PhD Full Scholarship in Sustainable Business Models and Ecosystems

Company:Ecole Polytechnique, Chaire Technology for Change

Location:France / Paris

Discipline:Sustainable Business Models and Ecosystems

Employment Type:PhD Full Scholarship


PhD Full Scholarship: Sustainable Business Models and Ecosystems

École Polytechnique - Chair Technology for Change

Description of the Position

The Chair “Technology for Change” of the Institut Polytechnique de Paris (IP Paris) – France’s leading STEM/Engineering University, combining the strength of five most reputed HE institutions: École Polytechnique (“l’X”), ENSAE, ENSTA, TelecomParis, TelecomSudParis – is opening a full scholarship PhD position in the areas of Sustainable Business Models and Ecosystems.

The scholarship corresponds to a 3-year fixed-term full-time employment. Gross Salary is €21,000 p.a. The PhD student will be enrolled at École Polytechnique (Paris) and be a part of Doctoral School of Institut Polytechnique de Paris. In addition to being a part of the team of the Chair Technology for Change, the PhD Student will be a member of the CNRS Innovation Interdisciplinary Institute (i3, UMR CNRS 9217).

This scholarship is available to EU citizens, UK nationals, and other applicants. Those in possession of their own funding (e.g. via a non-EU government scholarship) are also welcome to apply for a place of study.

This position does not entail teaching or administrative duties (besides administrative duties related to the PhD programme itself). However, there are teaching opportunities at both undergraduate and postgraduate level for PhD students willing to develop their teaching experience.

As a team member of the Chair Technology for Change, the PhD student will take part in the research and dissemination activities of the Chair, and is expected to provide help and assistance in the organisation and running of these activities when possible.

The Chair Technology for Change has strong ties with other international higher education institutions (in Germany – RWTH Aachen, TUM; Denmark – SDU, CBS; the Netherlands – Leiden University, TU Eindhoven; Switzerland – EPFL), and research visiting opportunities during the PhD can be offered.

The PhD thesis will be supervised by Prof. Thierry Rayna (École Polytechnique) and Dr Valentine Georget (University of Côte d’Azur).

PhD Topic

At a time when companies are being questioned – and, at times, chastised – about their environmental, social, and economic impact; at a time when CSR regulations are being tightened, and accusations of "greenwashing" and "social-washing" flourish, the question of the strategic decision-making tools and frameworks used by companies (and more broadly of organisations)

has become absolutely critical. Indeed, it has become necessary not only to rethink the very manner in which corporate performance is envisaged, but also the role played by companies in value creation, within increasingly vast and complex ecosystems.

In this context, this PhD thesis will investigate the role played by management tools and frameworks (whether strategic, related to impact assessment, ecosystem governance...) in the definition and implementation of sustainable business models, within complex value creation ecosystems (companies, research, funding bodies, civil society, etc.), which have an impact in the broadest sense of the term (environmental, social, societal and economic).

The research methodology envisaged is essentially qualitative (interviews, participant observation and action research, case studies) and will be carried out in research fields consisting of large companies from various sectors (transport, banking and finance, ICT, consulting), start-ups, NGOs and public administrations. There will also be options (when relevant) to develop quantitative approaches.

Beside contributions to theory and to the field of Business and Management, in general, this aim of this PhD thesis is to deliver practical contributions to practice that can be leveraged by the companies and institutions providing the research field.

Prerequisites and Skills


  • Be holder of Masters 2 degree (or equivalent) in a field relevant to the project (e.g. Business and Management, Economics, Public Policy – other fields can be considered).
  • Command of the French language – both spoken and written – (C1 level required), as most of the research fields are within a French-speaking context.
  • Ability to analyse and synthesise research outputs (in various scientific fields), reports, minutes, and other artefacts.
  • Command of the English language (both spoken and written – B2, is a minimal requirement; C1 strongly advised).
  • A strong interest in the research topics of the Chair Technology for Change.


  • Knowledge and experience of qualitative methods (e.g. interviews, coding, case study writing, action research), or a keen interest in those methods.
  • Knowledge and experience of qualitative coding software such as NVivo, RQDA (R).

Application Process

Please send the following with your application:

  • A CV, support statement, Masters/postgraduate studies transcripts/records (when available) – Bachelor or undergraduate studies transcript/records can also be supplied.
  • When available, a sample of writing and research output (e.g. Masters dissertation/thesis, undergraduate report)
  • Names and details of two academic referees (recommendation letters are not required at this stage, but may be supplied if available)

Applications should be sent by email at (please indicate “PhD Application / Business Models” as the subject of your email).

Applications will be examined continuously starting 15 June 2022, and the position will be filled as soon as a suitable candidate is identified, so we encourage potential applicants to send their application at the earliest opportunity.

Interviews (on campus or through videoconferencing) will be offered to a selection of applicants, based on the degree of fitness of their application to the requirements for this PhD project.

About the Institut Polytechnique de Paris and the Chair Technology for Change

The Institut Polytechnique de Paris is a public University/higher education and research institution comprising five prestigious French STEM and engineering Higher Education institutions: École Polytechnique, ENSTA Paris, ENSAE Paris, Télécom Paris and Télécom SudParis. Under the aegis of the Institute, they bring together two centuries of expertise to pursue two major goals: to develop world-class training programmes and cutting-edge research. Building on the strength of its five founding institutions, the Institut Polytechnique de Paris has established itself as a leading education and research institution in France and internationally. École Polytechnique, ENSTA Paris, ENSAE Paris, Télécom Paris and Télécom SudParis have contributed to major industrial and technological breakthroughs over the last two centuries. Their alumni include Nobel prize winners and prominent figures in the worlds of politics, business and research.

The Institut Polytechnique de Paris is ranked 49 in the world (2nd in France) according to the latest QS University Ranking. The Institute is ranked 12 in the World (1st in France) in the QS Graduate Employability Rankings 2022. École Polytechnique, and Télécom Paris, two of its founding members, have been consistently ranked respectively 2nd (after CalTech) and 7th in the THE Best Small Universities Ranking. The Institut Polytechnique is ranked 6th in the THE Top 10 Best Young Universities.

The Chair Technology for Change is the first Chair of the Institut Polytechnique de Paris and one of the largest funded chairs in the areas of Human and Social Sciences. Funded through an ambitious 5-year partnership between the Institut Polytechnique and Accenture, the Chair aims to strengthen the links between science & technology, and the environmental and social Grand Challenges currently faced by humankind, in order to help foster virtuous and inclusive technological developments. Led by Prof. Thierry Rayna (of École Polytechnique), the Chair’s team comprises at this stage eight academics, five PhD students, three postdocs, and a support team consisting of three people. An additional 10 more people (including four PhD students and three postdocs) are currently being recruited. The Chair’s offices are located in the Drahi-X Novation Center, on the Institut Polytechnique Campus (Greater Paris), that is host to the X-UP startup incubator, the X-Tech space tech accelerator, the prototyping and fabrication space X-F4B, as well as to innovation teams of large companies (Cisco, Fujitsu, Valeo...).

The Innovation Interdisciplinary Institute (i3) is a CNRS joint research unit (UMR 9217) bringing together research centres from École Polytechnique (CRG), Télécom Paris (SES), and Mines ParisTech (CERNA, CGS and CSI). The institute develops high-level research combining academic excellence and relevance for practitioners. A large part of i3’s research is carried out as part of research contracts (€3.9 million in 2021) with businesses, associations/NGOs, and government/public administrations. The Institute currently has 8 industry-funded academic chairs. Through its research and training activities, i3 contributes to addressing the major challenges of our time: diffusion of information technologies, health, innovation, energy and sustainable development.

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