The concept of degrowth, which proposes the reduction of economic activities as a strategy to address environmental challenges, has garnered attention in recent times. While degrowth certainly presents possible solutions to environmental issues, it also raises concerns about economic stagnation, the stability of businesses, particularly small enterprises, and sustainable development goals such as reducing poverty (UN SDG #1), hunger (#2) and inequality (#10).
This research project aims to offer an alternative perspective by drawing inspiration from Aristotle's concept of 'oikonomy'—the sustainable management of our household or 'oikos'. In this context, ‘oikos’ signifies our natural environment, and the goal is to ensure that businesses can continue to grow and operate within the current economic system.
Historically, industries—most notably, agriculture—have prioritized maximizing yield, often at the expense of ecological stability. This kind of exploitation not only harms biodiversity but also poses a significant risk to the sustainability of business operations in the long term. As global demand intensifies, the imperative grows for businesses to strike a balance between growth and the preservation of the ecological function of our planet.
In today's commercial environment, successful and enduring corporate strategies are those that consider both economic growth and environmental sustainability. Such balanced solutions are increasingly earning the support of various stakeholders, ranging from government agencies and corporate executives to shareholders, consumers, and local communities, making them de facto the eighth “P” of competitive strategy: Planet.
Accordingly, this PhD project concentrates on innovative business models that explore the potential of an economy anchored in nature, emphasizing long-term well-being over short-term financial gains. A critical element of the research is the focus on land use for Nature_as a Service. Given the escalating global demand, there is increasing pressure on businesses, especially due to their contributions to greenhouse gas emissions and the depletion of natural resources and carbon sinks. The study advocates for a fundamental rethinking of business models related to land use, emphasizing strategies that are both ecologically sustainable and financially viable.
The research objectives include:
1. Understanding the complex relationship between land value, ecological factors, and financial and business management.
2. Creating business models that stress ecological restoration while ensuring financial viability and business expansion.
3. Investigating the challenges in securing legitimacy, market feasibility, and acceptance for these novel models.
The methodology for this project is multi-faceted. The initial phase will involve a comprehensive literature review that integrates insights across fields, including management, environmental science, economics, sociology, and policy studies. This will be followed by an exploration of theoretical frameworks and business models that integrate ecological considerations. Subsequently, the research will examine the financial implications and feasibility of ecological restoration and alternative land use strategies. Stakeholder feedback, collected through engagement with business leaders, consumers, and industry experts, will offer valuable insights into the perceived legitimacy and practicality of these sustainable business models.
PhDs at the School of Management adopt a three-paper route, in which PhD students are tasked with creating three research papers suitable for high-quality journals (with our collaboration and feedback).
The supervisory team will also include a practitioner, Patrick Vandesteen, who will facilitate access to information and networks while also providing guidance on the research.
The Successful Candidate should:
Fulfil the entrance requirements for a PhD in the School of Management
All PhD students must commence registration and PhD training in September 2024 (The applicants without MRes degree will study on Integrated Management programme School of Management PhD structure and content (bath.ac.uk))
Enquiries and Applications:
Informal enquiries are welcomed and should be directed to Dr Kostas Iatridis and Dr Daniela Defazio (firstname.lastname@example.org, D.Defazio@bath.ac.uk)
Please make contact with the lead supervisor directly and see if they are happy for you to submit an application in advance.
More information about applying for a PhD at Bath may be found on our website.