Msc thesis opportunities with GCFSI@WUR

The Global Center for Food Systems Innovation at WUR is pleased to announce the following MSc theses opportunities for interested students for the period starting possibly in the summer of 2014 or later.

MSC thesis opportunity 1

Research Title: The Role of Multi-National Companies in African Agricultural and Food Development: How do Firms Attempt to Legitimize Their Business and Why?

Project Description: As part of the Global Center for Food Systems Innovation program funded by US Agency for International Development (USAID), MST Group at Wageningen University has created a preliminary database of Western (EU/USA), Eastern (China, India, etc.) and local agri-food companies investing in Africa. In a preliminary analysis that we presented for a recent Business & Society journal special issue and the International Food and Agribusiness Management (IFAMA) conference in Capetown, we found that Western, Eastern and local companies undertake very different strategies to legitimize their practices in Africa. We found that legitimization strategies are influenced by the core business strategy but also by the local perception of their country of origin. Now we want to advance these exploratory results through a systematic study of the companies’ legitimization strategies and by linking legitimization strategies to the way that companies develop partnerships with external stakeholders.

Tasks: The student will:

1) study the existing literature on Corporate Social Responsibility and legitimization strategies; trends of investment in African agricultural and food sector; relationships between core strategy, coordination forms and corporate social responsibility;

2) collect and analyze secondary data from companies’ public sources and primary data from interviews with company managers and key informants.

Requirements: The student is:

1) an ambitious MSc student with a strong motivation to conduct action-oriented research and to explore applications of business management theory in development contexts;

2) has a strong MSc level background in one or more of the following disciplines: strategic management; marketing & supply chains; international development; food technology students that took courses in the School of Social Sciences may be suitable.

Interested students please contact Dr. Domenico Dentoni at Domenico.dentoni@wur.nl with short cover letter and an official transcript. Supervision team will also include Dr. Verena Bitzer, scholar at Capetown Graduate School of Business and an expert in partnerships and social innovation, and possibly a second Wageningen University staff.

MSC thesis opportunity 2

Research Title: Organizational Structures for the Emerging “Sharing Economy” and “Collaborative Consumption” in the Agricultural and Food Sector.

Project Description: In collaboration with the University of Naples (Italy), the Management Studies Group (MST) at Wageningen University has collected and analyzed data on emerging organizational forms in the agricultural and food sector that shorten the supply chain and reconnect farmers and consumers through alternative food networks. Examples are Community Supported Agriculture, Solidarity Purchase Groups and Community Gardens among many. Our recently published results illustrate that the members of these new organizational forms are moved by heterogeneous values but they have similar food lifestyles, as they seek healthy, authentic, social, safe and sustainable ways to purchase and dispose of food. Yet, we still know very little on how these organizations operate and what the social and institutional constraints that they face are. This project intends to discuss how these organizational forms apply the principles of sharing economy and collaborative consumption through internal formal and informal rules and how institutions outside the organizations influence them.

Tasks: The student will:

1) study the existing literature on sharing economy and collaborative consumption; alternative food networks and short supply chains; new venture creation and organizational change;

2) identify and analyze a suitable number of cases to analyze through interviews and questionnaires to members and /or coordinators of the studied organizations; the data collection and analysis could be inductive and qualitative OR deductive and quantitative (or mixed) depending on the background and preferences of the student.

Requirements: The student is:

1) an ambitious MSc student with a strong motivation to conduct action-oriented research and to explore applications of organization theory for sustainable consumption, lifestyle and development; 2) has a strong MSc level background in one or more of the following disciplines: organizational change and innovation; entrepreneurship and new venture creation; food technology students that took courses in the School of Social Sciences may be suitable.

Interested students please contact Dr. Domenico Dentoni at Domenico.dentoni@wur.nl with short cover letter and an official transcript. Supervision team will also include Dr. Stefano Pascucci (MST Group).

MSC thesis opportunity 3

Research Title: Human Resources and Organizational Capabilities for Sensing, Interacting, Learning and Changing (SILC) with Stakeholders for Sustainable Development: What is the Relationship?

Project Description: In collaboration with Education and Competencies Studies (ECS) group, MST Group at Wageningen University has collected and analyzed data on how large agri-food companies such as Unilever, Friesland Campina, Sara Lee and Heinz (and in particular their public relations, CSR, marketing and supply chain managers) engage with stakeholders – NGOs, universities, governments, media and civil society at large. In recently published articles from this project, we found that these companies need their managers to have very specific competencies (in particular: embracing diversity and interdisciplinarity) and that their organizations need to have the capability of sensing, interacting, learning and changing (SILC) with stakeholders. Now the open question that we want to tackle collaboratively with this MSc thesis is: what are the specific competencies that are needed to develop specific “SILC capabilities” in these companies?

Tasks: The student will:

1) study the existing literature on competencies for sustainable development; organization capabilities for stakeholder engagement; Corporate Social Responsibility;

2) collect secondary data through corporate reports of the four companies and primary data through semi-structured interviews with managers;

3) analyze data through content analysis of the interviews and reports with the support of the software Atlas.

Requirements: The student is:

1) an ambitious MSc student with a strong motivation to conduct action-oriented research and to explore applications of business management for corporate social responsibility and multi-stakeholder engagements;

2) has a strong MSc level background in one or more of the following disciplines: strategic change management and innovation; organization and human resource management, new venture creation and entrepreneurship; marketing and supply chains.

Interested students please contact Dr. Domenico Dentoni at Domenico.dentoni@wur.nl with short cover letter and an official transcript. Supervision team will also possibly include Dr. Vincent Blok

About GCFSI

This is the official account of Global Center for Food Systems Innovation at Wageningen University. The Students' Blog, www.gcfsiwur.wordpress.com, is attached to this account.

Posted on April 14, 2015, in Thesis opportunities. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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