Emerald & EFMD outstanding doctoral research awards

International recognition for doctoral research in responsible management.

Award status: Closed
Submission deadline: We are no longer accepting submissions

Rewarding doctoral research that addresses the grand challenges

We’re proud to support the global research community through an award programme that recognises exceptional doctoral research that addresses the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The SDGs are an urgent call for action by all countries to achieve a better and more sustainable future for all. They address the global challenges we face including poverty, inequality, climate change, peace and justice.

EFMD logo

The last few years have been extraordinary and challenging on a global scale.

We’ve seen unprecedented change and disruption to our lives and the society we live in. There has never been more need for positive change.

This is why we’re pleased to partner with the EFMD to reward the work of doctoral students whose research can create a positive impact on a local and global scale in the area of responsible management.

How does it work?

We champion the work of those who share our goal of contributing to a more ethical, responsible, and sustainable way of working. We’re offering a prize and two runners-up prizes for the best doctoral research from the last three years that addresses areas relating to responsible management.

Submit now if your doctoral research covers any of the following areas that contribute to a more responsible world:

  • Responsible leadership
  • UN SDG-related issues for responsibility
  • Food poverty and security
  • Sustainable supply chains
  • CSR and greenwashing
  • Reducing inequality
  • Responsible and ethical marketing
  • Innovative responsible management
  • Social responsibility
  • Responsible economics
  • Curriculum development in responsible management
  • Responsible management knowledge transfer partnerships

You don’t need to submit your full thesis to enter, but you need to succinctly summarise the most important parts of your research. Entries will be judged by leading scholars working in the field of management.

If you’ve completed your doctorate within the last three years, apply now!

The prize

The winner will receive:

  • A cash prize of £1,000.00
  • A certificate
  • A published interview on the Emerald website
  • An opportunity to work directly with our partners Editage to create a bespoke and engaging research summary

Runners up will receive: a certificate and a published interview on the Emerald website.

Submit your research

To submit your work, you will need to apply online using this application form.

The following documents are required electronically:

  • Research Summary: A paper that summarises your doctoral research in no more than 2,000 words. Please state whether or not your doctoral research has been published and/or will be published in any form (conference paper, article, peer reviewed journal, etc). Please use the Research Summary template.
  • Letter of recommendation/reference from a supervisor/senior faculty member: the letter should state why your supervisor feels that your work is outstanding and what impact it will have. For shortlisted applicants, further contact may be made with the referee.

Submission deadline: Closed for submissions.


To be eligible for the awards, the research must address an issue that is of importance to one of the subject areas listed.

The awards are open to those who have been awarded PhD following completion of viva (thesis defence) and received formal results from your institution’s awards registry between 15 January 2020 and 28 February 2023 and have not applied previously for one of these awards.

Judging criteria

Entries will be judged on the following criteria:

  1. Originality and innovation
  2. Appropriateness and application of the methodology
  3. Quality of data/research
  4. Significance/implications for theory and practice.

Please note that the decision of the judges is final. Unfortunately, due to the large number of submissions, we are unable to provide individual feedback.

Meet our award winners & judging panel

On behalf of EFMD, it is my pleasure to congratulate the winner and the highly commended authors for their excellent research work that earned them the recognition of the 2022 Outstanding Doctoral Research Award. These dissertations reflect rigorous inquiry and the ability to generate innovative solutions to global challenges, serving as an inspiration to fellow researchers worldwide. We are happy to continue collaborating with Emerald to recognise and encourage exceptional doctoral research contributing to a more responsible world.    

Prof. Eric Cornuel, President, EFMD Global


  • Dr. Vivek Aggarwal, Swami Vivekananda Subharti University, India
  • Fabio Caputo, Univeristà del Salento, Italy
  • Abderrahman Hassi, Al Akhawayn University, Morocco
  • Richard Howarth, Nottingham Trent University, UK
  • Talat Islam, University of the Punjab, Pakistan
  • Zul-Atfi Ismail, Universiti Malaysia Perlis, Malaysia
  • Patrick Kraus, Hochschule Pforzheim, Germany
  • Henri Kuokkanen, Institut Paul Bocuse, France
  • Dr Brandon Randolph-Seng,  Texas A&M University, USA
  • Zahid Riaz, Coventry University, UK
  • Moade Shubita, Leeds Business School, UK
  • Professor Peter Stokes, De Montfort University, UK
  • Dr Martina Topic, Leeds Beckett University, UK
  • Suzanne Smith, University of Bradford, UK
  • Jing Li, University of Bradford, UK
  • Constantin Blome, University of Sussex, UK

Our 2023 winners


Sherri Kong

Dissertation title: How multicultural leaders approach identifying and responding to problems in sustainability: A qualitative study
Institution: North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University
PhD obtained at: North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University

"As a mother of bicultural children and having lived overseas myself, I recognised the complex thinking skills that emerge from navigating one’s identity between cultures. I was curious about how these cultural experiences could help a leader working in sustainability, since all sustainability issues cross borders.

The main implication of my research is that leaders from multicultural backgrounds have the cultural understanding and insight to navigate complex situations. We had participants share examples of how they used their cultural knowledge and language skills to facilitate dialogue, generate ideas, and influence behaviour change.

I hope that more people from bicultural and minority backgrounds recognize that their unique abilities are needed to address sustainability-related issues."

Read more about Sherri Kong's research, and download the infographic


Highly commended

Vasanthi Suresh

Dissertation title: Employment and Employability of Persons with Disabilities: Individual and Organizational Accounts
Institution: SASTRA University (Chennai Campus), India
PhD obtained at: Indian Institute of Technology Madras, India

Vasanthi Suresh has been Highly Commended for the 2023 Emerald and EFMD Outstanding Doctoral Research Awards for her research, which explores ways to enhance employment levels among Persons with Disabilities.

Persons with Disabilities (PwD) make up approximately 15% of the world's population. Shockingly, around 80–90% of working-age people with disabilities in developing nations are unemployed. Dr. Vasanthi Suresh's doctoral thesis delves into the perspectives of both PwD and their employers in India's organised sector to examine strategies for inclusive employment of this marginalised group.

The United Nations' Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) envision increased participation of minorities, including PwD, in global development. In line with the SDG mandate, countries are implementing measures to improve the employability of PwD. However, several countries, including India, are yet to see concrete results, with PwD continuing to face several challenges in accessing and maintaining employment.

Taking a phased approach, Dr. Suresh’s study examined perspectives of both employers and individuals with disabilities. From the employer viewpoint, some of the interventions under scrutiny included targeted recruitment and job matching for PwD. In the subsequent phase, Dr. Suresh directly obtained information from PwD regarding their access to personal and contextual resources, and how this impacted their perceived employability.

"My study focused on understanding on-the-ground reality in Indian organisations that employ PwD with a focus on the interventions adopted to ensure inclusion, the demographic profile of PwD employed in the formal sector, and resources that could help enhance employability of PwD," Dr. Suresh clarifies.

Dr. Suresh's research revealed that despite the increase in measures aimed at enhancing employability, PwD may continue to face challenges in obtaining and maintaining jobs within Indian organisations for several reasons. “While on one hand we note active facilitation through inclusive interventions, this co-exists with passive discrimination limiting employment opportunities for persons with certain types of disabilities," she comments. Notably, the research suggests that the lack of information and awareness at the organisational level regarding the employability of people with various types of disabilities contributes to their exclusion from job opportunities. "An organisation's effective decision-making can be hampered by its own limitations in awareness, thinking, information availability, and time constraints," Dr. Suresh notes. "Tapping into available external resources can help address various conscious or unconscious biases and thereby avoid unintentional exclusion of PwD."

Another crucial finding of Dr. Suresh's research is that demographic differences impact employment outcomes among PwD. "There exists a need to consider the intersection of disability with other vulnerable identities, so that employer policies can be designed to effectively address the compounding negative effect of multiple intersecting vulnerable identities," Dr. Suresh observes.

Dr. Suresh's thesis encourages organisations to acknowledge the heterogeneity among PwD and avoid a standardised approach to job matching. The intentional and voluntary endeavors of employers can have a significant positive impact on job matching for PwD, facilitating their productive deployment.

"While compatibility between a job's demands and individual's capabilities needs to be achieved for effective deployment of PwD, the answer to the question 'Does compatibility exist?' is not always binary; a spectrum of opportunities that fall under: 'Possible, can be made compatible', resides between 'Yes, compatible' and 'No, not compatible'", she explains.

Dr. Suresh concludes by saying, "I feel incredibly grateful and honored to receive this prestigious award and humbled by the recognition. I take this opportunity to express my gratitude to my research advisor, Dr. Lata Dyaram, for her guidance and support through the various phases of this challenging but rewarding journey."

This study will indeed trigger more conversations among researchers in this space, towards promoting inclusion and integration of PwD.



Highly commended

Ahmed M. Adel

Dissertation title: Comparison of Chinese and Egyptian Consumers' Behavioral Intentions of Suboptimal Food Products: An Empirical Study Based on Economic Value and Social Psychology
Institution: Cairo University, Egypt
PhD obtained at: Huazhong University of Science and Technology, China

Ahmed M. Adel has been Highly Commended for the 2023 Emerald and EFMD Outstanding Doctoral Research Awards for his research exploring the factors influencing consumers' choice of suboptimal food products.

Food waste has adverse social, environmental, and economic effects, making it a major hurdle in achieving sustainable growth. It is estimated that nearly one-third of all food produced for human consumption is wasted. The tendency of people to avoid non-aesthetic food products, known as 'suboptimal’ food products, is a major factor that contributes to food wastage. Dr. Ahmed M. Adel explored the factors that motivate or deter people from purchasing suboptimal food products and recommending such food to others in his award-winning dissertation thesis.

"Encouraging consumers not to avoid suboptimal food products might help reduce the burgeoning food waste problem. Despite the obvious imperative to identify the major factors that motivate or discourage individuals from choosing suboptimal food products, little research to date has directly investigated them. Meanwhile, most studies concerning preferences for suboptimal products lack the appropriate theoretical basis due to a disproportionate reliance on practical interventions," explains Dr. Adel.

Dr. Adel approached his research subject from two different perspectives. Firstly, he investigated how economic factors affect behavioural intentions of customers. Second, he explored the social and psychological factors that influence consumers' choices of suboptimal products. Since price reduction is becoming a straightforward approach to increase acceptance of suboptimal foods, Dr. Adel’s dissertation employs purchase value theory to examine behavioural intentions from an economic perspective. “This theory provides an appropriate framework to investigate behavioural intentions towards price promotions. Moreover, this dissertation extends theory of planned behavior (TPB) to investigate behavioural intentions from a social-psychological perspective," Dr. Adel notes.

Dr. Adel's dissertation significantly advances our understanding of the factors that motivate and demotivate customers to purchase or recommend suboptimal fresh produce. It lays a theoretical foundation for future targeted strategies aimed at reducing food waste. Moreover, his research represents a pioneering effort in identifying demotivating factors and cross-cultural influences on customer behavior related to suboptimal produce.

For managers seeking to implement sustainable market strategies, Dr. Adel's thesis recommends a gradual pricing strategy to promote suboptimal produce. It suggests that promoting suboptimal produce as a "good deal" rather than a "cheaper alternative" may increase demand. "Promoting suboptimal food products at reduced prices is a good strategy, but they also need to be promoted as 'a good deal' to increase the perceived value of such products for all consumers with different price perceptions. Promoting suboptimal products as 'a good deal' is important to make consumers perceive themselves as 'smart shoppers' while making decisions regarding suboptimal products," explains Dr. Adel.

Policymakers can play a significant role in promoting suboptimal food products across countries, according to Dr. Adel's research. State authorities can improve demand for suboptimal products through coordinated action with farmers and retailers. Governments can create or promote campaigns through popular media channels such as television and introduce awareness programs for kids and teenagers to make suboptimal produce a more attractive alternative and tackle food waste. "Creating a constructive community dialogue about the seriousness of food waste and the role of suboptimal products represents the first step in awareness creation and developing favourable social pressure," Dr. Adel concludes.


Previous winners


Vanessa Sofia Melo Magalhães

Dissertation title: Framework development for the prevention of food loss and waste: An analysis along the fresh food supply chain
Institution: University of Coimbra, Portugal
PhD obtained at: University of Coimbra

"The main goals of my PhD thesis were to advance our understanding of food loss and waste along fresh food supply chains and provide a research framework to guide future investigations seeking the most promising mitigation strategies.

I feel equally honoured and humbled to have been recognised for my work. It is a recognition of what I had set out to achieve with my PhD. I am grateful to the organisers of this award programme and the judging panel for acknowledging my contribution to responsible management and achieving Sustainable Development Goals.

I also want to thank my research advisors, Professor Luís Ferreira and Professor Cristóvão Silva from the University of Coimbra. Their guidance, expertise, and unwavering support have been instrumental in the success of my research, and I am privileged to have worked with such outstanding researchers."


Highly commended

Rafael Lorenz

Dissertation title: Data-Enabled Productivity Improvement in Manufacturing
Institution: ETH Zurich
PhD obtained at: ETH Zurich

"Research on the effects of digitalisation on operational performance remains limited, requiring operations managers to make strategic decisions on digital solutions under uncertainty. My research informs operations managers how to prepare for digitalisation, supports manufacturers in exploring and selecting digital solutions that fit their specific requirements, and guides them how to implement and scale digital solutions in manufacturing.

I am honoured to receive this recognition. It confirms the relevance and importance of my research and will hopefully encourage fellow researchers. Most importantly, this research has been a joint effort and I am indebted to the support from my professor, my co-supervisor, and the colleagues I have been working with."


Highly commended

Marco Escadas

Dissertation title: From Sufficient to Necessary: The Integrated Role of Emotions on Consumer Ethical Decision Making
Institution: University of Minho, Portugal
PhD obtained at: University of Minho, Portugal

"The integrated role emotions play in explaining and predicting consumer ethical decisions uncovered in this research would appear to be significant not just for business, but for life as well. I am thrilled and honoured to be recognised as a Highly Commended entrant of the 2022 Emerald and EFMD Outstanding Doctoral Research Awards. This is really an amazing milestone.

A very special thank you to my supervisors, Professor Minoo Farhangmehr, from the University of Minho, and Professor Marjan S. Jalali, from ISCTE Business School, for their guidance, patience, and enthusiastic support in all stages of this process. Thank you very much to Emerald, EFMD, and the judging panel for continuing supporting emerging researchers and projects."


Alfonso Antonio Hernández Vivanco

Dissertation title: Understanding Innovation within the context of the Integration of Management Systems
Institution: University of Barcelona
PhD obtained at: University of Barcelona

'I am thrilled and honoured to be the recipient of the Outstanding Doctoral Research Award 2021. It really means a lot to me, not only because of the prestigious international recognition that it represents, but also because I hope my work contributes to building a more sustainable society.

I am deeply grateful to Emerald Publishing, EFMD, and the judging panel for choosing to reward my research.

Special thanks to my supervisors Dr. Merce Bernardo and Dr. Claudio Cruz-Cázares of the University of Barcelona for their guidance and support. I also thank Dr. Paulo Sampaio of University of Minho for receiving me in his team for my PhD international stay.'


Highly commended

Amer Jazairy

Dissertation title: Engaging in green logistics: An eye on shippers, logistics service providers, and their interactions
Institution: Texas A&M University
PhD obtained at: KTH Royal Institute of Technology, University of Gävle

'It is a great honour to have my doctoral dissertation recognised as a highly commended winner of the 2021 Emerald and EFMD Outstanding Doctoral Research Award in the field of Sustainable Supply Chain Management.

I am grateful to my supervisors Prof. Lars Bengtsson, Dr. Robin von Haartman and Dr. Andreas Feldmann for their unwavering support during my doctoral journey.

My appreciation extends to Emerald Publishing and EFMD Global for recognising the contribution of my research to responsible management and sustainable development goals.'


Highly commended

Leandro Nardi

Dissertation title: The Rise of Impact-Oriented Strategies: Value Creation and Socio-Environmental Firm-Level Goals
Institution: HEC Paris
PhD obtained at: Insper Institute of Education and Research

'I am thrilled to receive an award that highlights research contributions to the SDGs!

As a scholar, I hope that interest in nonfinancial performance, social impact and grand societal challenges continues to grow among researchers and practitioners in business and management.

Many thanks to Emerald and EMFD for recognising my work, and to all my mentors and coauthors – particularly my supervisors, professors Sergio Lazzarini and Sandro Cabral – for their guidance and support!'

Frequently asked questions

No. You do not need to submit your full thesis. The judges’ decision will be based on your ability to succinctly summarise the most important parts of your research in relation to the judging criteria.

No. However, this is an annual award and you can apply next year.

Using the Research Summary template, complete the following details

  • Why your research contributes to a more responsible world and any applications in practice if applicable
  • What is original and innovative about your work
  • The methodology you applied
  • Your data and how they led to your findings
  • Details of any papers published or presented based on your thesis research.

NB. This should be from your doctoral supervisor, or any member of the committee/judging panel deciding on your thesis, depending on how your doctorate is conferred in your country or university.

It should answer the following three questions:

  1. What is outstanding about the thesis?
  2. What is the substantive contribution to the field?
  3. Is the data of good quality and how difficult was it to obtain?

Yes. You can apply provided that your application, research summary and reference letter are all in English.

Yes. You can apply whether or not you have published a paper from your doctoral research. If you have published, please provide details in your Research Summary.

No. Unfortunately, we can only accept one application per person.

No. You can only apply for an Outstanding Doctoral Research Award once.

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Get in touch

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