The faculty members comprising this group include Tima Bansal, Oana Branzei and Caroline Flammer. They have published in the top journals in the management discipline, including the Academy of Management Journal, Strategic Management Journal, and Management Science. Their PhD students have also received several awards including the Governor General's Gold Medal (Natalie Slawinski) and conference best paper prizes (e.g. Michael Wood). Sustainability doctoral students will also be able to access funding through the Centre for Building Sustainable Value for attending conferences and submitting articles to top journals.

Even though the number of sustainability faculty within General Management is relatively small, Ivey's sustainability community is very large and active. Approximately 1/3 of faculty members across Ivey engage in sustainability research, reflecting its true cross-disciplinary nature (e.g. Rob Klassen, Alison Konrad, and Brandon Schaufele). As well, Ivey has attracted a large number of high quality doctoral students and post-doctoral students. The sustainability community at Ivey is vibrant, active, and supportive.

Students in the sustainability subgroup engage in issues that are relevant to both public and private interests. A core assumption of researchers in this group is that the broader social and environmental contexts matter to business. As a result, researchers in this group are interested in research that simultaneously creates positive organizational outcomes and broader societal outcomes.

Our subgroup looks to push the boundaries of organizational and strategy theories. We are excited by new ideas and new approaches, as current theories have not adequately addressed some of the significant macro challenges confronting communities of practice. We are also excited by research that has practical implications.

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. 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. With over 5000 individual members, 60 corporate partners and two international affiliates, NBS is actively shaping business practice and academic research.

*Please note that Sustainability is a stream under General Management

Areas of Research Focus

  • Social entrepreneurship
  • Large corporations
  • Developing and developed world
  • For-profits and non-profits
  • Cross-discipline analysis

Post-graduate Opportunities

The doctoral program in Sustainability is designed for those interested in pursuing academic careers in sustainability at top business schools. Typical courses in the first two years are listed below.

Program Requirements

Students have program requirements, put into place by the PhD office, and discipline requirements, which are governed by the student’s respective area group. On a case by case basis, some students may be able to waive out of particular required courses or substitute others. Such a course of action must be approved by the PhD director

All PhD students must complete the following requirements.

  • Attend “stats boot camp” (end of August at start of Year 1).
  • Pass 9702 Multivariate Analysis in Year 1.
  • Pass 9712 Special Topics in Statistics before end of Year 2.
    *The content of this course varies by year. Students are encouraged to take the course twice.
  • Pass 9704 Research Methods in Year 1.
  • Earn 80% or more on 9723 Summer Research Paper before start of Year 2 - Direct Entry Admissions only (i.e. admitted with only an undergraduate degree)
  • Pass at least two PhD-level courses outside of Ivey before the end of Year 2 or before taking comprehensive exams, whichever is first. It is strongly recommended that at least one of these courses is an econometrics course.
  • Shadow an Ivey professor for an entire undergraduate or MBA course. The associated professor must agree to make this a learning experience for the student (e.g. have conversations about pedagogy, be available for questions about curriculum etc.) and to provide written confirmation to the PhD office of attendance; OR
  • Complete at least 20 hours of courses, workshops etc. at Western’s Teaching Centre.

*In consultation with the student, the respective PhD coordinator shall determine which option better suits the student's needs.

Discipline Requirements

To be completed before the comprehensive exam unless otherwise noted.

  • 9770 Business Strategy I (0.5 units)
  • 9771 Business Strategy II (0.5 units)
  • 9826 (OB) Organizational Theory (0.5 units)
  • Two of the following GM field courses (1 unit total):
    • 9703 International Management (0.5 units)
    • 9773 Business Sustainability (0.5 units)
    • 9775 Non-market Strategy (0.5 units)
    • 9777 Entrepreneurship (0.5 units)
  • For the elective courses, students are required to take 1 unit of rigorous, graduate-level methods courses (e.g., econometrics) and 1 additional unit of other graduate-level electives (e.g., other GM fields courses, courses from other area groups or courses from main campus). The goal is to have students take a minimum of four courses a semester. Students should consult their PhD coordinator to help select these additional courses. All students should take rigorous quantitative methods to assure success on the methods portion of their comprehensive exams. To a certain extent, coursework may be customized to particular student needs and skills on a case-by-case basis in consultation with the respective GM PhD coordinator.
  • Econ 2150 or 2260 Undergrad.
    *Preferably completed before comps exam. Waived for students with strong econ background, granted by the student’s respective PhD Coordinator.


These milestones are designed to ensure students make forward progress. A student who does not achieve these milestones within the required timeline may have their funding partially or fully cut or be withdrawn from the program.

This exam will be completed within 22 months of entering the program (normally written between June 1 and July 15 of Year 2). If the student fails this exam, he or she has up to one year to retake the exam. A second failure will result in being withdrawn from the program.

A student will chose a supervisor within one month of passing the comprehensive exam and will communicate the choice in writing to both the PhD coordinator and the PhD office, copying the supervisor.

Between passing comps and sitting the “Thesis Proposal Exam” (below), the student must form a Thesis Supervisory Committee (commonly referred to as the Proposal Committee). This committee consists of a supervisor and at least one (but usually two or three) additional faculty member. Each must be a member of SGPS and a majority of this committee must be composed of faculty who have doctoral-level membership with SGPS. At least one member of this committee must be confirmed by Dec. 31 of Year 3. The names of this committee are to be forwarded to the PhD office. This committee “assists in the development of the candidate's research plan and thesis proposal, provides advice and criticism on the planning and writing of the thesis…” (more)

This exam is sometimes referred to as the proposal defence. Students must pass this exam within 12 months of passing the comprehensive exam. There may be no less than three months between passing the Thesis Proposal Exam and sitting for the Thesis Exam (below).

This is effectively the last hurdle for PhD students that is commonly referred to as the thesis defence. Students have six years to finish their degree.

Discipline Coordinator

Oana Branzei

Oana Branzei is Donald F. Hunter Professor of International Business and Associate Professor of Strategy at the Richard Ivey School of Business, University of Western Ontario, London, Canada. She is also the Director of the Sustainability Certificate program and the founder, convener and host faculty of the Ivey/ARCS PhD Sustainability Academy, an annual event of the Alliance for Research on Corporate Sustainability. Oana held a 2012/2014 visiting appointment with the Center for Positive Organizational Scholarship and the Erb Institute for Global Sustainable Enterprise at the Ross School of Business, University of Michigan. Oana’s research interests, at the intersection of strategy and sustainability, include the pro-social foundations, forms, and functions of business as agents of positive social change and the relational micro-processes of value creation, capture and distribution. She leads major research initiatives on positive social change, social enterprise, sustainable communities, and cross-sector partnerships. At Ivey, Oana has taught in the HBA, MBA, MSc, EMBA and PhD programs. Oana is a field editor for the Journal of Business Venturing and serves on the Editorial Review Boards of the Journal of Management and Academy of Management Learning and Education.

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