadline

Notification of Review Committee Decisions

JANUARY 1, 2024
Grant Period Begins

DECEMBER 31, 2025
Grant Period Ends