12 July 2019

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Further info can be obtained from Prof. Dr. Bert D’Espallier ( and Dr. Frédéric Dufays (
For more information on the ‘Kenniscentrum voor Coöperatief Ondernemen’, please consult

To apply, prepare your CV, a short motivation letter, and proof of academic credentials.

Selected candidates will be invited for a job interview.

You can apply for this job no later than September 10, 2019 via the online application tool.

KU Leuven seeks to foster an environment where all talents can flourish, regardless of gender, age, cultural background, nationality or impairments. If you have any questions relating to accessibility or support, please contact us at

Apply before 10 September 2019

This research project aims to study whether ‘platform cooperatives’ can provide an alternative to ‘platform capitalist companies’ in the growing digital community-based economy.


Prof. Dr. Bert D’Espallier
Dr. Frédéric Dufays

Essays on cooperative business models

Project proposal:
Cooperative enterprises are member-owned and democratically controlled organizations that operate primarily outside of the traditional profit-to-capital owners’ model. Because of their specific governance-model, they are typically value-driven and therefore foster the transition towards a more sustainable economy. This research project aims to study whether ‘platform cooperatives’ can provide an alternative to ‘platform capitalist companies’ in the growing digital community-based economy. Specifically, we take a ‘sustainable finance’-perspective and analyze to what extent and under what conditions the ‘platform cooperative model’ is able to alleviate social, environmental and/or governance externalities inherent to ‘winner-takes-all’ digital economy. Besides this focus on digital cooperative models other academic papers within the emerging field of ‘sustainable finance’ will be developed. Possible research topics include the study of cooperative banks and/or cooperative microfinance institutions.

You will enroll in the PhD-programme Business Economics. You will contribute to a broad FWO-SBO project on governance of cooperatives shouldered by the Faculty of Economics and Business in collaboration with Saint-Mary’s University’s Sobey Business School, Halifax, Canada. The research will be conducted under the supervision of Dr. Bert D’Espallier (Department of Accounting, Finance and Insurance) and Dr. Frédéric Dufays (Department of Work and Organization Studies) in the framework of the Centre of Expertise for Cooperative Entrepreneurship (Kenniscentrum voor Coöperatief Ondernemen, KCO in short).

Your job will consist of the following main activities:

  • Conducting academic research on cooperative business models and sustainable finance.
  • Writing up academic papers with the aim of composing a PhD-dissertation and publishing in high-quality academic journals.
  • Active participation in international conferences and dissemination of research results.
  • Completing the PhD-programme in Business Economics of the Faculty of Economics and Business, KU Leuven.
  • Assistance in project-writing, teaching-assistance and supervision of a limited number of master theses.
  • You have a strong interest and/or affinity with cooperative business models, social entrepreneurship and financial sustainability.
  • You have obtained a Master’s degree in Economics, Business Engineering, Applied Economics or related discipline, and/or have a background in finance.
  • Having obtained excellent (‘honors’-level) results in prior studies is a prerequisite and students holding a Research Master are also encouraged to apply.
  • Having good skills in applied quantitative and qualitative research methods, applied econometrics and expertise in statistical software is considered a plus.
  • Have affinity and/or prior experience with conducting academic research is considered a plus.
  • Fluency in spoken and written English and good presentation skills are a prerequisite.
  • You qualify for enrollment in the doctoral programme of ‘Business Economics’ of FEB KU Leuven according to the prerequisites specified at:

We offer employment as a full-time doctoral researcher starting between October 1st 2019 and January 1st 2020 for a period of 4 years pending positive yearly evaluations.