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A former University of the West of Scotland (UWS) Business student has successfully completed a PhD jointly supervised by the University and another in his native Germany as part of a partnership agreement between the two institutions.

Dr Kevin Reuther first came to Scotland from through Erasmus in 2016, a programme which helps students study abroad, as part of his undergraduate degree at Westsächsische Hochschule Zwickau (WHZ) in Saxony, Germany.

Kevin enjoyed his experience so much that he decided to study towards his PhD with both UWS and WHZ.

He said: “The different research cultures in Germany and Britain fascinated me. Both have their advantages and disadvantages, and combining the two was something I found to be very rewarding.

“The research culture in Britain is very strong around empirical work and methods, while German research culture is really strong around building frameworks and models and concepts. There are different focus topics in both countries, and having supervision from both was truly beneficial.”

Kevin’s PhD was backed by funding from the Research and Development Management Association (RADMA). He was one of four students to be awarded the £52,000 scholarship, which had over 120 applicants.

His thesis, titled ‘A Systems Theory Perspective of Interconnected Influence Factors of Front-End Innovation: The Role of Organisational Structures’, was supervised by James B Johnston and Professor Milan Radosavljevic from UWS, and Professor Christian-Andreas Schumann from WHZ.

Systems theory

In his research project, Kevin used and developed systems theory approaches to research SMEs as well as corporations of the German high-tech sector. Most of his work was completed in Germany, with regular communication via phone and email with UWS.

Kevin’s PhD success has strengthened the partnership between the Scottish and German institutions, with four international PhDs now underway as well as a number of exciting joint research projects.

“Kevin’s work has confirmed just how valuable intercontinental research can be, bringing together different perspectives and backgrounds. It’s led to a stronger relationship between UWS and WHZ, and I look forward to the results of the newly identified industry and research projects in Industry 4.0 and innovation.”
James B Johnston

The completion of his doctorate rounds off a fantastic three years for Kevin, in which he presented at conferences across Europe, won prizes for his academic work and went on to secure a role as a Deputy Professor at WHZ, teaching research methods and innovation management.


Earlier in the year, Kevin also co-founded the Continental Network of the British Academy of Management (BAM) alongside James, and organised and hosted a launch event at the British Embassy in Berlin.

“I’m glad that I have this opportunity and that we as researchers can stay connected,” Kevin said. “We need new platforms where we make sure that we have regular knowledge exchange and that we all are aware that we can learn so much from each other. The network gives us that.”

Kevin compered the event, attended by notable academics from across the continent, and currently volunteers as the Executive Director of the Network.

James added: “Kevin’s progress from undergraduate student on the Erasmus programme to his international PhD has been outstanding. His research has already been presented at conferences organized by a variety of organisations including the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, RADMA and BAM.

“We’re all incredibly proud of the work that Kevin has done and the impact he’s having already, and I can’t wait to see what’s next for him.”