PhD Researcher - the Structure and Evolution of Regional Organisations

The United Nations University Institute on Comparative Regional Integration Studies (UNU-CRIS) and the International Trade, Investment and Migration research group of the Department of Economics at Ghent University (ITIM) call for applications for one PhD position (up to 4 years).

The deadline for submitting applications is 1 May 2020.

The ideal start date is 1 October 2020, but this is negotiable.

The Project

Recent developments in the quantification of the agreements underlying regional integration (e.g., Hosmann, Osnago and Rutha, 2019, World Trade Review) allow us, for the first time, to compare and contrast the contents of these agreements on a global scale. This puts researchers in a position where they can analyse the evolution of regional and global integration in new and exciting ways, one of which is through social network analysis.

In this project, we will apply social network analysis in order to create an image of the interconnections of bilateral and multilateral agreements and organisations underpinning these forms of integration. The project also aims to pay special attention to the differences in type, content and performance of those agreements, something that has been largely overlooked until now. Using state-of-the-art social network analysis tools, such as stochastic block modelling of a multi-layered network, we will assess how changes in the membership of regional organisations both affect and are affected by their institutional setup and the de-facto performance of the agreement.

We are looking for someone with a strong quantitative background and a keen interest in social network analysis to strengthen our UNU-CRIS research team on comparative regional integration.


The ideal candidate must:

  • hold a Master of Science in Economics or a closely related field, and belong to the top 20% of your class.
    • Candidates who obtain their diploma in the course of the academic year 2019-2020 can also apply for this position.
    • For diplomas awarded outside the European Union, a certificate of equivalence (NARIC) must be submitted. The degree requirements need to be fulfilled at the start of your appointment.
    • Candidates who do not have a master's degree that was awarded in a country of the European Economic Area (EEA) or Switzerland must also submit GRE test scores or GMAT scores (percentile ranking).
    • An additional advanced / research master's degree in economics would be an advantage.
  • have a strong motivation to conduct academic research on international economics and regional integration
  • be fluent and have excellent communication skills in English
  • have (starter) skills in statistical, econometric and quantitative data analysis and experience with statistical packages; and a keen interest to develop these further.
  • have (starter) skills in social network analysis, and a keen interest to develop these further.
  • be able and willing to work in a team
  • be willing to participate in academic conferences and to publish in international peer-reviewed journals

Successful candidates are required to enter the PhD program in Economics of the Faculty of Economics and Business Administration of Ghent University. The candidate is required to complete the doctoral training program consisting of advanced courses in Economics.


We offer a competitive, full-time PhD scholarship. The position is for four years, conditional upon a positive evaluation after the second year. If you have been previously appointed as a junior assistant or doctoral fellow at a university within the Flemish Community, this appointment may be deducted from the maximum term of appointment.

Remuneration is at the level of a full-time research assistant at a Flemish university (i.e. approximately €1900 net per month) and includes contributions for social security. Secondary employment is not allowed.

The researcher will be guided by Prof. Dr. Samuel Standaert. The successful candidate is expected to be based at the UNU-CRIS premises in Bruges (Belgium) while keeping close ties with the Department of Economics at Ghent University. Office space and equipment will be provided.

All Ghent University staff members enjoy a number of benefits, such as a wide range of training and education opportunities, 38 days of paid leave, bicycle commuting reimbursement, ecocheques, etc.

How to Apply

The candidate will be selected on the basis of their expertise, work experience and qualifications, as well as a short reflection on the research theme. The following application documents are to be submitted in the following form:

  1. A curriculum vitae listing all academic qualifications, relevant research experience and previous publications
  2. A one-page motivation letter explaining your interest and qualifications for this position
  3. Two letters of recommendation (including contact details)
  4. A transcript of the required diploma (if already in your possession). If you have a foreign diploma in a language other than the national languages of Belgium (Dutch, French or German) or English, please add a translation in one of the mentioned languages.
    1. For diplomas awarded outside the European Union a certificate of equivalence (NARIC) must be submitted. (This can be requested via
  5. A pdf-copy of the master dissertation or undergraduate dissertation (for those with a masters in progress)

The deadline for applications is 1 May 2020. Short-listed candidates will be informed by 15 May and interviews with top-listed candidates are expected to take place by the end of May. The successful candidate can start as of 1 October 2020 or as soon thereafter as possible.

Further Information

For further inquiries on the content of this research program, please contact Prof. Dr. Samuel Standaert ( For administrative questions, please contact Pascale Vantorre ( with Andrew Dunn ( in CC.