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WBS PhD studentship in management insights for tackling grand challenges: the case of climate-related financial risks in the financial investment industry


Warwick Business School

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Dr K Dittrich No more applications being accepted Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About the Project

This four-year project is led by Dr. Katharina Dittrich and located within the Organisation and HRM (OHRM) group at WBS. This is an exciting opportunity to conduct research on a pressing societal concern, to work as part of a team of four researchers (the principal investigator and two Post-Doctoral Research Assistants) and to complete a PhD in Business and Management at WBS.

Despite the importance and significance of climate change for our planet and society, the finance sector for a long time has neglected climate change. In recent years, financial firms have realized that climate change poses significant material risks to financial assets and the stability of financial markets. Yet, investors are ill-equipped to deal with these risks. There is a dearth of climate-related financial information, risk models do not provide the forward-looking scenario analysis required for climate change, and short-term orientation is still the dominant view amongst many working in financial firms. The challenge of climate risk is that it is complex, multi-dimensional, far-reaching in breadth and magnitude, and nothing like the traditional risks in finance. Tackling climate-related financial risks is beyond the power of any single firm and involves a large ecosystem of organizations, including financial investors, data providers, consultancies, regulators and NGOs.

Of relevance to this challenge is a recent stream of research in management and organisation studies that investigates how organizations tackle these large-scale, complex, enduring problems, referred to as ‘grand challenges’ (Ferraro, Etzion, & Gehman, 2015; George, Howard-Grenville, Joshi, & Tihanyi, 2016). This research has helped to highlight the macro processes of institutional change and to uncover the contributions of single organizations and multi-stakeholder initiatives to solving grand challenges. While much can be learned from this research, it leaves open how organizations change what they do when they are caught in a complex web of interactions with other organizations. How do they overcome the practical challenges that emerge in the interactions with others? How do the local experiments in multiple organizations interact and contribute to emerging collective approaches to the large-scale problem? Drawing on practice theory (Nicolini, 2012) and innovative ethnographic research methods, this four-research project traces in detail the actions of multiple organizations in their efforts to address the large-scale, complex problem of climate-related financial risks. A more detailed description of the project can be provided upon request.

Scholarship details
The aim of the PhD scholarship is to contribute to the project by examining the efforts of two or three organizations in their efforts to address climate risks. The successful candidate will attend taught modules for the first year of their PhD studies, and then join the research team in the ongoing data collection and analysis for the next three years to complete their studies. They will also be supported by various training and development opportunities, including effective collaborations with practitioners, generating impact, qualitative research methods and career development.
Applicants are asked to put forward their own proposal for PhD research within the context of the larger project. The proposal must make clear how the proposed research will draw on theories and qualitative research methods in organisation studies and, if relevant, other related fields in the social sciences. More information on how to prepare the research proposal are provided here.

Skills Required
The ideal candidate has a good understanding of organization theory, organizational change and qualitative research methods, including ethnography. It would also be advantageous if the student had knowledge of the financial industry more generally and climate-related financial risks specifically. The applicant holds a (research) Master level degree, has experience with independent research (e.g. data analysis, literature reviews, academic writing), demonstrable ability to work independently, manage time and prioritize tasks, and is fluent in English.

Application Details
Interviews (virtual or face-to-face if possible) are likely to take place in the week commencing July 6th 2020. Every effort will be made to notify the successful candidate by July 15th 2020. For informal queries and initial expressions of interest, please contact Dr. Katharina Dittrich at: [Email Address Removed].

For enquiries on how to apply please contact the Doctoral Programme Office at [Email Address Removed] or +44 (0)24 7652 4754, or start your application online at https://warwick.ac.uk/pgapply. Please list the topic scholarship “Management insights for tackling grand challenges: the case of climate-related financial risks in the financial investment industry” in the application.
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