The fifth ceremony of the International Philippe de Woot Award took place on March, 28 2018 at UCLouvain in Louvain-La- Neuve.
During this ceremony, Kristina Feldt and Judith Klein, both graduated from the Copenhagen Business School, won the award – which rewards a thesis from a university or business school worldwide that constitutes an original contribution to understanding and thinking about Corporate Social Responsibility or sustainable development. They analyzed the potential for improvement of the social conditions in the Ethiopian textile industry. Kristina and Judith received a prize of 3000€ of which half goes to an environmental or a social project. They chose to contribute to the Ethiopian NGO WISE, Organization for Women in Self Employment.
Applications have been examined in two steps:
Among the 46 submitted master’s thesis, the academic jury selected the six following dissertations:
Then, the jury had selected 3 nominees out of the 46 Master’s theses sent by students from 21 countries. Next to 2018’s winners Kristina and Judith, the other nominees were Antony Simonofski (UNamur and KU Leuven) for his reflexion on the citizen participation to the smart cities; and Jeanne Cassiers and Audrey Herbeuval (Louvain School of Management) who studied this question : « Why does consumers buy brands which don’t seem ethical for them ».
To get a better insight about these 3 projects, the 3 nominees have made a small video to explain and better illustrate their goals:
Jeanne CASSIERS and Audrey HERBEUVAL (Louvain School of Management, UCLouvain, Belgium)
“When we started this process, we looked at the society around us and saw a compelling paradox: most consumers while appearing scandalized at CSI, keep on buying the products of the firms responsible for such behaviour. Therefore, we engaged on this journey to understand why consumers, and us first as such, bought products from brands they do not find ethical. Our problem statement then came naturally. We wanted to understand if the perceived irresponsibility of a brand lead to ambivalent feelings and if those feelings influenced the decision process. We also looked at the personal sense of responsibility of customers. In fact, we think it is in part our responsibility to choose who we give money to and wanted to grasp if that notion had an influence or not. By conducting a quantitative survey on Belgian consumers, we got very compelling results. Namely that CSI has a connection with consumer ambivalence, purchase and buying intention. We also found out that the personal sense of responsibility does impact the buying process but is not present enough. Further research on this last subject could be done to find out why it is not more prominent and how to enhance it. We believe that now more than ever, the consumer has a role to play in the pursuit of CSR.”
Kristina FELDT and Judith KLEIN (Copenhagen Business School, Denmark)
“The Ethiopian government vigorously promotes the textile sector, hoping to spur industrialization and social development. This thesis explores how different actors influence social upgrading in the rapidly growing Ethiopian textile industry. To shed light on this uncharted industry, the thesis combines social upgrading theory, global value chain theory, and governance concepts.
To the benefit of social upgrading, the findings suggest that “Measurable Standards” are successfully being improved for Ethiopian textile workers. To the detriment of social upgrading, the findings suggest that “Enabling Rights” of workers are not sufficiently promoted nor effectively enforced.
The thesis concludes that the potential for social upgrading in the Ethiopian textile industry depends on the ability of all industry actors to collectively take responsibility of promoting workers’ Enabling Rights.”
Anthony SIMONOFSKI (UNamur and KULeuven, Belgium)
“In the last few years, smart cities have attracted considerable attention because they are considered a response to the complex challenges that modern cities face. However, smart cities often do not optimally reach their objectives if the citizens, the end-users, are not involved in their design. The aim of this thesis is to provide a framework to structure and evaluate citizen participation in smart cities.
By means of a literature review from different research areas, the relevant enablers of citizen participation are summarized and bundled in the proposed framework. Then, following the design science methodology, the framework is validated through the application to different smart cities and through in-depth interviews with key Belgian smart city stakeholders. The framework is then used as an evaluation tool for several Belgian smart cities allowing drawbacks and flaws in citizens’ participation to be discovered and analysed. It is also demonstrated how the framework can act as a governance tool for the ongoing smart city design of Namur (Belgium) to help define the citizen participation strategy. Finally, it is used as a comparison and creativity tool to compare several cities and design new means of participation.”
Any graduate student from a university or business school with a Master’s degree whose dissertation deals with CSR or sustainable development can apply for this award.
This year, the ceremony took on a very specific dimension owing to the passing away, in September 2016, of Professor Philippe de Woot, who was considered to be a « sage » in economics as much as the pioneer of Corporate Social Responsibility in Belgium.
Just before the ceremony, the Louvain School of Management paid tribute to him by inaugurating the Philippe de Woot lecture hall, in the presence of his relatives, the University chancellor, Vincent Blondel, the Human Sciences sector vice-chancellor, Jacques Grégoire, and the LSM Dean, Michel de Wolf. Lecture Hall Doyen 21 has been entirely refurbished and decorated with a work of art by Chloé Coomans, « the seven valleys », which represent birds, one of Philippe de Woot’s interests.
This did not prevent the ceremony from being turned towards tomorrow, with the presence of Cyril Dion in keynote speaker who had for reflection «What must we do now to change things tomorrow?». Cyril Dion is the author and co-producer of the documentary film “DeMAIN”
with Mélanie Laurent. DeMAIN won the Cesar award for Best Documentary in 2016 and has been seen by over one million people in France. It is now released in over 30 countries and cited by
many French people as the trigger for a new kind of engagement in the coming years.