Dissertation projects

In this section, you find information about current and accomplished dissertation projects.

Current dissertation projects

Sustainability strategy: unde venis et quo vadis?

In times of ongoing climate change debates and related sustainability issues, companies of every size and in every sector are incorporating sustainability aspects into their management operations. However, this implementation is not necessarily strategically aligned with the overall business strategy of each firm. While some firms might focus on functional sustainability strategy, others may incorporate a special sustainability aspect as a core competence in the entire organization. And still, others might even take a less strategic approach. These different approaches vary across sectors and industries, but also across the size of firms. Therefore, this dissertation project intends to analyze the different definitions of and approaches to sustainability strategies in various industries. Thereby, a special emphasis will be on the size of firms since small or medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) often lack the resources which large enterprises can draw from.

To analyze this development, this dissertation project combines and complements the three overarching research fields of general strategy, management of SMEs and sustainability management.

PhD student: Jennifer Adolph


Green cooperations: Business opportunities, branding success and impact communication of NGO-firm-cooperations

Climate change and modern stakeholder interests are increasingly posing new sustainability challenges for companies. Companies can acquire knowledge and develop skills to meet the challenges themselves, or they can look for the expertise they need externally. As a result, partnerships between companies and non-profit organizations (NPOs) that are familiar with environmental issues and sustainability are becoming more common. My dissertation project deals with the specifics and opportunities of such NPO-firm-cooperations. In particular, I will investigate how such cooperations can achieve competitive advantages through their internal, external and inter-organizational communication. I will use quantitative, qualitative and theory-based methods to answer both questions from research and practice.
PhD student: Laura Therese Heinl


Effect of Work onto Social Entrepreneurs – with a focus on the meaning of stress situations

Social entrepreneurs in Germany are systematically interviewed by means of individual interview research (Reflexive Grounded Theory) to find out what special challenges they experience in their professional world and which aspects in particular influence their work design and the impact of work. Among other things, valid statements about different conditions for successful social entrepreneurship will be worked out. Furthermore, the question will be investigated, to what extent specifics for failure can be identified.
PhD student: Rüdiger Hein


Integration von Nachhaltigkeit in Unternehmensentscheidungen

Unterschiede zwischen Denkmustern von Entscheidungsträgern und Nachhaltigkeitsspezialisten hinsichtlich des Beitrags von Nachhaltigkeitsinitiativen auf den Unternehmenswert sind eine möglich Erklärung für unterschiedliche Implementierungsgrade von Unternehmen. Aufbauend auf einer literaturbasierten Analyse der Wirkung von Denkmustern auf Entscheidungsprozesse werden in dem Forschungsprojekt Methoden und Strategien zur internen Kommunikation von Nachhaltigkeitsprojekten in deutschsprachigen multinationalen Unternehmen analysiert. In einem Expiriment in einem ausgewähltem Unternehmen werden aufbauend auf die Ergebnisse der Literatur- und der qualitativen Analyse Interventionen entwickelt, angewandt und in Hinsicht auf ihre Wirkung auf die Denkmuster von Managern analysiert.
PhD student: Jasper Meyer


Finished dissertation projects

Strategic role of sustainable sourcing and supply chain management

The research project “Sustainable Supply Chain Management – Corporate strategies and capabilities” investigates the integration of sustainability in supply management strategies and processes. The first part of this project sheds light on the management practices implemented by different corporations in integrating sustainability into supply management processes. This includes the question whether composition of certain management practices form a strategy and how this is influenced by context factors such as region or industry. In a second question this research endeavor identifies what resources and capabilities companies need to implement sustainability practices and strategies. In this respect, it is important to discuss how supply chain management operates as a boundary-spanning approach and how this changes through sustainability.

Akhavan, R., & Beckmann, M. (2015). Corporate Management Practices to Integerate Sustainability into Sourcing: A Taxonomy of Firms. Academy of Management Proceedings.

Akhavan, R. & Beckmann, M. (2016): A Configuration of Sustainable Sourcing and Supply Management Strategies, angenommen in: Journal of Purchasing and Supply Management, Doi: 10.1016/j.pursup.2016.07.006

PhD student: Roya Akhavan

Nachhaltiges Unternehmertum im ländlichen Raum

Demografischer Wandel, Wandel der Arbeitswelt und Urbanisierung sind Megatrends, welche insbesondere auch auf Akateure im ländlichen Raum einwirken. Dabei hängt die Zukunft des ländlichen Raums entscheidend davon ab, wie die Akteure selbst bereit sind, sich aktiv einzubringen um mit nachhaltigen Strategien dem Wandel sinnvoll zu gestalten. Insbesondere das Unternehmertum im ländlichen, strukturschwachen Raum ist vielfältigen strategischen Herausforderungen ausgesetzt. Mit dem Dissertationsprojekt soll betrachtet werden, wie eine nachhaltige Zukunftssicherung des Unternehmertums im ländlichem Raum aussehen kann und welche Innovationskonzepte sich daraus ergeben können.
PhD student: Michael Garkisch

Sustainability standards and labels as a governance tool for sustainable development along global value chains

Complex global value chains, weak institutions and divergent interests of involved and affected stakeholders, represent great challenges for implementing effective and legitimate (self-) regulatory governance frameworks for corporate actors along the value chain. Multi-stakeholder initiatives (MSIs) as a voluntary collective action approach of different stakeholders, can function as a suitable governance instrument for these challenges. By delivering sustainability standards and labels, MSIs provide specific management tools for companies. The PhD thesis investigates the role, development and composition of different MSIs at the intersection of corporate actors, civil society and governmental agents, as well as the impacts of standards and labels as management tools. In this regard, the thesis has a particular focus on the field of “sustainable mining practices”, seemingly an inherent contradiction of sourcing extractive resources and the sustainable development approach.
PhD student: Jens Heidingsfelder

Sustainability-oriented Innovation: The Role of Technologies and Participation

Innovations can contribute to sustainable development. However, the development of innovations in the context of sustainability requires broad knowledge of environmental and social aspects, which is scattered over many actors. The project, therefore, examines crowdsourcing (especially open innovation) and crowdfunding as participatory instruments to support the development of sustainability-oriented innovations (SOI). Two empirical articles deal with data mining for the front-end of SOIs and crowdfunding for SOI. Furthermore, a conceptual article deals with crowdsourcing approaches for SOI.
PhD student: Peter Wehnert

Scaling Strategies of Soical Entrepreneurship Organizations: An Actor-Motivation Perspective

Social Entrepreneurship (Sozialunternehmertum) versucht innovativ, gesellschaftliche Probleme zu lösen. Hier stellt sich die Frage, wie diese Lösungen bestmöglich gestreut werden können, um so gesellschaftlichen Wandel voranzubringen.

Beckmann, M., & Zeyen, A. (2014): Franchising as a Strategy for Combining Small and Large Group Advantages (Logics) in Social Entrepreneurship: A Hayekian Perspective, Nonprofit & Voluntary Sector Quarterly, 43(3), S. 502-522  (Online First)
Phd: Anica Zeyen

Addition information