Civic Innovation PhD supervision

Civic Innovation staff and your PhD

dr. (Sylvia) SI Bergh

I welcome PhD projects that deal with local (rural) governance issues such as participatory development programs in a decentralising context, state-society relations and public service provision at the local level, as well as social accountability issues, especially in the Middle East and North Africa region, including in the context of the ‘Arab Spring’. I also welcome projects researching gender questions and local development, such as gender-responsive budgeting initiatives.

dr. (Erhard) GE Berner

I am supervising research in the broad field of urban development, poverty and social protection. In the context of Civic Innovation, I welcome PhD projects concerned with slum dwellers’ struggles for shelter, livelihoods and empowerment, and in particular the poor’s micro-enterprises.

(Kristen) KE Cheney

I welcome PhD supervisions to do with children, adolescents, and youth in development, particularly those dealing with the political economy of childhood, child protection, and sexual and reproductive health. I am also keen to guide PhD candidates in participatory methods and co-production of knowledge with young people. Finally, I am interested in working with PhD candidates researching ARTs and reproductive justice issues. 

dr. (Georgina) GM Gomez

I am fascinated by the diversity of forms of organizing local economic schemes. My interests focus on patterns of collaboration and competition around the configuration of money, markets and enterprises. My research covers complementary currency systems, local markets, local production systems and social economy organisations. I consider these are niches for learning-by-doing and experimenting with alternative economic activities that may later expand or contest the capitalist system at large. I approach these topics from a historical and institutional perspective, because I consider institutions are the most essential brick in the structuring of socio- economic life.

I welcome PhD projects that deal with organization and transformation of exchange systems at the local level, particularly money, markets, and new forms of entrepreneurship. It may include topics on market-making, like creating a complementary currency, engineering a new local market, re-coordinating a value chain or a local system of production, forming producers' associations, and so on.

prof.dr. (Wendy) W Harcourt

I welcome PhD candidates in the field of feminist engagements in diverse social justice movements, explorations of the nexus among global, feminism ecology and critical development studies.

I have successfully supervised 15 PhD candidates and I am currently supervising 10 PhD projects. The latter concern long term evolutionary studies on local institutions; SMEs and entrepreneurial responsibility; value chain development in post-conflict areas; value chains and (co-)innovation; role of local governments in basic services and in local economic development, role of NGOs and social entrepreneurs in local development.

dr. (Silke) S Heumann

I welcome PhD students interested in doing research on social movements, politics (both state politics as well as everyday politics) and gender and sexuality (i. e. sex work/ migration and ‘trafficking’, sexual and reproductive health and rights, gender-based violence; religion and sexuality).

dr. (Rosalba) RA Icaza Garza

I very much welcome candidates who are interested in exploring the ways in which social struggles contribute to a continuous questioning of the meaning and practice of ‘international development’.

I welcome PhD proposals on the developmental implications of private sector activities, such as: value chain analysis and private governance, role of social standards and codes of conduct; fair trade, ethical trade, and Corporate Social Responsibility; frugal innovation; new middle class consumers in the Global South; informal sector entrepreneurs, survival business and graduation.

dr. (Lee) LJ Pegler

I have supervised, co-supervised and examined PhD candidates on themes such as CSR (1), Labour in Global Value Chains (2) and enterprise learning (1). I could do likewise on such themes and those noted in 2) above again. More broadly, I could be called on for most themes with a focus on labour, skills, capability and work issues, value chains, representation and human (in)security.

Topically, I welcome PhD supervisions that aim to understand how precarious workers challenge and change the social, economic and political structures that marginalize labour. Methodologically, I encourage PhD students to conduct research jointly with actors who have a direct stake in progressive social change. This is based on the assumption that academia can make an important societal contribution, especially if the ways in which knowledge itself is produced embody alternatives to the status quo. Geographically, the focus of my work has been South Asia, Pakistan in particular.

I welcome PhD proposals in the broad area of heterodox economics and developing countries. In particular, I welcome PhD proposals that plan to work with the data available in the free online database Indices of Social Development (

PhD testimonies

  • Kannokkarn Kai Tevapitak, Thailand (started in 2008)

    My thesis aims to answer the research questions: where, when, why and how stakeholders’ environmental influences make an impact on polluting firms and where, when, why and how polluting firms respond to these environmental influences based on their environmental conditions. My research presents the case study of 31 Thai polluting entrepreneurs located in three main locations: city (Bangkok), peri-urban area (Chachengsao, Nakornpathom and Ayudhaya) and rural area (Nakornratchaseema). The thesis shows how the underlying factors of relevant stakeholders such as local government, local community, business association and advocacy NGOs, make an impact on firm’s environmental improvement.

  • Holly Alexandra Ritchie, UK (started in 2009)

    Contributing to the forefront of institutional theory, my thesis explores nuanced institutional phenomena in enterprise, towards unwrapping the interaction of actors and structure in economic development. My field research has specifically examined the transformation of women’s purdah, and the construction of new market institutions in women’s enterprise in the context of Afghanistan. The research highlights the emergence of dominant entrepreneurs with significant implications for broader economic growth and development. Emphasizing an inter-disciplinary approach, I have a strong interest in socio-cultural institutions in fragile environments, institutional innovation, and social/economic change. I am currently an active member of the IS Academy on Human Security in Fragile States, led by Disaster Studies at Wageningen University, The Netherlands.

  • Wilson Enzama, Uganda (started in 2011)

    In processes of post-war recovery, returnees face prolonged market and coordination failures due to breakdown of market institutions and high transaction costs and risks. Value chain approach has recently been adopted by development actors in early recovery processes to accelerate reconstruction of markets for smallholder producers. With the use of cotton and oilseeds value chains in northern Uganda, a region emerging from civil war, I examine how the value chain approach is applied; testing its strengths, and weaknesses in market development and constraints actors face in using the approach. It’s premised on the argument that with strategic coordination, the value chain as actor-oriented process can stimulate establishment of trust and peaceful coexistence among actors which is healthy for sustainable peace building in post-war environment, while in the long-run moving small producers from low-return activities to high-return markets through long-term market nexus. The research stresses the importance of identifying local initiatives of small producers in accessing markets on which external assistance can be grafted.

  • Bayu Wijayanto, Indonesia (started in 2012)

    The aim of my research is to explore relationship between modern retailer, food standard and small producer through the case study on FFV commodities in Indonesia. Since the supermarket revolution in the 1990s in some developing countries, modern retailers have been growing rapidly and has been attracted FDI enormously. Moreover, their high economic growth enable them trading with each other, which is spearheaded by modern retailers. However, the rise of modern retailers is more likely not simultaneously involving small producer in their chains. My research within Civic Innovation investigates power shifting in the global economy, especially on retail sectors in developing countries with the case study of Indonesia. This study will explore behavioural dynamics of small producer agency to engage in modern retail chain and will try to capture the dynamics of power contestation in food standards and influence their relationship with small producers.

  •  Lenka Sobotova, Czech Republic (started in 2013)

    Informality and urban poverty have become the main focus throughout my studies, work and research. Based on my previous research experience in Indian informal settlements, I believe that access to secure housing is the key pre-condition to overcoming the poverty and misery of the urban poor. Security of tenure entitles the low-income residents to public services, information and legal protection. Thus, informality is the entry point of my PhD research, particularly in the context of Indian cities. Overall, my aim is to investigate social cohesion in informal urban settlements in Ahmedabad, India, with emphasis on secure housing and housing-related assets and to investigate conditions and factors of dwellers’ action to cope with their insecurity and vulnerability.