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PhD position in Innovation and Strategy

We are looking for:

Are you inspired to change the way agri-food systems currently operate and do you want to contribute to the transition towards climate-smart agriculture? Have you envisioned an academic career thriving on close interactions with stakeholders? Are you interested in helping stakeholders to transform their business strategies, co-design alternative business models, and pursue systematic transition towards climate-smart production?

Then we are looking for you!

The European BEATLES project connects 18 organizations and 5 use cases with the aim to develop transformative pathways to encourage transition to fair, healthy and environment-friendly food systems. The ideal candidate will contribute to BEATELS with identifying sets of business strategies for establishing roadmaps towards climate-smart agriculture. For the interdisciplinary European BEATLES project we are looking for a highly motivated PhD candidate with a background in strategy and innovation studies, particularly with a focus on business model innovation.

As a PhD candidate, you will:

  • Be part of the BEATLES consortium and will collaborate with diverse sets of companies and research institutes in addition to a team of researchers from Wageningen University and Wageningen Economic Research,
  • Work with five innovative use cases and their stakeholders that represent diverse food systems in transition to climate-smart agriculture,
  • Explore stakeholder needs to develop value propositions and strategies that establish fairness for all value chain actors,
  • Co-design alternative business models together with stakeholders by identifying changes that should be implemented for the transition towards climate-smart food systems,
  • Develop and validate a portfolio of innovative business models,
  • Participate and present your research findings at international conferences, and publish articles in academic journals

The research is embedded within the chair Business, Management and Organization (BMO - WUR), led by Prof. Wilfred Dolfsma and Wageningen Economic Research. You will be supervised by Dr. Maral Mahdad (Business, Management and Organization- BMO) and Dr. Gohar Isakhanyan (Wageningen Economic Research- WeCR).

We ask for:

  • MSc degree in innovation management, or strategic management or sustainable business management or related fields,
  • Excellent research skills, and knowledge and experience with conducting qualitative interviews, focus groups, co-creation design, design science, literature review and qualitative content analysis. Preferably experience with quantitative methods,
  • Excellent academic writing skills and English language proficiency (a minimum of CEFR C2 level). For more information about this proficiency level, please visit our special language page,
  • Ability to work independently, as well as in an international interdisciplinary team,
  • A good organisational and project management skills,
  • Experience with academic journal publication is welcomed,
  • Preferably working experience with societal stakeholders,

Do you want more information?
For more information about this position, please contact Dr. Maral Mahdad, Assistant professor of innovation and entrepreneruship by e-mail

For more information about the procedure, please contact OR <HR adviser name>, <position>, <contact information>.

Do you want to apply?
You can apply directly by uploading your CV and motivation letter, using the apply button on the vacancy page on our website which will allow us to process your personal information with your approval.

This vacancy will be listed up to and including 30.03.2022.

We hope to schedule the first job interviews on 15.04.2022.

The preferred starting date for this position is June 2022.


Wageningen University & Research offers excellent terms of employment. A few highlights from our Collective Labour Agreement include:

  • study leave and partially paid parental leave;
  • working hours that can be discussed and arranged so that they allow for the best possible work-life balance;
  • the option to accrue additional compensation / holiday hours by working more, up to 40 hours per week;
  • there is a strong focus on vitality and you can make use of the sports facilities available on campus for a small fee;
  • a fixed December bonus of 8.3%;
  • excellent pension scheme.

In addition to these first-rate employee benefits, you will receive a fully funded PhD position and you will be offered a course program tailored to your needs and the research team.
The gross salary for the first year is € 2.443,- per month rising to € 3.122,- in the fourth year in according to the Collective Labour Agreements for Dutch Universities (CAO-NU) (scale P). This is based on a full-time working week of 38 hours. We offer a temporary contract for 18 months which will be extended for the duration of the project if you perform well.

There are plenty of options for personal initiative in a learning environment, and we provide excellent training opportunities. We are offering a unique position in an international environment with a pleasant and open working atmosphere.

You are going to work at the greenest and most innovative campus in Holland, and at a university that has been chosen as the “ Best University ” in the Netherlands for the 17th consecutive time.

Coming from abroad
Wageningen University & Research is the university and research centre for life sciences. The themes we deal with are relevant to everyone around the world and Wageningen, therefore, has a large international community and a lot to offer to international employees. Applicants from abroad moving to the Netherlands may qualify for a special tax relief, known as the 30% ruling. Our team of advisors on Dutch immigration procedures will help you with the visa application procedures for yourself and, if applicable, for your family.

Feeling welcome also has everything to do with being well informed. Wageningen University & Research's International Community page contains practical information about what we can do to support international employees and students coming to Wageningen. Furthermore, we can assist you with any additional advice and information about helping your partner to find a job, housing, schooling, and other issues.

Equal opportunities
Wageningen University & Research (WUR) employs a large number of people with very different backgrounds and qualities, who inspire and motivate each other. We want every talent to feel at home in our organisation and be offered the same career opportunities. We therefore especially welcome applications from people who are underrepresented at WUR. For more information please go to our inclusivity page. A good example of how WUR deals with inclusiveness can be read on the page working at WUR with a functional impairment.


The mission of Wageningen University and Research is “To explore the potential of nature to improve the quality of life”. Under the banner Wageningen University & Research, Wageningen University and the specialised research institutes of the Wageningen Research Foundation have joined forces in contributing to finding solutions to important questions in the domain of healthy food and living environment.

With its roughly 30 branches, 6.800 employees and 12.900 students, Wageningen University & Research is one of the leading organisations in its domain. An integrated approach to problems and the cooperation between various disciplines are at the heart of Wageningen’s unique approach. WUR has been named the best university of the Netherlands by students for the 17th time in a row.

Read the 5 reasons why your future colleagues enjoy working at WUR and watch this video to get an idea of our green campus!



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