Accepting PhD Students

PhD projects

Business History
Marketing and Branding History
Public Relations and Corporate Communication
Internal Communication
Social Media Branding and Brand Communities

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Personal profile

Research interests

Professor Michael Heller is a business, management and organizational historian whose research focuses on the history of work, business communication, the emergence of the large-scale organisation and management in the long nineteenth and twentieth centuries. He is a multi-disciplinary scholar whose work combines history, marketing, organization studies, human relations and corporate communication. He is particularly interested in how organisations have garnered social and political legitimacy through the pioneering of business practices and social institutions such as public relations, corporate communication, branding, corporate social responsibility, personnel management, and professional and managerial associations and education. His work combines empirical historical research and theory and has investigated and theorised on methodology and historiography within historical organizational studies. He has also researched the uses of history and the past by organisations in the present and has an interest in corporate heritage branding and marketing, rhetorical history and the uses of the past by business and organisations.

Michael's main areas of research are in the history of office work, the history of public relations and corporate branding, the history of internal communication, the history of CSR and industrial welfare, and corporate heritage branding. He currently holds a £630,000 grant from the ESRC to research 'An Institutional History of Internal Communication in the UK.' This involves project partners from major global companies and professional associations: Unilever, Boots, John Lewis, the Postal Museum, AB Communications, Simply-Communicate, the Charted Institute of Personnel and Development, the Chartered Institute of Public Relations, the Institute of Internal Communication and The British Library. He has published in a number of leading journals including Organization Studies, British Journal of Management, Business History, European Journal of Marketing, Enterprise and Society and Journal of Macromarketing. He is an assessor for the British Academy/Leverhulme Small Research Grants and editor of the Palgrave Macmillan international book series, Debates in Business History. He is a regular contributor at the Academy of Management. 


Professor Heller gained his degrees at the University of Cambridge and University College London where he took his PhD. Before coming to Northumbria, Michael worked at Brunel Business School, Brunel University for ten years where he was a Reader in Marketing and Division Lead (Departmental Head) in Marketing. Before this, Michael worked at the University of East London, Royal Holloway, University of London, Queen Mary, University of London and the University of Westminster. He has also held visiting lecturer roles in marketing at the University of Shanghai and the University of the Mediterranean in Aix-en-Provence. Michael's main areas of teaching are in branding, marketing communication, international marketing, and marketing research methods. Michael has advised and consulted a number of companies on branding and communication, and regularly contributes to the media.

Further Information

Professor Heller offers PhD supervision and welcomes interest from candidates in the following areas:

- Business History

- Marketing and Brand History

- Corporate Communication and Public Relations

- Internal Communication

- Social Media Branding and Online Communities

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 12 - Responsible Consumption and Production

Education/Academic qualification

History, MA, University College London

History, PhD, University College London

History, BA (Hons), University of Cambridge


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