Call for Master thesis: Environmental Sustainability in Boards of Directors of SMEs
According to the World Bank, 90% of businesses are small and medium enterprises (SMEs) and are an essential part of supply chains. SMEs are therefore central to achieving green transformation on topics such as carbon neutrality, circular business models, and biodiversity loss. At the same time, SMEs face many challenges including financial survival in the context of COVID-19. Leaders of such organizations can be overwhelmed with the question of how to embed sustainability into the company’s strategy, setting suitable short and long-term targets, and how to monitor and assess the company’s sustainability activities.
This Masters research thesis aims to investigate the question: How can boards directors of Swiss SMEs become savvy on environmental sustainability? The role of board directors is supervisory by definition, and for many board directors, sustainability or ESG is a new topic. Even among large companies, only 6% of board directors have experience on environmental topics and 20% on social topics.
We are seeking a Master’s student to study this topic, which was designed in collaboration with industry partners in Switzerland. Questions that the student will explore include understanding how Swiss SME board directors acquire the necessary knowledge on environmental sustainability, how they monitor the SME’s sustainability activities, and the reporting measures, tools, and methods used. The study will likely adopt a qualitative approach via interviews with board directors of Swiss SMEs. The aim is to identify challenges and best practices that provide pragmatic insights.