PhD position in financing the strategic transformation of incumbent business models (0.8 - 1.0 FTE)

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PhD position in financing the strategic transformation of incumbent business models (0.8 - 1.0 FTE)

Job description
Are you interested in understanding how firms can transform existing business models to greater sustainability? And which role financial institutions play in this process? 
Sustainability transitions require incumbent firms in many sectors to fundamentally transform their business models. While ample research addresses novel, sustainable business models for firms, we do not yet understand how incumbent firms deal with the complex dynamics of phase-out decisions while at the same time pushing organizational renewal and innovation. In addition, it remains unclear how financial institutions can adequately support these firms in the strategic transformation of their business models. 
At the Copernicus Institute of Sustainable Development and the Utrecht School of Economics (U.S.E.), we have an exciting full-time four-year PhD project available. This PhD project addresses the question "How can incumbents phase in novel "green" business models while simultaneously phasing out existing "brown" ones, and how can financial institutions adequately support this transformation?" This is a highly relevant question for better understanding the sustainable transformation of sectors such as energy and agriculture. 
The project aims to map the broad financing patterns of incumbent transformation through a series of in-depth case studies that study the interaction between incumbent firms (SME, MNEs) and financiers (banks, investors, pension funds). The position will be based at Utrecht University, The Netherlands and includes fieldwork in the Netherlands and potentially other European countries. In combination with the in-depth theoretical and empirical work, the PhD candidate is encouraged to engage with societal actors through transdisciplinary inquiry, for instance by participating in professional education and engaging also with non-academic stakeholders. Besides the aspiration to understand the dynamics of financing transition processes, there is also a mission to contribute to strategic transformations towards more sustainability.
The PhD candidate will be part of a cross-faculty collaboration between the Innovation Studies group at the Copernicus Institute of Sustainable Development (Faculty of Geosciences), the Entrepreneurship section at the Utrecht School of Economics and the Sustainable Finance Lab. The research will contribute to Utrecht University's strategic research theme "Institutions for Open Societies" .  It will be supervised by Dr. Christina Bidmon (GEO), Dr. Friedemann Polzin (U.S.E./SFL),  Dr. Helen Toxopeus (U.S.E./SFL), and Professor Flor Avelino (Chair for Organizations and Sustainability, GEO).

For this project we are looking for an enthusiastic and outgoing graduate in business economics, innovation sciences, transition studies, sustainable development, or another relevant discipline. Preferably you have relevant working experience in business or financial organizations. 
You have skills in quantitative and qualitative research methods, and you can write clearly for a professional/scientific, as well as for a wider audience.
During the PhD, you have access to courses and trainings to further develop your methodological skills. Willingness to engage in transdisciplinary dialogue and good social and communication skills are essential; having a network of relevant actors is an advantage. Due to the interaction with firms and financial actors in the Netherlands for this research project, command of the Dutch language is considered an advantage (Dutch language courses are available at UU for PhD students).

You will be offered a temporary position (0.8 - 1.0 FTE), initially for one year with an extension to a total of four years upon a successful assessment in the first year, and with the specific intent that it results in a doctorate within this period. The gross salary ranges between €2,541 in the first year and €3,247 in the fourth year of employment (scale P according to the Collective Labour Agreement Dutch Universities) per month for a full-time employment. Salaries are supplemented with a holiday bonus of 8% and a year-end bonus of 8.3% per year.
In addition, Utrecht University offers excellent secondary conditions , including an attractive retirement scheme, (partly paid) parental leave and flexible employment conditions (multiple choice model). For more information, please visit working at Utrecht University .

About the organization
A better future for everyone. This ambition motivates our scientists in executing their leading research and inspiring teaching. At Utrecht University , the various disciplines collaborate intensively towards major strategic themes . Our focus is on Dynamics of Youth, Institutions for Open Societies, Life Sciences and Sustainability.
Utrecht University's Faculty of Geosciences studies the Earth: from the Earth's core to its surface, including man's spatial and material utilisation of the Earth - always with a focus on sustainability and innovation. With 3,400 students (BSc and MSc) and 720 staff, the faculty, that is located at Utrecht Science Park in the Vening Meinesz building A near the historical centre of Utrecht,  is a strong and challenging organisation. The Faculty of Geosciences is organised in four Departments: Earth Sciences, Human Geography & Spatial Planning, Physical Geography, and Sustainable Development.
The Copernicus Institute investigates processes and opportunities for innovative change towards sustainability. This transformation is a multidisciplinary process requiring a variety of disciplines. The Copernicus Institute offers a unique multidisciplinary environment in this complex field. The institute is embedded in the Faculty of Geosciences at Utrecht University and consists of five research groups (sections): Innovation Studies, Environmental Governance, Environmental Sciences, Energy and Resources, and the Utrecht Futures Studio.
Utrecht University School of Economics (U.S.E). is part of the Law, Economics, and Governance Faculty of Utrecht University. U.S.E. aims to contribute to an economy where people flourish, by taking a broad view on welfare and its causes. We aspire to be an internationally renowned school of economics, with scientifically rigorous and societally relevant research and education. We enrich economics with other disciplines to better solve problems and identify opportunities, from a business and government point of view. Well-being, cooperation, innovation and curiosity are our core values. U.S.E. maintains an excellent international network of academic relationships and is continuously working on extending this network. Around 100 staff teach its fully English curricula to 350 Master and 550 Bachelor students per year. U.S.E. also house the Sustainable Finance Lab (SFL), one of the leading European thinktanks that analyses the role of the financial sector in the transition towards a more sustainable economy and engages actively with the sector and policy makers to translate theory to practice.

Additional information
For more information about this position, please contact Doctor Christina Bidmon (Assistant Professor) via  or Doctor Friedemann Polzin (Associate Professor) via .

Everyone deserves to feel at home at our university. We welcome employees with a wide variety of backgrounds and perspectives.
To apply, please send your curriculum vitae including the names of 2 references, a transcript of records from prior studies, and a letter of motivation via the "apply" button. 
Interviews are planned to take place on Monday March 27th. Should you be selected for an interview, you will be asked to share with us a short writing sample (e.g. thesis, research paper) as part of the selection procedure.
The preferred starting date for this position is June 1, 2023.

The application deadline is
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