PhD Candidate in Sustainable Finance

Updated: 3 months ago
Job Type: Temporary
Deadline: 08 Oct 2022

How does financial economics address our societal challenges, such as those defined in the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals? Does Sustainable Finance with its environmental, social and governance (ESG) principles generate impact? i.e. does it help to protect our ecosystem (E) by addressing, for example, climate change and biodiversity loss, and allow for meaningful ways to live together (SG) by incorporating multiple stakeholders in financial decision making and governance? What are ways to address the ESG criteria in financial markets at the individual, company and regulator levels? How can ESG-friendly investments still generate substantial financial returns and compete with other forms of investments?
As a PhD candidate, you will address those questions by applying cross-disciplinary methods (such as econometrics, experimental finance, system dynamics and group model building), allowing for a unique specialisation in finance. You will improve your academic skills and your way of academic thinking to become an applied researcher with high scientific integrity.

Together with your supervisors, you will be responsible for acquiring the knowledge and skills required to become a most-wanted candidate in the job market (e.g. in the scientific community, in industry, or at regulators).

The PhD research addresses the multiverse of sustainable finance (RI, SI, SRI, ESG), particularly the interplay between financial markets and their implications for societal challenges such as the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. Next to the conventional research methods typically used in finance, however, the project entails applying specific research techniques embedded in the Integrated Decision Making (ID) hotspot’s toolbox.

The PhD research aims to illuminate the influence - and the interaction - of different market players (investors, companies, regulators and institutions) on the multi-trillion dollar market of sustainability-themed investment products. The focus is on questions such as: What is the current status of sustainable finance? How does it relate to the sustainable development goals (as a framework for societal challenges)? What forms of regulation fosters sustainability at the individual or system level? What is the tension between free global financial markets and SDGs? How can short-term investor incentives help to reach long-term sustainability development goals? What stakeholders play a role in the business of sustainability finance? Is sustainability finance just greenwashing, or has it real long-term influence? This research combines different levels in decision making: investors, i.e. those who invest; companies, i.e. those who implement (or do not implement) particular ESG guidelines or create financial products; regulators, i.e. those who design the rules, and other institutions, i.e. those who create the ratings.

The research combines the multi-methodology approach of the PhD supervisors in the light of the Integrated Decision Making ‘hotspot’. It aims to explore the topic from a finance/economics perspective (Füllbrunn), applying system dynamics (Marchau, Rouwette) by considering tools such as group model building and case studies (Marchau, Rouwette) as well as laboratory experiments and empirical research methodology related to data analysis with econometric tools (Füllbrunn). Hence, the project combines the methodological strengths of both departments (economics and business economics and business administration).

The project combines systematic literature analysis and case-study research with empirical work involving expert meetings and lab/online experiments. The PhD research starts from the following envisioned perspectives that will be worked out in more detail with the candidate.
(1) It starts with a literature review on how financial markets value short-term financial performance versus long-term sustainable development goals. This part will generate a foundation of what sustainable finance is actually about and where loose ends need tying up. (2) It will continue with researching several case studies on company decision situations with a trade-off between financial and sustainability goals, combined with expert meetings in the IMR group decision lab. Aside from academic papers and policy reports, how do experts actually decide when it comes to ESG (and beyond)? (3) Lastly, the research involves testing decision-making in an impact-investment environment in the area of sustainable finance at different levels, e.g. an abstract of the environment (4) together with proposed changes in different forms of experiments, applying experimental economics methodology or multiplayer serious games.

During your PhD you will be involved in teaching for about 120 hours a year, so you can get teaching experience and transfer your knowledge to students.

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