The Deloitte Circular Economy Chair was a victim of its own success, and had to reward not one but three research theses.

The prizes for the best thesis on the circular economy and sustainable development were awarded by the Deloitte Circular Economy & Sustainable Business Models Chair to Lucie Delzant, who received the “Contemporary Societal Challenges” prize, William Bertin (MiM student), who won the “Jury's Favourite” prize and Dennis Nesemeir, who was awarded the “Deloitte Special” prize.
“We received 30 applications, compared to 10 in 2019. This is a very important sign for the school that so many students decided to do their master’s thesis on sustainability-related topics,” commented the co-directors of the chair: Professors Valentina Carbone and Aurélien Acquier, who is also the school’s Associate Dean for Sustainability. It was therefore a difficult choice for the jury, which included chair programme manager Anne France Mariacher, as well as Marie Georges and Philippe Kuch, two Deloitte experts who are very involved in the chair's activities, and other Deloitte consultants: Khai Linh Lhomme, Carole Arnal, Célia Meunier and Laura Plamondon. “Many of these were of an outstanding quality, we were struck by the students’ creativity, rigor and engagement, and really enjoyed reading the theses, but we also struggled to declare a unique winner! After long discussions, and to value and reward their work, we decided to attribute three different awards this year, each prize being of 1,500 euros.” 

-          Lucie Delzant’s thesis, which was supervised by Aurélien Acquier, was entitled Political CSR: an analysis of Google and Facebook’s controversies. “The thesis aims to analyse the political role of tech companies in a context of growing awareness and scepticism around them. Indeed, these tech actors, also known as GAFA, face criticisms about their political role, the lack of international regulation regarding their operations and activities and the effects of their influence,” the MSc in International Sustainability Management student explains. “The analysis is based on the concept of Political CSR and provides insights on the narratives of firms to respond to the controversies they are facing. The thesis maps the controversies and uses the response narratives as material upon which the conclusions and analytical reflections are drawn, after applying them to theoretical research frameworks.”

-          The thesis of Dennis Nesemeier, which was supervised by Prof. Fabrizio Granà, was entitled Making sustainability material - exploring investors’ priorities in non-financial disclosures in the automotive industry. “The investment industry plays a vital role in the implementation of sustainable business practices, as it steers the allocation of capital and directly alters management practices,” the Master in Management student explains. “However, to incorporate environmental, social, and governance considerations into the investment decision-making process, more effective non-financial disclosure practices are required. Hence, this research investigates the claim that companies must develop more thorough non-financial disclosure practices that collocate with the special interests of the investment industry. This is accomplished via a case study of the German automotive industry.”

-          William Bertin’s thesis, which was also supervised by Aurélien Acquier, was entitled What to do with collapsology: A study of the psychological processes and management strategies of sustainable development professionals faced with the problem of collapse. “This study follows up on existing research regarding the mental health consequences of climate change and environmental damage caused by human action, and is inspired by the growing popularity of collapse theories throughout the world,” the Master in Management student explains. “In the end, not only did the study deliver on its original goals, but it also found meaningful and unexpected results and suggested two new theoretical models that, if confirmed by further research, would constitute true theoretical advancements. Designed to raise awareness on a (sometimes) controversial topic, it already circulated quite a bit outside of ESCP and has been well received by all interested parties so far, including the two specialists that joined my supervisor for the oral defence in June.”

You can learn more about the students’ research by watching the video above, which was recorded during an online event organised to allow them to present their work and engage in a Q&A session with the 50+ participants (students, alumni, but also professional contacts of the chair who had been invited to join).