PhD candidate brokerage behavior in translating environmental issues in collective action

PhD candidate brokerage behavior in translating environmental issues in collective action

Published Deadline Location
11 May 16 Jun Tilburg

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Tilburg University | Department of Organization Studies is looking for a PhD candidate for the project "The role of brokerage behavior in translating environmental issues in collective action” for the Department of Organization Studies, location is Tilburg. Scientific field: Social Sciences.
Duration of employment contract: 12 months, followed by 36 months (fulltime) or 48 months (0,8 FTE).

Job description

Project description
Environmental issues such as climate change are a significant threat to organizations and society. The ill-defined problem scope, variety of responsible actors involved, and demands for collective action make these issues “wicked problems” that no organization alone can address. Cross-sectoral partnerships (CSPs), such as R&D projects that bring together universities, research institutes, and private companies, play a critical role in addressing “wicked problems” by enabling resource pooling and collective action. One major challenge of CSPs is the translation of large-scale environmental issues into a set of manageable problems. In CSPs, translation is complex and multifaceted because of diversity of cognitive schemas of the actors involved and the interactions between actors needed to reach agreement.

Project aim:
We seek to address the following guiding question: How do organizations in CSPs translate environmental issues, share their translations, and foster collective action? This research project aims to unpack two-layered mechanisms – i) how organizations independently translate complex environmental issues into organizational problems and ii) how organizations collectively translate the issues by sharing interpretations and building joint cognitive schemata. We highlight the role of brokerage behavior facilitating coordination of distinct translations, resource exchange and resolution. The study is expected to reveal cognitive structure of translation by participating CSP members throughout collaborative process and identify various interaction patterns facilitated by brokers in CSPs. Broadly, our project contributes to addressing blind spots of interorganizational network research and collective action on sustainability.

To explore these issues, this research will take a mixed methods approach to examine CSP-projects on sustainability. The incoming PhD student, will primarily study CSP-project documentation, as well as attend and transcribe CSP meetings, and conduct interviews with CSP participants. This research project will leverage text analysis (topic modeling) technique and social network analysis technique on CSP-project documentation, meeting notes, and interviews with CSP participants. 

Job description 
The PhD project is funded by an early career Starter Grant allocated to the daily supervisory team (Dr. Kim & Dr. Mannak) at Tilburg University from the Dutch government’s sector funds program. 
Responsibilities are: 

  • Pro-actively planning and executing data collection and analyses 
  • Active participation in the team involved in this project and in the Departments (e.g., by attending departmental meetings)
  • Writing international scientific publications and practitioner documents, as well as a PhD thesis
  • Presenting at national and international scientific conferences and disseminating findings to non-scientific audiences (e.g., CSPs working on environmental issues)
  • Teaching and thesis supervision (max 0.2 FTE)


Tilburg University


We look for a highly motivated, inquisitive, enthusiastic, pro-active, and result-driven PhD candidate. Applicants must have a relevant MSc degree (preferably a research master), for example in management, organization studies or information technology (Open to sociology and other related disciplines).  

  • General interest in environmental issues, cognitive and interaction processes, and CSPs as form of organizing.
  • Interest in conducting high-quality research on the intersection between organization and management studies, and environmental issues.
  • Excellent research skills and data analytical abilities, including at least basic knowledge of both qualitative and quantitative research methods and statistical programs (e.g., STATA, SPSS or R), along with the willingness to develop and learn. Experience with topic modeling and social network analysis is an asset.
  • Creative and open thinking (e.g. ability to listen to and react to insights from the field, instigate the involvement of new emerging concepts, rather than solely imposing one’s own views).
  • Pro-active learning attitude and ability to work independently.
  • Excellent project management and organization skills.
  • Excellent communication and cooperation skills and the willingness to work in a team.
  • Proficiency in English and advanced English writing skills. 
  • Interest in providing small-scale education, such as working groups and bachelor thesis supervision. 

Conditions of employment

The PhD candidate will be employed by Tilburg University, which is among the top of the Dutch employers and has an excellent policy concerning terms of employment. The appointments are intended to lead to the completion of a PhD thesis. The PhD appointment begins with a period of 12 months. Continuation of the appointment with another 36 (fulltime) or 48 (0,8 FTE) months will be based on performance evaluation. The gross salary for the PhD position amounts to € 2.541,- per month in the first year, rising to € 3.247,- per month in the fourth year, based on a full-time appointment (38 hours per week).


Tilburg School of Social and Behavioral Sciences

Tilburg School of Social and Behavioral Sciences (TSB) is a modern, specialized university. The teaching and research of the Tilburg School of Social and Behavioral Sciences are organized around the themes of Adaptive societies, organizations, and workers, Healthy life span, Personalized prevention and care. The School's inspiring working environment challenges its workers to realize their ambitions; involvement and cooperation are essential to achieve this.

Tilburg School of Social and Behavioral Sciences


Tilburg University and the Department of Organization Studies

Tilburg University is a modern, specialized university. Tilburg is located in the Southern part of the Netherlands, at a 1h to 1.5h traveling distance from Amsterdam, Rotterdam, and Utrecht, close to Europe’s foremost high-tech regions (Brabant South-East) and equidistant from Brussels (Belgium) and the Aachen/Cologne area (Germany). Researchers in the Department of Organization Studies examine dynamics inside, between and across organizations. The department offers courses related to the PhD role, such as about Interorganizational Relationships, Wicked Problems, and Global Management of Social Issues. More information about the School and department can be found at the respective links.


  • PhD
  • Behaviour and society
  • 32—40 hours per week
  • €2541—€3247 per month
  • University graduate
  • 21586



Warandelaan 2, 5037 AB, Tilburg

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