PhD Position in Sustainable Development, University of Utrecht, The Netherlands

Expires on: 03/15/2024


The transformation towards a net-zero society in 2050, as well as other sustainability targets, require exnovation and departing unsustainable production processes across different sectors. For enterprises in many sectors, this requires phase-out of existing processes and divesting entire operational units. Such processes have many implications and hold challenges in terms of social and economic (in)justice. How are processes of decline and phase-out organised, and what are their organisational and societal implications? What are the underlying organisational dynamics and how do enterprises interact with governments, knowledge institutions, civil society organisations and local communities? Often, phase-out processes are contested by internal as well as external stakeholders. How can such processes be organised in a just manner?

This PhD project investigates the process dynamics of exnovation, decline and phase-out towards sustainability across sectors and enterprises where (binding) phase-out targets are in place. Examples are agriculture, mobility, energy, or chemistry. Based on qualitative (case) studies in the selected sector(s), you will follow and/or reconstruct processes and interactions between the parties involved, analyse their discourse and actions, and identify implications and opportunities for organising phase-out in a just manner.

We are looking for an enthusiastic and ambitious colleague to further strengthen our group with a focus on organisational dynamics and just sustainability transitions. You will be positioned at the Copernicus Institute of Sustainable Development and embedded within two sections


  • You have a Master’s degree in a relevant field such as innovation studies, innovation management, political science, science and technology studies, business or governance studies, or another relevant discipline.
  • You have a good understanding of societal challenges, in particular climate change in relation to (in)justice.
  • You have experience in qualitative research methods.
  • You are a good professional and scientific writer and you can also write for a wider audience.
  • You have good social and communication skills.

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