PhD Supervision Collective for Sustainable Product Innovation

  • Boks, Casper (Project Manager)
  • McAloone, Tim C. (Project Participant)
  • Baumann, Henrikke (Project Participant)
  • Bey, Niki (Project Participant)
  • Jalas, Mikko (Project Participant)
  • Plepys, Andrius (Project Participant)
  • Lindahl, Mattias (Project Participant)

    Project Details


    Sustainable Product Innovation (SPI) is a young but rapidly expanding research field, especially in the areas of environmental product assessment and design for environment. It has evolved from end-of-life focused approaches towards prevention through cleaner production and eco-design. In industry too a number of pro-active companies changed their controlling and complying posture in the direction towards a more preventive and strategic attitudes on environmental issues. The emphasis on environmental issues thereby shifted over the years from a more technical approach towards more organisational aspects of sustainable design.

    Whereas in recent years, the balance between ecological and economical considerations have been subject of research, a growing attention for social matters has resulted in this becoming a third component of what is now understood to be design for sustainability. Thus, sustainable product design is product development in which the three aspects of the ‘triple bottom line’ -- the economical, environmental and societal sides of design (or profit, planet and people) -- are increasingly taken into account.

    The first academic scholars that, in the mid 1990s, earned their PhD degrees in this field were often supervised by professors without any academic upbringing in this field. Generally, these professors had backgrounds in traditional technical, natural science or social disciplines, in either academia or industry. This also meant that these pioneers did their research in the context of a variety of disciplines and scientific environments, without the ability to rely on a common research culture, norms, methodologies, a large body of previous research, or even a network.

    In many ways, research in sustainable product innovation in the period 1992-2002 was of a grounded and explorative nature. The scholars who earned their PhD degrees in this field five to ten years ago, are today’s supervisors of PhD research. These people do have the academic background and network in the field, but are often young and relatively unexperienced in supervising PhD students. Regular courses in scientific research and supervision training may offer tools to develop general PhD research supervision skills, but likely, such skills are to benefit from systematic consideration of experiences from fellow supervisors.

    This view is strengthened by the fact that, as Sustainable Product Innovation is still a relatively small field and multidisciplinary of nature as well, academic activities in these fields are often housed in environments that only provide one perspective, such as mechanical engineering, chemical process technology, industrial economics, machine design, product design, industrial ecology, or business management. Therefore PhD candidates as well as their supervisors are often surrounded by only few colleagues (or sometimes none) those meet the same academic challenges, e.g. building further on a research tradition, making use of previous departmental research results, using similar theoretical frameworks and similar networks.
    Effective start/end date01/08/200701/04/2008


    Explore the research topics touched on by this project. These labels are generated based on the underlying awards/grants. Together they form a unique fingerprint.