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PhD Defense Hendrik Thelken

When:Th 26-08-2021 11:00 - 13:00

On 26 August 11am, Hendrik Thelken will defend his PhD thesis!

Thinking apart and together: the role of cognition in managing multiple goals in sustainable enterprises

Sustainable entrepreneurs try to solve a sustainability problem with their company. They therefore try to achieve social, environmental and economic goals at the same time. It can be the case that these three goals are not congruent and lead to tensions. For example striving for social goals might reduce profit and vice versa. Such tensions can also lead to personal distress such as frustration or dissonance and can also prevent individuals from founding a sustainable enterprise in the first place. This thesis therefore looked at how sustainable entrepreneurs, as founders of their companies, deal with such tensions, with a focus on the cognitive strategies they use to do so. We find that especially future orientation and personal values (describing what we care about in life) determine whether individuals find it desirable and feasible to start a sustainable enterprise and through that also strengthen the intention to do so. Once they have founded their companies, sustainable entrepreneurs seem to be able to draw on a strong confidence that they will be able to reach their sustainability goals. This strong confidence is partly due to the usage of multiple future oriented strategies such as roadmapping and setting milestones. This seems to help them to keep track of their various goals and find a balance between them."

Key results

  1. How future oriented you are seems to depend on your personality
  2. Future orientation and personal values seem to determine intentions to start a sustainable enterpris
  3. Personal values also help to balance sustainability goals and profit, because they seem to determine how confident individuals are in doing s
  4. It could be interesting for educators to leverage this central role of personal values through activation strategies
  5. Roadmapping and milestone setting exercises seem to be another route, which could help aspiring sustainable entrepreneurs to increase their confidence.

Hendrik Thelken

Hendrik Thelken is originally from Germany. After obtaining his Bachelor degree in International Business Studies at the Friedrich-Alexander Universität in Erlangen-Nürnberg, he moved to Groningen to complete Master degrees in International Business as well as Finance at the Rijksuniversiteit Groningen. During his studies he spend a semester abroad at Aarhus Universitet in Denmark and obtained professional experience during various internships. In February 2017, Hendrik started his PhD project on the role cognition plays in the sustainable entrepreneurial process at Campus Fryslân, Rijksuniversiteit Groningen under supervision of Prof. Gjalt de Jong and Dr. A. Berfu Ünal. During his PhD project he had the chance to present the results of his research at various international conferences and workshops as well as guest lectures and industry events. He also spent three month (September – November 2020) as a visiting researcher at the Management Research Group headed by Prof. Jörn Hoppmann at the Universität Oldenburg in Germany.