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A PhD position at Urban Economics, Wageningen University:

We have a PhD position available within the large Horizon 2020 Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions International Training Network "Smart-BEEjS Project".Do you want …

12 maanden geleden


Droevendaalsesteeg, Wageningen, Gelderland
Tijdelijk contract / Tijdelijke opdracht
Uren per week:
40 - 40 uur


We have a PhD position available within the large Horizon 2020 Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions International Training Network "Smart-BEEjS Project".

Do you want to participate in an effort to better understand the behavioral, economic and social aspects of the energy transition? Are you able to combine fundamental behavioral research with more applied field studies? Are you looking for a research challenge that can make a difference, within a very international setting?

The chairgroup Urban Economics at Wageningen University is looking for a PhD student to carry out a research project on "Human-Centric Energy Districts: Behavioral Drivers and Barriers (ESR3)":

The success of any innovation in the energy domain, such as transitions to positive energy districts critically depends on human decision making. Such innovation by definition involves change, and such change involves many psychological processes that can help or hinder such transitions. In the case of positive energy districts, one of the major changes is a change in the levels of interdependency between agents. The decentralization involved with positive energy districts will, ironically, likely increase the complexity of the relationships between agents, not only physically (these new energy networks will involve complex linkages between many smaller suppliers and customers), but even more so in a psychological sense. A transition to a positive energy district, for example, will require participants to change their networks of trust, and will decrease the distances between suppliers and customers: Your supplier may be your neighbor rather than some distant energy company.

In the current project we will investigate the behavioral drivers and barriers that help and hinder these transitions. We will use interviews, surveys, choice experiments and scenario experiments in which we investigate how behavioral factors such as interdependence, fairness and trust, need for autonomy, environmental attitude, financial considerations and social factors (such as norms and status) play a role in decisions regarding participation in positive energy districts for different subgroups.

In our project we plan to collaborate with organizations within Amsterdam (such as the Amsterdam Institute for Advanced Metropolitan Solutions, City Council, local developers, housing associations, the Innovation Lighthouse, Energy suppliers, etc.) and other cities to identify areas of interest for studying the effects of this increasing interdependence. We will do this a) in areas where such a transition has already taken place, b) in areas where such a transition is happening or going to happen, and c) areas where such a transition is not on the table (yet).

We also aim to study different segments of the population (i.e. groups that differ in in their level of motivation to be part of the energy transition) and their perceptions, to try to be able to predict differences in the likelihood that transitions will be successful between groups and possible ways for addressing issues that may occur once less motivated groups are asked to make the transition. The project will be supervised by Michel Handgraaf and Eveline van Leeuwen.


Please note the mobility requirements for the position:
Conditions of international mobility of researchers: You are required to undertake trans-national mobility (i.e. move from one country to another) when taking up the appointment. You must not have resided or carried out your main activity (e.g. work, studies) in the country where you have been recruited (the Netherlands, in this case) "for more than 12 months in the 3 years immediately before your recruitment date". Holidays are not counted. Your employer is required to verify this fact, therefore you may be required to provide supporting documentation proving your place(s) of residence or work during the previous 3 years. Note that the mobility rule applies only to your first recruitment within the project, and not to other organisations to which you might be sent on secondment. Finally, the mobility rule is related to your residence and not to your nationality.

We ask

  • For this project we seek a candidate with a Master's degree in a field related to Social Psychology, Economic Psychology, Behavioral Economics or Environmental Psychology
  • The candidate should have a keen interest in both fundamental research and the application of behavioral theories to practice.
  • He/she should be familiar with (field) experimental research and/or surveys, and preferably have a background in quantitative research methods.
  • The candidate should be motivated to carry out scientifically and societally impactful research.
  • The candidate should be strong team player willing to contribute to the wider interests of the group.
  • The candidate should be able to cooperate with other researchers, Master's and Bachelor students, and stakeholders to execute the research in lab and field.
  • Fluency in English and good communication and organization skills are essential.


For PhD's applies a fixed salary from a minimum of € 2.325 in the first year for a full working week of 38 hours in accordance with the Collective Labor Agreement Dutch Universities (scale P). Every year the increase of salary happens according to the Collective Labor Agreement Dutch Universities.

In addition, we offer:
  • 8% holiday allowance;
  • a structural year-end bonus of 8.3%;
  • excellent training opportunities and secondary employment conditions;
  • flexible working hours and holidays can possibly be determined in consultation so that an optimal balance between work and private life is possible;
  • excellent pension plan through ABP;
  • 232 vacation hours, the option to purchase extra and good supplementary leave schemes;
  • a flexible working time: the possibility to work a maximum of 2 hours per week extra and thereby to build up extra leave;
  • a choice model to put together part of your employment conditions yourself, such as a bicycle plan;
  • a lively workplace where you can easily make contacts and where many activities take place on the Wageningen Campus. A place where education, research and business are represented;
  • use the sports facilities on campus
Wageningen University & Research stimulates internal career opportunities and mobility with an internal recruitment policy. There are ample opportunities for own initiative in a learning environment. We offer a versatile job in an international environment with varied activities in a pleasant and open working atmosphere.

Additional information

For more information about this function, please contact Michel Handgraaf, Associate Professor at UEC by email at; michel.handgraaf@wur.nl.

General information about the Urban Economics chairgroup can be found on https://www.wur.nl/https//www.wur.nl/uec/Urban-Economics-2.htm

Ideally, we are looking for a candidate that can start in October 2019, so they can participate in the intitial international meetings, but this is not a hard requirement.
We are looking for the right candidate therefore we have no deadline and plan an interview if your application matches the picture. So if you are enthusiastic about the vacancy, please apply!

The Context of the project:
As part of the Horizon2020, Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions, Innovative Training Networks the Smart-BEEjS Human-Centric Energy Districts: Smart Value Generation by Building Efficiency and Energy Justice for Sustainable Living project has been awarded. The project allows all researchers to participate in an exciting programme comprising international schools, workshops, and secondments at academic as well as non-academic partners, commencing 2019/2020. By the end of the programme, you will have the skills required to be transformative and influential champions and leaders of tomorrow, promoting Positive Energy Districts (PEDs) and Energy Justice for all citizens.

Smart-BEEjS is a consortium of 8 universities and research centres, supported by 16 non-academic entities, in the United Kingdom, Italy, Portugal, Austria, the Netherlands, Germany, Spain and Switzerland. Each of the 15 PhD researchers will be working towards a unique PhD degree, supported by a carefully chosen supervisory team that maximises scientific excellence as well as interdisciplinary and inter-sectoral collaboration.