Stefan Maas wins the second Philippe de Woot Award

Yesterday, Stefan Maas won the second edition of the Philippe de Woot Award. Stefan Maas, who completed his studies at the University of Antwerp, received this award for his Master’s thesis on 16 February 2012. The winner was selected for its academic quality, relevance to practice, and significant insights into CSR. The choice of ISO 26000 as a point of departure to explore how SMEs can best be guided and supported in their quest for managing the risks and opportunities of sustainability and responsibility is considered very relevant. Stefan Maas succeeded in creating a conceptual sustainability management system for SMEs that also has a strong practical dimension: many of the questions being addressed are finding practical answers which can speak directly to business. The winner received a cash prize of €4,500, of which 1,500 euros will be donated to a Cunina, a Flemish charity organisation focusing on education in Southern countries.

The jury also gave a Special Academic Award to Victoria Jadot for the exceptional academic quality of the work she did during her master’s at Solvay Brussels School of Economics and Management. She conducted an excellent case study of organizational change towards strategic CSR which provides a business case that can stimulate other companies to go through such a change and move towards strategic CSR.

This year the ceremony was organised by Vlerick Business School on behalf of an association of Belgian business schools, including Antwerp Management School, ICHEC Brussels Management School, Facultés Universitaires Saint-Louis, FUNDP Namur, HEC-Ulg, Louvain School of Management and Solvay Brussels School of Economics and Management. With the Philippe de Woot Award the major schools of management in Belgium are striving to create greater awareness around the growing importance of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) in the current social and economic context. As today’s students are tomorrow’s managers and entrepreneurs, the organisers also hope this initiative will stimulate young people to think carefully about the meaning of sustainable business practices.

Nigel Roome and Céline Louche, Professors of Corporate Social Responsibility at Vlerick Business School, comment on the importance of this award:

“Corporate and managerial responsibility has developed in significance as companies operate in new economies, as environmental resources come under more and more pressure, and as we become aware through the financial crisis of the consequences of irresponsible decision-making.

“The Philippe de Woot Award is given to a student who has committed time to research this topic in a Belgian business school. We know that the students of today will be the decision makers and leaders of tomorrow. Although the award is given to only one student, it celebrates the many who have devoted their time and energy to understanding how to act and work in better and more responsible ways. Their knowledge and skills will become increasingly important if we are to meet the challenges of our present system of conducting business with the demands of a growing global population. The award also celebrates the change in thinking and the innovation and creativity needed to accompany change.

“At Vlerick we believe the award can have a direct impact on three main groups: students, present and future academics, and present and future managers. Of course we recognise that many conditions are necessary to create positive outcomes. These include the quality and relevance of what we know, the courage to promote change, and the combined efforts of many. As partners of the award we set out to make sure this happens. We see the Philippe de Woot Award as a contribution to a better world. We are happy and proud to be part of this celebration.”

Short summary of the winning Master’s thesis

2012 Philippe de Woot Award: Stefan Maas

Development of an innovative CSR management system framework: theoretical development and a qualitative assessment in Flanders

The study covers the creation of a conceptual sustainability management system inspired by ISO 26 000. The framework called ‘Sus5’ contains five inherent and consecutive features of sustainability. The framework has been tested empirically on twelve Flemish organizations.

Special Academic Award: Victoria Jadot

Corporate responsibility as a driver of strategic change: the case of Umicore

The general objective of this study is to contribute to the development of theory regarding organizational change towards strategic CSR and the roles and beliefs of change agents in light of this change. The thesis explores the case of Umicore, a company that successfully transformed its business model to embed sustainable development in its strategy.


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