PhD Candidate – The Geography of Corporate Financialization – Leuven, Belgium

The Division of Geography & Tourism at KU Leuven (Belgium) is looking for a full-time PhD candidate for 4 years. Together with a postdoctoral researcher you will work on the research project “The Geography of Corporate Financialization”, which will be part of the “Real Estate/Financial Complex” (REFCOM) research group, coordinated by dr. Manuel B. Aalbers. REFCOM is an internationally comparative and transdisciplinary research group looking into the increasing interconnectedness of real estate and finance, and the role of states, politics and institutions. This particular research project is funded by Research Foundation Flanders (see


The financialization of the economy is widely discussed in the literature. There is evidence of a shift towards finance at the level of the economy at large as well as regarding the financialization of households, but the literature on the financialization of traditionally non-financial firms is less conclusive. The problem is that our understandings—and our statistics—of manufacturing firms versus financial firms are becoming increasingly outdated. New data sources and conceptualizations are needed to understand the contemporary economy. Our first aim is to show to what extent, nonfinancial corporations in different economic sectors make profit in the so-called “real” versus the “financial” sphere. Our second aim is to arrive at an understanding of the reasons for and workings of financialization in non-financial corporations, in particular those working on the built environment. We present a mixed methods study that consists of a largely quantitative study based on the analysis of a large international corporate dataset on the hand and on the other a set of four case studies of financialized corporations working on the built environment. As such, the project starts with data mining and quantitative analysis of recent historical trends and the geography of these trends for different economic sectors; and continues with a case study approach that includes sector- and firm-specific data as well as in-depth interviews, company documents and reporting on firm strategies.


  • An MSc/MA level university degree in Geography, Sociology or another social science;
  • Proficiency in English is a prerequisite, proficiency in other languages an advantage for fieldwork;
  • Affinity with both quantitative and qualitative research methods is an advantage; we are not looking for someone to perform econometric analysis, but it does help if you have good statistics and computer skills;
  • The candidate is willing to move to Belgium, but also willing to travel to other places for fieldwork, research cooperations (e.g. Amsterdam) and conferences;
  • The candidate is willing to assist in teaching tasks (not more than a few hours/week, on average);
  • Candidates who are familar with the financialization literature will have an advantage, so will candidates that have finished a master’s thesis in economic geography or economic sociology. If you are trained as an economist, it is important that you are familiar with heterodox and other non-conventional critical approaches.


  • A fully funded PhD scholarship for one year, extendable to four years after positive evaluation;
  • Funding for workshops and conferences and access to a one-week specialized summer school in the May/June 2018;
  • A dynamic research group at the forefront of financialization studies / financial geography;
  • Starting date: at earliest April 1, 2018; at latest October 1, 2018.


For more information, please e-mail both and

You can apply for this job no later than January 31, 2018 via the online application tool.

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