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Best PhD thesis for Business School graduate at international conference

13 Dec 2016

A University of Sydney Business School graduate has become the first Australian ever to win the prestigious Gunnar Hedlund award for best PhD thesis.

Dr Jacqueline Mees-Buss was announced as the joint winner of the Gunnar Hedlund award at the annual conference of the European International Business Academy (EIBA), held in Vienna last week.

Previous winners have come from European or North American universities, including Harvard University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Stockholm School of Economics and Leeds University.

“I’m particularly honoured to receive this award because the jury is asked to look for intellectual boldness, creativity and originality,” said Dr Mees-Buss. “These are definitely the values I was striving for in my research. Professor Gunnar Hedlund, in whose memory the award was established, exemplified this approach to scholarship and I have always had great respect for his work.”

Dr Mees-Buss’ PhD thesis explored how Unilever responded to the challenge of greater corporate social responsibility, while simultaneously addressing competitive pressures in a globalising economy. Titled ‘Multinationals in Transition: Unilever’s Response to the Demand for Corporate Social Responsibility in a Changing World’, her thesis was an in-depth analysis of Unilever, one of the largest multinationals in the world.

The study tracks the evolution of the social mission of one of Unilever’s best known and most globalised brands, Dove, in the period from 2001 to 2011.

“During this time, Unilever itself was transformed,” Dr Mees-Buss said. “My thesis argued that thoroughly understanding this transformation is critical to the future of global prosperity in which large corporations such as Unilever play a pivotal role.”

In announcing the award, the Stockholm School of Economics described the thesis as an “outstanding, highly original piece of work” that is a “well-crafted, interesting re-conceptualisation of the multinational corporation (MNC)”, featuring “a critical, self-reflexive writing style”.

Dr Mees-Buss commented, “I hope my work can stimulate fresh thinking about the MNC, and about the way we go about researching it.”

Associate Professor Catherine Welch was Dr Mees-Buss’ primary supervisor and Professor Sid Gray, her associate supervisor.

About the Gunnar Hedlund award:

The Gunnar Hedlund award is administered by the Stockholm School of Economics in collaboration with EIBA and invites submissions from around the world. Finalists for the award have their theses read and evaluated by a jury of prominent scholars. Finalists are also funded to attend EIBA’s annual conference in order to present their work.

The award, which includes a €10,000 prize, is granted to the work that in the opinion of the jury has the greatest potential to have an impact on the field of international business in the future.