Pre-doctoral researcher in Corporate sustainability reporting University of Antwerp, Faculty of Applied Economics Belgium

Pre-doctoral researcher, Corporate sustainability reporting 


The Faculty of Applied Economics of the University of Antwerp has a full-time position (m/f):


Pre-doctoral researcher in corporate sustainability reporting


The research position is funded by a project grant of the Research Foundation Flanders (FWO). Candidates finalizing a PhD program may also be considered.


Short project description


Sustainability reports are discretionary vehicles to signal firms’ sustainability performance to external


constituents. Motives for their provision vary (from signaling the firm's sustainability track record to opportunistically managing perceived legitimacy on the sustainability front). Central to these motives is public perception management. A firm may resort to rhetorical impression management (IM)to strengthen the persuasiveness of its reporting in order to increase benefits of perceived sustainability efforts. The effectiveness of such rhetorical IM hinges, however, on the credibility of the messages conveyed. External assurance, institutionalized reporting formats, stakeholder engagement and internal governance structures may play a central role in establishing external credibility. Within this context the following research questions will be investigated: (1)Which rhetorical profiles prevail in sustainability reports and how do they function from a pragmatic IM perspective?, (2)How does IM interact with underlying sustainability performance, while controlling for other determinants of sustainability reporting?,(3)Is IM, sustainability performance and their interaction attenuated or incentivized by specific monitoring mechanisms?, and (4)Whether and to what extent do these interdependencies affect perceptions of financial stakeholders and of more broadly based institutional intermediaries?


Job description:


The applicant is expected to conduct research in the field of corporate sustainability reporting in an international setting with a focus on impression management. The research will be carried out in close collaboration with Prof. Walter Aerts and Prof. Tom Van Caneghem at the University of Antwerp. For a pre-doctoral candidate, the candidate is expected to enroll the university's Ph.D. program and to obtain a Ph.D. at the end of the project.


Profile and requirements:

  • You hold a Master Degree in Economics, Business Economics,  or equivalent.

  • You can submit outstanding academic results.

  • You have an extensive background in accounting, corporate governance and management, including good statistical and research skills and an excellent command of the English language.

  • A strong research orientation is a prerequisite. Experience in computational linguistics or data mining techniques would be a comparative advantage.


We offer:

  • a two-years PhD position (with periodic evaluation), extendible with another one to two years after positive evaluation;

  • a stimulating working environment in a lively cosmopolitan city.


How to apply?

  • Applications may only be submitted online.The position is open until filled with a final deadline of June 1, 2018.

  • A pre-selection will be made from amongst the submitted applications. The remainder of the selection procedure is specific to the position and will be determined by the selection panel.

  • More information about the application form can be obtained at

  • For questions about the profile and the description of duties, please contact Prof. Walter Aerts (University of Antwerp) at


The University of Antwerp is a family friendly organization, with a focus on equal opportunities and diversity. Our HR-policy for researchers was awarded by the European Commission with the quality label HR Excellence in research.


We support the Science4Refugees initiative and encourage asylum-seeking, refugee scientists and researchers to apply for a job at the University of Antwerp.

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