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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, Rob Klassen, 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 (McGill, Penn State 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 7500 managers and researchers subscribe to NBS’s newsletter.

*Please note that Sustainability is a stream under General Management

Areas of Research Focus

  • Time, space, 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)

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. Wren Montgomery 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. 

Professor Wren Montgomery is interested in recruiting a PhD Student with interests at the intersection of social justice and environmental sustainability.  This position is open to various theoretical and methodological approaches and contexts. Training in one or more of inequality, justice, environmental justice, human rights, and activism/social movements will be an asset. Interest in conflicts between corporations, government, and land and water defenders over resources, as well as interest in resource access and affordability are possible directions of this PhD opportunity. Please reach out to Dr. Montgomery with further questions.

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

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

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

Wren Montgomery

Dr. Wren Montgomery’s research, teaching, and impact work focuses on environmental and social organizing, how it changes norms and institutions, and how it interacts with corporations. She is primarily interested in unique forms of collaboration and unconventional coalitions with the potential to overcome obstacles to solving many of the world’s most pressing challenges, with a focus on the intersections of climate change, water crises, soil degradation, and social justice. Her research integrates and contributes to theories of change across institutional theory, social movements, economics, and entrepreneurship. Wren’s multi-year research project on water access and affordability – with a focus on Detroit, Michigan – has received several prestigious honours including a best dissertation (ONE, 2016) and best paper award (OMT, 2016) at the Academy of Management. The first publication from this project, Water Wars in Detroit: Custodianship and the Work of Institutional Renewal (AMJ, 2020) also won both the IACMR-RRBM Award for Responsible Research in Management and the NBS-ONE Research Impact on Practice Award in 2020. Other research interests include corporate greenwashing and environmental and social entrepreneurship.

Dr. Montgomery is also deeply committed to doing research that has both academic significance and a more immediate impact on the world around us. She does this by helping students to understand the roots of problems and identify leverage points for change, by working with organizations to raise awareness of these challenges, by highlighting successful approaches and tools, by engaging and working collaboratively with impacted communities, and by serving on government and corporate boards. Wren is also an experienced management consultant and senior government policy analyst and is always happy to collaborate with organizations, entrepreneurs, and students doing the vital work of making change. 

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