I have been offered a Marie Curie Fellowship as a PhD researcher. That means I would be employed by the business school to carry out 3 years of a PhD project approved by European Commission. I would simultaneously have the status of a PhD student and a business school employee.

However, the business school is perhaps ranked around 9 to 10 in that country. A serious concern is if other (better ranked) schools in that country and in rest of Europe will look down upon my PhD just because it is not from the list of elite schools in Europe. This particular school is not ranked by 2 of the well known rankings, though it punches way higher than its size and overall reputation research-wise in a third ranking, which is often considered the most trusted by students embarking on PhD at a business school.

I know what the project is and who my supervisor will be. He is an active researcher, though I don't know to what extent he would go on to support me during and after PhD.

The alternative is a regular PhD program, with a full scholarship at a pretty strong brand name within Europe (another country). However, its research ranking is not very good, but the overall impression of that school Europe-wide is impressive. The school overall features in top 30 worldwide in one of the rankings, but for research in my area of studies, it ranks between 100-150 by 2 rankings and about 200-250 by the third. This school is ranked 3rd-4th in its country and is known internationally for its MBAs et cetera, so at least recruiters would know the school. I don't know what project I would eventually finalize and the supervisor I would get, but as they say, the chances of things going wrong are lower at a good school.

My goal: I am looking at a career in academia afterwards. Some professors I spoke with have hinted that it is often the name of the graduating school that gets you noticed. Could the mention of Marie Curie fellowship compensate for any weaknesses of the specific school I attend? If so, how do I overcome the reputation and get noticed when the recruiters are said to be interested in shortlisting based on the recognition / popularity of schools?

EDIT: The Marie Curie Fellowship is at a business school that has only very recently (last 3-5 years) published in the highest rated journals but the brand image has still not improved in view of the professors I spoke with. I told them about the high impact research it has in recent years produced but according to them, it goes in the following order (for fresh PhDs in business) where your CV may be dropped after considering each of the following: 1- School where candidate did his PhD, 2- Publication record, 3- References, 4- Supervisor, his record, placement and publication record of his other PhD students. Any business management professors / anyone related to academia in business management, please give your input.

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    "recruiters are said to be interested in shortlisting based on the recognition / popularity of schools?" No, people hiring you for a postdoc will be far more interested in the work you did during the PhD than the logo on the mug you drank out of while doing it. – astronat May 10 '18 at 22:00
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    @user92608 I edited your question in the hopes it might be slightly clearer. Academia SE generally doesn't answer "What should I do?" questions, but questions that are abstracted from your own situation, like "How do European business school hiring committees usually balance X vs. Y?" are more on-topic. Please feel free to edit your question further, as you would like. – cactus_pardner May 10 '18 at 23:13
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    @cactus_pardner That is very kind of you. Thank you! – user92608 May 11 '18 at 8:22
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    @user92608 ONLY reaserch output and paper published, are important – SSimon May 12 '18 at 7:37
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    @user92608 Your prior comment is a new question in itself! I believe that good publications trump all (if ethics are in order), but the possibility of getting good publications is lower at a much worse department. – cactus_pardner May 13 '18 at 2:12

Having a Marie Curie scholarship is quite an achievement, congratulations! I know of schools who will take you right away if you have a Marie Curie stipend, no matter if you already know someone at that school. In Germany, rankings are often disregarded, as they tend to be highly biased. Go for what is more interesting for you, and that sounds like the ITN!

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Whatever the answer is, you may want to especially pay attention to answers specific to business schools. (The professors mentioned at the end of the question do teach at business schools, I see.) (I have taken a U.S. B-school class and had friends in the PhD program there, and I have worked (inside and outside academia) with people with PhDs from B-schools, but I am not an "insider" by any means.) My guess would be that academics at a B-school may be less dismissive of a dual-purpose program like Marie Curie, especially if you point out it will help you teach MBAs who are almost all industry-bound. However, MBAs that are connected to professors with name-brand pedigrees might be easier to "sell," meaning that the school name would help you get hired. (Perhaps see how schools characterize their faculty in materials for marketing their MBA program.)

A lot of it comes down to: do you like the PhD project you would be doing? Starting off with a sponsored project under the EC aegis could be a huge advantage, if you can envision an interesting project developing there. (If it would just be a glorified annual report, with significant constraints on what you can examine, then that may not be as impressive.) Instead of being "that candidate from the research university not ranked by list a or list b," you would be, "the candidate who works with the EC job-training data," say.

Also, maybe it works differently in business or this is lost in translation, but the academic job market doesn't involve "recruiters," as far as I have heard. You'll apply to many places, and the people making decisions are faculty members. They would probably care about the schools' research rankings and the quality of your research, among other interests. (The more research you would be expected to do, the more your research pedigree matters; the more you're hired to teach, the more your ability to offer the MBAs an elite experience matters.)

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    The professors I asked for opinion are in different business schools (not affiliated to any of the 2 business schools concerned), in different countries, and educated and third countries. 2 of them suggested choosing the regular PhD program at the reputed business school for the fact that the interview call received for the first job will more than likely be a reflection of where I did my PhD from (considering I am similarly productive, publications wise, at both regular PhD at top school / Marie Curie PhD at average school). Nice suggestions though :) – user92608 May 10 '18 at 23:18
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    Indeed, in academic job markets it is the faculty members, usually lead by the head of a specific department and a team of members, all dedicated academics who assess if a particular would be a good choice. 2 such head of departments in respectable universities of Europe said that: 1- Prestige of institution counts, e.g, if a graduate comes from an average school, the CV is likely to NOT be shortlisted. If however, it is a renowned school, the professors who hire will go to the next step, aka, assessing how promising I would be based on publications record and research impact – user92608 May 11 '18 at 8:30
  • I disagree with this answer, bcs being a student and phd candidate of business school, are two completely different realities – SSimon May 12 '18 at 7:38
  • But the end result is same = PhD after 3 or 4 years and then you get back to the job market and try to sell yourself to the best possible school for a better future. What do you think given the situation in question and the choice? – user92608 May 12 '18 at 11:51
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    @ cactus_pardner Indeed, both opportunities are as a PhD candidate, the difference being that the Marie Curie Fellowship will simultaneously be a temporary employment contract of 3 years (length of PhD). Also, it pays very well (three and a half times better than the other option) but let's not consider that because in the long run, it is better research training, better supervision, better networking opportunities with competitive peers, and the resultant research publications that will help me find my first job. – user92608 May 13 '18 at 0:13

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