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PhD position global industry dynamics of onsite water technologies


Eawag, the Swiss Federal Institute of Aquatic Science and Technology, is an internationally networked aquatic research institute within the ETH Domain (Swiss Federal Institutes of Technology). Eawag conducts research, education and expert consulting to achieve the dual goals of meeting direct human needs for water and maintaining the function and integrity of aquatic ecosystems.


The PhD student will work at the Innovation Studies group (Cirus) at Eawag under the supervision of Prof. Bernhard Truffer and Prof. Heiko Gebauer. The PhD student will formally be enrolled at Utrecht University (the Netherlands), where she/he will be able to profit from the research environments of the innovation studies section, as well as the economic geography group. The position is fully funded through a four year Swiss National Science Foundation’s research grant. The duration of the position will be four years with a preferred start in January 2018 at the latest.
Research at Cirus focuses on several aspects of environmental innovation and sustainability transitions mostly in the energy and urban water sector. A particular emphasis is on the geography of transitions, i.e. the how environmental innovations and transition processes play out in specific places and across scale. The PhD thesis is part and parcel of the integrated research project Comix (Challenges and Opportunities of Modular water Infrastructures for Greening the Swiss Economy) within the recently started Swiss National Research Program NRP73 Sustainable Swiss Economy. The PhD project is furthermore part of a larger inter- and transdisciplinary research program WINGS (water innovations with no grids) at Eawag.
Conceptually, the PhD student will work at the crossroads of literatures on sustainability transitions, technological innovation systems, management of innovation and the geography of innovation. The empirical part will focus on global industry dynamics in the field of onsite water technologies, potentially leading to more sustainable outlines of current urban water infrastructures. Particular focus will be set on whether and how a lead market strategy could be made operational in a context like Switzerland. Interactions with major companies active in this field are part of the research. In the Comix context, the PhD student will collaborate with a second PhD student working at ETH Zürich on prospective urban water governance structures and with experts from a Swiss consultancy elaborating cost-benefit assessments of alternative transition scenarios.


We are looking for a PhD student interested in conceptual work on innovation, industry dynamics and transition studies. He or she should be able and willing to conduct in-depth, qualitative research in the field of onsite water technologies. Experience with patent analysis will be considered an asset but is not necessary. Candidates should hold a master’s degree in innovation studies, economic geography, management studies or related fields. Fluency in English (spoken and written) is required, skills in a second language (either French or German) are an asset. The thesis will consist of a collection of four peer reviewed articles.


The deadline for applications is 6 October 2017. Applications should include a cover letter, CV, a writing sample (e.g., a published article, chapter from MA thesis, seminar paper) and the names and affiliations of three references. Please send your application through this webpage, any other way of applying will not be considered. Please click on the button below, this will take you directly to the application form.