I am Sylvia Grewatsch, Assistant Professor for Strategy, at Goodman School of Business, Brock University.
My research is driven by the environmental and societal challenges we face today and to what degree business organizations are a part of the problem and the solution. I am interested in how decision-makers think, act, and organize in order to address sustainability challenges. My research lies at the intersection of sustainability, strategy, and innovation. I draw on organizational theory, together with insights from strategic management, and science and technology studies.
I see student education as an important part of the solution to sustainability challenges. Therefore, I strive to equip my students with the tools and knowledge they need to become successful sustainability leaders in the organizations they will join or found.
I am newly appointed Assistant Professor for Strategy at the Goodman School of Business, Brock University. Prior to joining Brock university, I was a Postdoctoral Fellow at Ivey Business School, Western University (Canada), working together with Professor Tima Bansal on the topic of Innovations for Sustainability. Our Postdoc Project was awarded with the "highly commended" International Green Gown Award, which is an UN supported award recognizing sustainability best practice within the education sector globally.
Prior to joining Ivey Business School, I completed my PhD in Management on the Business Case of Corporate Sustainability at Aarhus School of Business and Social Sciences, Aarhus University (Denmark). My Ph.D. thesis was awarded with the EDAMBA dissertation award from the European Doctoral Programs Association in Management & Business Administration in 2017.
I was born and raised in Waren (Müritz) in Germany, but my passion for research has brought me across the world. In my spare time, I enjoy being active outside in the nature. Water is my favorite natural element.
My research looks at how social and environmental challenges shape organizations' strategic decision-making and actions. The nature of sustainability challenges is unpredictable and not known ex-ante. Thus, strategic responses to them are based on interpretative actions. Managers and organizations need to make sense of the situation before they can act. Therefore, I am interested on cognitive aspect about how organizations define the complexity of the problem and the holism of solutions.
During my Ph.D., I emphasized the aspect of decisions making by looking at the business case of corporate sustainability. My work was guided by the research question guiding the dissertation revolved around: “What is the relevance of the business case in Corporate Sustainability and how do we move beyond it?”. I focused on the constituent elements of the business case in Corporate Sustainability and its inherent problems of missing concreteness in theoretical understanding and research design. In my dissertation I criticize the business case thinking and propose alternative views toward a more complex and detailed understanding of corporate sustainability.
During my Postdoc, I studied concrete organizational actions towards sustainable development by following approaches to innovations for sustainability in the various Canadian industries, such as the Canadian Oil Sands industry and Social Innovation Labs. I investigated the role of different actors and how they see perceive the system they are part of.
For further information on my two recent areas of interest, innovations for sustainability and the business case for sustainability, please click on the boxes below.
Bansal, P., & Grewatsch, S. (2019). The unsustainable truth about the stage-gate new product innovation process. Innovation, 1-11.
Grewatsch, S., & Kleindienst, I. (2018). How organizational cognitive frames affect organizational capabilities: The context of corporate sustainability. Long Range Planning, 51(4), 607-624.
Grewatsch, S., & Kleindienst, I. (2017). When does it pay to be good? Moderators and mediators in the corporate sustainability–corporate financial performance relationship: A critical review. Journal of Business Ethics,145(2), 383-416.
Sylvia Grewatsch: Delivering Sustainability With a Smile. Network for Business Sustainability. August 8, 2019
How can businesses tackle climate change?. Network for Business Sustainability. March 13, 2019 (YouTube)
How an Oil Sands Collaboration is Accelerating Sustainability. Network for Business Sustainability. September 28, 2017
Teaming up to accelerate sustainability-focused innovation in Canada's oil sands. News@Ivey. September 19, 2017
My goal as a teacher is to prepare students for the professional context they will enter after graduation. I want to encourage students to think more analytical, to be critical in their assessment of a situation, and to formulate and communicate their alternatives adequately. To become effective strategic decision-makers, students need to be able to outline their arguments and to apply empirically grounded tools.
My teaching is directed at helping students develop these skills through actionable management knowledge. I strive to combine research-driven lessons with engaging exercises and real-world case studies. As a teacher at a business school, I see my role as being a developmental coach for students. Most business students have specific career aspirations and already concrete learning objectives, which I want to support in the best way.
Furthermore, I am also interested in the development of students' social competencies. I strive for an engaging and friendly classroom setting, where students can openly communicate and cooperate with each other as part of action-based learning. I believe that having social competencies increases students' peer acceptance and the ability to adapt to social environments.
For further information on my teaching experiences, teaching methods, and teaching evaluation, please click on the boxes below.
Awards & Honors
Over the course of my academic career, I have been very fortunate to receive external accolades for my research and contribution to the academic world. I am very thankful for all acknowledgments.
2019: Academy of Management Best Reviewer Award ONE
2019: International Green Gown Award, Highly Commended
2017: European Doctoral Association in Management and Business Administration (EDAMBA),1st Price (2.500€)
2017: Academy of Management ONE Dissertation Award, Finalist
2017: Academy of Management Best Reviewer Award ONE
2020: Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) Insights Development Grant
2020: Academy of Management Strategic Project Fund
2017: MITACS Postdoc Internship Grant (Purpose: Postdoc position, CAD $45.000)
2014: Augustinen Fonden (Purpose: Research stay abroad, 20.000 DKK)
2014: COWI Fonden (Purpose: Research support, 30.000 DKK)