Dr Christian Engelke

Dr Christian Engelke achieved a doctorate for his research looking at the horticulture industry in Germany. 
Christian Engelke

Christian lives in Lower Saxony in Germany, where he has run horticultural companies, specialising in horticultural servicing, for the last 18 years.

Although he came from a more practical background, after an apprenticeship in Horticulture he went on to achieve two Master’s degrees from universities in Germany, one related to Business Management and Industrial Engineering and the other in Horticulture.

But 10 years ago, Christian decided to take the plunge back into academia. “I was looking for a new perspective beside my self-employment,” he said. “I wished to do academic work, which was always latently available.” He originally started studying in Germany, but found the system not as well suited to his needs as a mature student. 

So he turned his attention to universities in England instead and ended up at the University of Worcester. 

“I felt positive right from the start, not least because the structure, and the taught modules enabled me to start with my new thesis thoroughly. I have learnt at long last how to start doctoral work, and I enjoyed it from the beginning. The philosophical approaches in particular were fascinating and helpful throughout the whole journey of my doctoral work.” 

In his thesis, Service Differentiation and Dimensions of Strategic Orientations in German Retail Horticulture, Christian examined German retail horticulture, where a great number of companies are currently transitioning from retailers to service providers. He looked in particular at six strategies regarding service variety, drawing on a sample of 222 German retail horticulture companies. After three and a half years, Christian achieved his doctorate. 

Christian said he had found it challenging combining the academic demands of a degree and earning his living. “Even though there were hard times, along with demotivation, the perspective of doing something totally different with my job was giving me enormous energy and the strength to achieve the degree in the end,” he added.

“I was happy with the doctoral work at the University of Worcester right from the beginning, and I have said to myself that I should have started earlier with it. This is not least because of the very good supervision work, which I really appreciated!”

Having finished his degree, Christian is launching new service departments. “My new knowledge helps me in certain ways in my job from a practical view, such as the ability to analyse things or tasks better. Also, I benefit from this new knowledge in my daily work, which improves my company and future prospects accordingly.”

He wants to continue with academic work in future and has applied for an honorary fellowship as a senior researcher at the University of Worcester, to run alongside his job. 

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