PhD position in 'Co-designed Solutions for Food Value Chain Change'

  • WO
  • Tijdelijk
Wageningen University & Research


Are you willing to contribute to the transition to a healthy, fair and environmentally friendly food system by investigating transparency and traceability to enhance trustworthiness in food value chain? Are you interested in developing tools and strategies to shift away from making, distributing, and promoting unsustainable food options among citizens?
Then we might have the perfect opportunity for you at the Business Management and Organisation Group at Wageningen University & Research!

CUES (Consumers' Understanding of Eating Sustainably) is a European project, aims to drive a vital Triple Change in culture, food chain, and policy for a desirable and reliable sustainable food system. Through co-designed methods, CUES enhances consumer knowledge and behaviour with persuasive cues, involving various stakeholders in nine interventions across Europe, targeting three million consumers for increased sustainable food consumption.

We are looking for a PhD candidate that will scientifically contribute to the field of strategic management, sustainable entrepreneurship and responsible innovation by identify, design, examine and validate communication cues through technological, organisational, and social innovations that are integrated in Business Models of food value chain actors to enable transparency, traceability and trustworthiness in the food value chain.

Specific objectives are to (a) To identify the influence of CUES in BMs for sustainable food choices (b) To co-design the most effective CUES in BMs and re-design transmission and presentation modes towards trust creation and avoidance of greenwashing (c) To evaluate the impact of CUES across the selected value chains that promoted sustainable food choices. The ideal candidate will identify the problems and barriers faced by food supply chain actors and co-design cues for transparency, traceability and trustworthiness of their business models.

Next, the effectiveness of cues will be tested and how effective cues can be scaled up through collaboration and partnerships to create an innovation ecosystem for sustainable business models in food value chain. In line with this task, the candidate will This task will collaborate for establishing a representative Advisory Board of policymakers, public authorities, and other relevant actors and experts from different EU countries that are directly involved in policies on the communication of the sustainability of food products.

The selected candidate will be based at the Business Management and Organisation group (BMO) of Wageningen University and will:
  • be part of a pan-European research project and collaborate with diverse sets of stakeholders and partners;
  • develop and conduct research and strategies related to the objective of the project;
  • participate and present research findings at international conferences, and publish articles in academic journals;
  • provide relevant information for decision support to stakeholders and policy by translating research findings for concrete use.


  • a university degree (MSc) in a discipline relevant to the PhD project, with preference for but not limited to: sustainable business management, strategic management and entrepreneurship, agri-business, food supply chain, and/or food governance, with a proven interest in business and economics;
  • interest, knowledge and experience with qualitative (e.g. interviews, focus groups, co-creation design, design science, literature review). Knowledge of quantitative methods (e.g. surveys and questionnaires) is a plus;
  • excellent academic writing skills and English language proficiency (a minimum of CEFR C1 level). Sometimes it is necessary to submit an internationally recognized Certificate of Proficiency in the English Language. More information can be found here.
  • ability to work independently, as well as in an international interdisciplinary team;
  • good communication skills;
  • good organisational and project management skills;
  • experience with academic journal publication is a plus.

The preferred starting date will be March 2024. The PhD candidate will be supervised by Dr. Shaya Ashouri and Dr. Maral Mahdad


Wageningen University & Research
The mission of Wageningen University & Research is “To explore the potential of nature to improve the quality of life”. Under the banner Wageningen University & Research, Wageningen University and the specialised research institutes of the Wageningen Research Foundation have joined forces in contributing to finding solutions to important questions in the domain of healthy food and living environment.

With its roughly 30 branches, 7,200 employees (6,400 fte) and 13,200 students and over 150.000 participants to WUR’s Life Long Learning, Wageningen University & Research is one of the leading organisations in its domain. The unique Wageningen approach lies in its integrated approach to issues and the collaboration between different disciplines.. An integrated approach to problems and the cooperation between various disciplines are at the heart of Wageningen’s unique approach. WUR has been named Best Employer in the Education category for 2019-2020.

These are the points our employees list as good reasons to come work at WUR: read the 5 reasons to come work at WUR

We will recruit for the vacancy ourselves, so no employment agencies please. However, sharing in your network is appreciated.


Wageningen University & Research offers excellent terms of employment. A few highlights from our Collective Labour Agreement include:
  • partially paid parental leave;
  • working hours that can be discussed and arranged so that they allow for the best possible work-life balance;
  • the option to accrue additional compensation / holiday hours by working more;
  • there is a strong focus on vitality, and you can make use of the sports facilities available on campus for a small fee;
  • a fixed December bonus of 8.3%;
  • excellent pension scheme.

In addition to these first-rate employee benefits, you will receive a fully funded PhD position and you will be offered a course program tailored to your needs and the research team.

The gross salary for the first year is € 2.770 per month in the first year rising to € 3.539,- in the fourth year in according to the Collective Labour Agreements for Dutch Universities (CAO-NU) (scale P). This is based on a full-time working week of 38 hours. We offer a temporary contract for 18 months which will be extended for the duration of the project if you perform well.

There are plenty of options for personal initiative in a learning environment, and we provide excellent training opportunities. We are offering a unique position in an international environment with a pleasant and open working atmosphere.

You are going to work at the greenest and most innovative campus in Holland, and at a university that has been chosen as the “ Best University ” in the Netherlands for the 18th consecutive time.

Coming from abroad
Wageningen University & Research is the university and research centre for life sciences. The themes we deal with are relevant to everyone around the world and Wageningen, therefore, has a large international community and a lot to offer to international employees. Applicants from abroad moving to the Netherlands may qualify for a special tax relief, known as the 30% ruling. Our team of advisors on Dutch immigration procedures will help you with the visa application procedures for yourself and, if applicable, for your family.

Feeling welcome also has everything to do with being well informed. Wageningen University & Research's International Community page contains practical information about what we can do to support international employees and students coming to Wageningen. Furthermore, we can assist you with any additional advice and information about helping your partner to find a job, housing, schooling, and other issues.

Meer informatie

For more information about this position, please contact Dr. Shaya Ashouri, BMO group Wageningen University, by email: shaya.ashouri@wur.nl or

Dr. Maral Mahdad, ITEM department Faculty of industrial engineering and innovation sciences, Technical University of Eindhoven, by email: m.mahdad@tue.nl

For more information about the procedure, please contact Noorien Abbas, Corporate Recruiter, by email: noorien.abbas@wur.nl

Do you want to apply?
You can apply directly by uploading your CV and motivation letter, using the apply button on the vacancy page on our website which will allow us to process your personal information with your approval.

This vacancy will be listed up to and including 14 December 2023. Interviews will be scheduled soon after the closing date.

Equal opportunities
Wageningen University & Research (WUR) employs a large number of people with very different backgrounds and qualities, who inspire and motivate each other. We want every talent to feel at home in our organisation and be offered the same career opportunities. We therefore especially welcome applications from people who are underrepresented at WUR. A good example of how WUR deals with inclusiveness can be read on the page working at WUR with a functional impairment.