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Students and faculty in the Sustainability subgroup recognize that the role of business is to create and distribute wealth equitably, both within and across generations. They subscribe to the principles of sustainable development, which is development that ‘meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs’. A core assumption of researchers in this group is that the broader social and environmental contexts matter to business and that sustainability is core to effective management of risks and opportunities in today’s world. Researchers in this group are also interested in research with the potential to address broad global challenges and to make the world a better place.

The Sustainability group therefore looks to push the boundaries of current theories and methods. We are excited by new ideas and new approaches, as current theories have not adequately addressed some of the significant macro challenges confronting us. We are also excited by research that has practical implications and engages with real-world problems and phenomena.

The faculty members comprising this group include Diane-Laure Arjaliès, Pratima (Tima) Bansal, Oana Branzei, Jury Gualandris, Patricia Hein, Rob Klassen, Sergio Lazzarini, Deishin Lee, and Wren Montgomery. They have published cutting-edge sustainability research in top journals across disciplines, including Academy of Management Journal, Academy of Management Review, Journal of Business Venturing, Journal of Operations Management, Management Accounting Research, Management Science, Organization Science, and Strategic Management Journal. PhD students in the Sustainability area have also received several awards including the Governor General's Gold Medal (Mark DesJardine, Natalie Slawinski), conference best paper prizes, and have placed at top schools (Tuck School of Business, McGill, etc.).

Ivey's sustainability community is large and active, providing a thriving environment for our Sustainability PhD students. Approximately one third of faculty members across Ivey engage in sustainability research, reflecting its true cross-disciplinary nature (e.g. Janice Byrne, Nadine de Gannes, Alison Konrad, Kirk Kristofferson, Nouri Najjar and Brandon Schaufele, among others). As well, Ivey’s Sustainability group attracts a large number of high-quality doctoral students, post-doctoral students, and international faculty and student visitors. This rich support at Ivey across disciplines and methodological perspectives means the sustainability community at Ivey is vibrant, active and highly generative. Importantly, this structure also offers students the unique opportunity to explore sustainability questions and challenges that cross traditional academic boundaries and ways of seeing the world.

Ivey has gained an international reputation for its sustainability activities. We host the Sustainability PhD Academy that brings together 15 students and 5 faculty from around the world annually in this highly competitive program. Ivey’s annual Sustainability Conference also brings top global sustainability thinkers to Ivey for 2 days of deep conversation with Ivey PhD students and faculty, and aims to build a local community of sustainability scholars that crosses university boundaries. Sustainability doctoral students are also able to access conference and research funding through Ivey’s well recognized Centre for Building Sustainable Value. In addition, the Network for Business Sustainability (NBS) was founded at Ivey. NBS aims to bridge research and practice in order to advance business sustainability. Over 35,000 managers and researchers follow NBS. Finally, Innovation North is located at Ivey, which is taking companies on a journey towards sustainable innovation.

*Please note that Sustainability is a stream under General Management

Areas of Research Focus

  • Short-termism, globalization, and scale
  • Systems thinking/theory
  • Social and environmental entrepreneurship
  • Collective and cross-sectoral action for sustainability
  • Sustainable and conservation finance
  • Impact assessment and integrated reporting
  • Circular economy
  • Sustainable food supply chains
  • Co-evolutionary embedded systems (circular products, business models and supply chains)
  • Stakeholder analysis and stakeholder governance
  • Inequality and marginalization in organizations

PhD Student Opportunities

The Sustainability group at Ivey is always happy to hear from superb applicants who are passionate about researching environmental and social sustainability issues. We have one of the largest, most proficient, and most exciting groups of faculty studying business and sustainability in the world. We are always looking to push new boundaries to find solutions to grand challenges, and we are looking for students who are motivated to do that hard but rewarding, timely, and vital work with us!

If that is you, and you are interested in working with one of our faculty members, please begin by familiarizing yourself with their specific research interests, papers, and methods. Then, please reach out to them with a detailed email on why you think you might be a fit with their research program and expertise. You will need a faculty mentor to support your application in order to have the best chance for a successful admission. While not all faculty members have a specific opening posted many will be able to find a spot for an exceptional candidate, so be very prepared and specific when you connect with them to show them you are a candidate worth considering. Please feel free to connect with more than one faculty member, but be sure to tailor your communications rather than sending a general email that is not likely to stand out or receive a positive response.

Note that many of our members are also cross-appointed in other faculty groups, so please check  the various PhD discipline pages for recruiting opportunities that align with your research interests. It may be possible for you to find a fit and apply through one or both disciplines (Business Economics & Public Policy, Entrepreneurship, Operations Management, Strategy etc.). This will still allow you to engage closely with our Sustainability faculty, students, reading group, and programming.

Please feel free to contact Dr. Sergio Lazzarini with any questions once you have read both this page and the general Ivey admissions and FAQ pages which cover deadlines, admissions packages, standardized testing, etc.

Thank you for your interest in Sustainability at Ivey, we look forward to hearing from you, and we wish you the best of luck in your academic adventures!

Professor Diane-Laure Arjalies is interested in supervising students willing to push the boundaries of knowledge and practice by doing qualitative and field-based work. Topics include sustainable finance (e.g., impact bonds, conservation finance), non-financial practices and reporting (e.g., impact assessment, accountability in safe and ethical spaces) and issues linked to life on land (e.g., biodiversity, regenerative farming). Interdisciplinary (e.g., political ecology, accounting), Indigenous and decolonizing approaches are welcome.

Professor Bissan Ghaddar's interests lie at the intersection of mathematical optimization and machine learning models and their application to practical problems related to sustainable and smart cities, particularly in the domains of energy, telecom, and transportation systems. In order for smart cities to become a reality, complex optimization problems in the modeling, design, and operation of these future telecom, energy, and transportation systems need to be solved. The developed models can potentially lead to improved policies that will maximize the environmental, social, and financial benefits of these critical sectors.

Professors Diane-Laure Arjaliès, Jury Gualandris and Sergio Lazzarini are interested in students to examine how multiple actors address collective action issues and promote systemic transformation in complex systems. There is a current project on how farmers and actors of the food chain interact with each other and develop communities of practices to define rules of interaction, agree on common principles, and promote sustainable change. This research involves a combination of qualitative and quantitative methods, including field experiments.

Post-graduate Opportunities

The doctoral program in Sustainability is designed for those interested in pursuing academic careers in sustainability at top business schools.

PhD Graduates

Dr. Mark DesJardine (2016 PhD)

Assistant Professor, Pennsylvania State University

Dr. Mark DesJardine
PhD Dissertation:

The Causes and Consequences of Corporate Short-termism

Corporate short-termism is one of the most significant concerns facing companies and society today. It demands that companies maximize profits in the short term regardless of the long-term consequences. Corporate short-termism can destroy long-run wealth generation, fuel job lay-offs, impede innovation, and neglect society’s social and environmental interests. Paul Polman, CEO of Unilever, declares that short-termism, “lies at the heart of many of today’s problems.”... Read more about this thesis

Dr. Natalie Slawinski (2010 PhD)

Associate Professor, Memorial University

Dr. Natalie Slawinski
PhD Dissertation:

Short on Time: The Role of Organizational Time Orientation in Business

Our research explores the role of time in explaining firm responses to social and environmental issues. We draw on time perspective and other related individual level constructs from the psychology literature, along with research on time from the organizational and sociology literatures, to develop time orientation as a multi-dimensional firm-level construct.... Read more about this thesis

Discipline Coordinator

Sergio Lazzarini

Sergio G. Lazzarini (PhD, 2002, Washington University in St. Louis) is a Professor at Ivey Business School, Western University, and Chafi Haddad Senior Research Fellow at Insper (Brazil). He does research on how public and private actors interact and organize their activities to improve economic and social performance. He is a former Professor at Insper and founder of Insper Metricis, a center for the study of impact measurement and investing. Sergio has held visiting positions at Harvard University (2010, 2012), University of St Gallen (2009), HEC Paris (2014), Insead (2015), Brandeis (2016), Imperial College (2017), the University of Utah (2019), and the University of Toronto (2021-22).

He has published a trilogy of books on public-private interactions: Capitalismo de Laços (Elsevier, 2011; revised edition by Bei Editora, 2018), Reinventing State Capitalism: Leviathan in Business, Brazil and Beyond (Harvard University Press, 2014, with Aldo Musacchio), and The Right Privatization: Why Private Firms in Public Initiatives Need Capable Governments (Cambridge University Press, 2022). His research has also appeared in several journals such as Strategic Management Journal, Academy of Management Journal, Organization Science, Academy of Management Review, Academy of Management Perspectives, Journal of Management Studies, and Strategic Entrepreneurship Journal, among others. His work has received several prizes including the Glueck Best Paper Award of the Strategic Management Division of the Academy of Management (2003), Best Paper Prize of the Iberoamerican Academy of Management Conference (2003), Best Paper Prize of the Strategy Division of the Brazilian Academy of Management (ANPAD, 2005), Best Presentation Prize of the Strategic Management Society Special Conference in Rio (2011), Distinguished Paper Award of the Strategy Division (Cooperative Strategy Track) of the Academy of Management (2020) and the Jabuti Prize for the book Capitalism of Ties (2010). Sergio has been a consultant to several firms and multilateral organizations such as OECD, IDB, and the World Bank, and his research was cited or interviewed by news sources such as The Economist, New York Times, Financial Times, Forbes, BBC, and Bloomberg.

He also served as a member of the Executive Committee of the Strategy Division of the Academy of Management (2008-2010) and as a board member of the International Society for the New Institutional Economics (2009-2011), and is currently the Associate Editor of the Academy of Management Review.

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