“Business for a Better World” Dissertation Proposal Competition

Colorado State University


  • Ariel de Fauconberg, University of Cambridge, Advisor: Matthew Grimes

“The Power (and Stigma) of Oil: Strategic Identity Position and Innovation in the Energy Sector”

  • Diana Jue-Rajasingh, University of Michigan, Advisors: Jordan Siegel and Mark Mizruchi

“Development Markets and Businesses for Environmental Health Innovations”

  • Youngtak Kim, University of Georgia, Terry College of Business, Advisor: Sundar Bharadwaj

“Do Sustainable New Products Contribute to Firm Value?”

are the winners of the first “Business for a Better World” Dissertation Competition. Each have received $6,000 to fund their work, and they are participating in a virtual research workshop on Sept 17 during which they will present their work.


Endorsed by Responsible Research in Business & Management (RRBM) and consistent with RRBM’s vision, the College of Business at Colorado State University is providing funding for dissertation proposals addressing business sustainability. We seek proposals from students across all business disciplines. The authors of the three proposals judged to have the greatest potential for enhancing societal well-being will each receive $6000. In addition, the winners along with leading scholars whose research is aimed at creating a better world, will be invited to participate in a virtual research workshop during which the winners will present their research.

To be eligible, proposals must focus on one or more environmental and/or social outcomes of business. Applicable areas of inquiry (stated in broad terms) include, but are not limited to:

  • natural capital
  • circular economic systems
  • greenhouse gasses
  • conservation
  • resource extraction
  • pollution
  • transparency
  • integrity
  • trust
  • health and safety
  • poverty and security
  • diversity and inclusion

Also, eligibility is limited to those who are pursuing a doctorate in a business discipline and whose dissertation research at the time of submission to this competition is less than 50% complete.

Proposals must be no longer than 20 pages in length and adhere to the following structure:


Identify the problem you are studying and its societal significance. In doing so, illuminate how the research addresses an important gap in current knowledge and the helpfulness of the findings. The introduction must describe how the research contributes to understanding and practicing business in a sustainable manner. Thus, in addition to considering the economic priorities of business, the research must have strong social and/or environmental business implications.


This section of the proposal must detail the methods that will be utilized. Clarity, accessibility, and detail are critical such that reviewers gain an understanding of how the research will be executed. This section should be well organized and presented in a sequence that is easy to follow; use headings and subheadings. Figures and tables (preferably embedded within the text) should be used to complement the text and provide important details. Use clear descriptions of concepts while including highly technical material in appendices. Given page limits, make sure to include the information that is most critical in gaining a complete understanding of the research approach. From your description, it should be evident how the research design follows the principles of responsible research to enhance both the credibility and usefulness of the research findings. (See the RRBM position paper for a description of the seven principles of responsible research.) Applicable theory and references to papers providing strong precedence for methodological approaches should be included; however, space constraints will not permit a review of the literature.

Conclusion and Managerial Implications

Explain how your work helps advance understanding of your subject and creates new opportunities for practitioners and researchers. The conclusion should answer these questions: How might your findings and interpretations affect and alter strategies, behavior, and practices in companies? What are the limitations of your study, and what aspects of your topic need further study? What is the next step for practitioners and researchers?


All text citations should be fully listed as references at the end of the paper. Follow the reference style used by the academic journals in your discipline.

File Submission

Dissertation proposal summaries should be submitted via separate pdf files:

  1. Title page
  2. Abstract
  3. Main proposal with references, tables, figures, and appendices – 12-point font, double-spaced, left-justified, 1-inch margins, numbered pages (limited to 20 pages total excluding the title page and abstract).
  4. An introductory letter from the student’s advisor confirming that the proposed dissertation research is no more than 50% complete.


Proposals must be submitted via B4BWDissertation[at]colostate.edu by May 31, 2021 (11:59 p.m. Mountain Standard Time).


The review process will be managed by an interdisciplinary team of business faculty at Colorado State University’s College of Business. Proposals will be reviewed via a double-blind process by experienced scholars.

Funding decisions will be announced by July 9, 2021. Winners will present their proposals during a workshop on Friday, September 17, 2021.


Please contact competition co-chairs Samantha Conroy (samanatha.conroy[at]colostate.edu) and Kelly Martin (kelly.martin[at]colostate.edu