Business and Economics

PhD defences Faculty of Business and Economics

Forthcoming PhD defences and past PhD defences in the archive

Forthcoming PhD defences

18 June 2024 - Lize Borms (Department of Engineering Management)

Lize Borms

  • Tuesday 18 June 2024 at 4.00 pm
  • Supervisors: Steven Van Passel, Jan Brusselaers & Maarten Christis
  • The defence will take place at the Promotion Room - Klooster van de Grauwzusters (Building S)
    University of Antwerp, Stadscampus,
    Lange Sint-Annastraat 7, 2000 Antwerp
  • Please contact Lize Borms (lize.borms@uantwerpen.be) to inform her whether you wish to attend the PhD defence before Friday 14 June 2024


Out with jobs and in with skills: measuring current circular jobs and analyzing future necessary skills

This dissertation explores the labor market transition in Belgium and Flanders from a linear economic model to a circular economy, focusing on sustainable materials management and its contribution to broader sustainable development goals. It explores new ways to monitor circular jobs and skills, the effects of circular economy strategies on skills, and an impact assessment of the COVID-19 crisis on the circular companies and their employees. Using Natural Language Processing, a General Equilibrium model and a Skills Extension Tool, an attempt is made to quantify circular activities and jobs in Belgium and analyze the impact of circular economy policy measures on jobs and skills. Regression analyses investigate the relationship between circular strategies and skills requirements among startups in Flanders, focusing on transport and logistics, research and development, IT, and technical skills. Lastly, the regression analyses also examine the resilience of companies in Flanders during the COVID-19 crisis in relation to their circularity level. The dissertation underscores the importance of proactive policy measures to support companies in building resilience, and to support employees and educational institutions to acquire the necessary skills, especially during times of crisis.

19 June 2024 - Bassam Istanbouli (Department of Management Information Systems)

Bassam Istanbouli

  • Wednesday 19 June 2024 at 4.00 pm
  • Supervisor: Jan Verelst
  • The defence will take place at the F. De Tassis Room - Hof van Liere
    University of Antwerp, Stadscampus,
    Prinsstraat 13, 2000 Antwerp
  • Please contact Bassam Istanbouli (bassam.istanbouli@student.uantwerpen.be) to inform him whether you wish to attend the PhD defence before Friday 14 June 2024

Towards the application of Normalized Systems Theory to the domain of Supply Chain Management

The goal of this research is to investigate the relevance of the modularization and normalization concepts in the design of products or supply chain processes, as this concept has the potential to contain these ripple effects and enable change in supply chains. More specifically, we draw upon Normalized Systems Theory, developed at the University of Antwerp, as a basis for studying normalization. This theory has initially been developed in context of dealing with change in software architectures, but has subsequently been applied to modular structures in domains such as BPMN business processes, accounting information systems and documents. This is the first research in which this theory is applied to the domain of supply chain management. This thesis is written mainly for engineers and process designers at the management and control layer of the organization. Its aim is to increase awareness that at one point of time their initially designed product will change as well as their manufacturing processes. Those changes will have substantial impacts, possibly causing ripple effects across the whole organization.


21 June 2024 - Jo Mentens (Department of Accountancy and Finance)

Jo Mentens

  • Friday 21 June 2024 at 4.00 pm
  • Supervisor: Kris Hardies
  • The defence will take place at the F. De Tassis Room - Hof van Liere
    University of Antwerp, Stadscampus,
    Prinsstraat 13, 2000 Antwerp
  • Please contact Jo Mentens (jo.mentens@uantwerpen.be) to inform him whether you wish to attend the PhD defence before Tuesday 18 June 2024

Beyond the Financial: How Visualisations, Language, and Temporal Distance Shape Investor Decisions

This dissertation explores the influences of visualisations, language, and temporal distance on investor decision-making within an increasingly information-rich and globalised corporate reporting landscape. It examines how these elements, beyond traditional financial metrics, impact investors’ cognitive and emotional responses, providing insights into their decision-making processes. Through three experimental studies, this work contributes to the field of behavioural accounting by illustrating how various aspects of corporate disclosures affect investor behaviour.
The findings across the studies consistently reveal that how information is presented—through visualisations, language, and temporal framing—significantly shape investor responses. Specifically, the first study shows that visualisations increased investment willingness, largely through enhanced processing fluency rather than improved comprehension, highlighting the affective impact of presentation style. The second study demonstrates that processing environmental, social, and governance disclosures in a foreign language generally led to less emotional and more analytical evaluations, thereby moderating emotional influences in investment decisions. In the third study, matching short-term environmental goals with desirability framing significantly improved investors’ perceptions of corporate credibility, suggesting that appropriate narrative framing can effectively align with investors’ cognitive orientations to influence their investment decisions.
This research makes significant academic contributions by applying psychological theories in an accounting context, thus bridging a gap between these fields, and offering new perspectives on investor behaviour. It underscores the need for accounting standards and practices to consider not only the content but also the format and presentation of information, thereby enhancing transparency and investor engagement in financial markets.

24 June 2024 - Michell Queiroz (Department of Engineering Management)

Michell Queiroz

  • Monday 24 June 2024 at 2.00 pm
  • Supervisor: Kenneth Sörensen
  • The defence will take place at the lecturehall at the Winkelhaak
    Lange Winkelhaakstraat 26
    2060 Antwerpen
  • Please contact Michell Queiroz (michell.queiroz@uantwerpen.be) to inform him whether you wish to attend the PhD defence before Thursday 20 June 2024

From instance generation to parallel computing: insights on implementing an on-demand transportation system

On-demand public transportation operates without fixed routes and schedules, dynamically adjusting to passenger-provided information about locations and destinations. These systems address the limitations of traditional public transportation, which often has limited coverage and inefficient vehicle use during off-peak hours, leading to resource waste and infrequent services. By contrast, on-demand transportation adapts more flexibly, reducing inconveniences such as prolonged waiting times and overcrowded vehicles.
In this thesis, we focus on the optimization aspect of an on-demand public transportation system. To investigate optimization problems, it is crucial to simulate real-world scenarios, known as instances. One of the primary contributions of this thesis is the introduction of REQreate, a tool designed to generate realistic instances for on-demand transportation problems. We also address the Heterogeneous On-Demand Bus Routing Problem (H-ODBRP), aiming to minimize total user ride time by using a metaheuristic based on the Simulated Annealing framework. Finally, we introduce a parallel approach for large-scale H-ODBRP scenarios, demonstrating superior efficiency and solution quality compared to sequential algorithms.

27 June 2024 - Jonas Vandennieuwenhuysen (Department of Accountancy and Finance)

Jonas Vandennieuwenhuysen

  • Thursday 27 June 2024 at 4.30 pm
  • Supervisors: Kris Hardies & Marie-Laure Vandenhaute
  • The defence will take place at the F. De Tassis Room - Hof van Liere
    University of Antwerp, Stadscampus,
    Prinsstraat 13, 2000 Antwerp
  • Please contact Jonas Vandennieuwenhuysen (jonas.vandennieuwenhuysen@uantwerpen.be) to inform him whether you wish to attend the PhD defence before Monday 24 June 2024

The Auditor Selection Process: Institutional and Interpersonal Dynamics

Every audit engagement once started with an audit client selecting an auditor. Despite the auditor selection process being a crucial mechanism for ensuring auditor independence and enhancing audit quality, an understanding of how companies select an auditor was lacking before this dissertation. This dissertation investigates the auditor selection process employing a multi-methodological approach. The study synthesizes existing literature, analyzes archival data to explore audit partner-client alignment, and conducts qualitative research on eight large Dutch companies' auditor selection processes. This study reveals the importance of audit partner-client alignment when studying audit quality, auditor tenure, and auditor changes. Moreover, the findings indicate that despite regulatory efforts to standardize the selection process and enhance transparency, audit clients continue to prioritize relational factors over formal criteria. Additionally, the intended reduction of managerial influence on the selection process appears to be unsuccessful, as management remains significantly involved in every step of the process. Finally, this study highlights the importance of trust, cooperation, and commitment in auditor-client relationships, demonstrating how audit clients demand these qualities and how auditors strive to meet these expectations throughout the selection process. It suggests that mandatory audit firm rotation may introduce relational costs and reduce client-specific knowledge. These insights underscore the need for a balanced approach to regulation that considers both independence and relational dynamics. The dissertation offers insights for regulators, audit clients, and auditors and identifies avenues for future research on auditor selection behaviors and their implications.

1 July 2024 - Charlotte Fabri (Department of Engineering Management)

Charlotte Fabri

  • Monday 1 July 2024 at 4.00 pm
  • Supervisor: Steven Van Passel
  • The defence will take place at the Promotion Room - Klooster van de Grauwzusters,
    University of Antwerp, Stadscampus,
    Lange Sint-Annastraat 7, 2000 Antwerp
  • Please contact Charlotte Fabri (charlotte.fabri@uantwerpen.be) to inform her whether you wish to attend the PhD defence before Wednesday 26 June 2024


Climate Challenges in European Agriculture: Assessing Economic Impacts and Adaptive Strategies

This doctoral dissertation explores the diverse relation between climate change and European agriculture through four interconnected papers. The first study investigates the role of heatwaves, in addition to average climate change, on agricultural productivity in Europe using the widely used Ricardian model. The second paper delves into the ability of this approach in estimating robust climate coefficients, assessing its susceptibility to omitted variable bias. Moving on to adaptation strategies, the third study focuses on Italian farmers, analysing their response to climate change by examining shifts in their irrigation technology mix. Finally, the fourth chapter explores the effectiveness of crop diversification as an adaptation measure in Italy, considering its influence on both income and income risk in the face of increasing weather shocks. Altogether, this dissertation provides a comprehensive understanding of climate change impacts on agriculture, evaluates modelling approaches, and explores adaptive measures adopted by farmers.

13 September 2024 - Sofie Goethals (Department of Engineering Management)

Sofie Goethals

  • Friday 13 September 2024 at 5.00 pm
  • Supervisor: David Martens & Kenneth Sörensen
  • The defence will take place at the Promotion Room - Klooster van de Grauwzusters,
    University of Antwerp, Stadscampus,
    Lange Sint-Annastraat 7, 2000 Antwerp
  • Please contact Sofie Goethals (sofie.goethals@uantwerpen.be) to inform her whether you wish to attend the PhD defence before Tuesday 10 September 2024

Explaining prediction models to address ethical issues in business and society


Past PhD defences 2024

Analysis of deep geothermal energy development under uncertainty: An integrated geo-techno-economic and environmental assessment - Spiros Gkousis (15/05/2024)

Spiros Gkousis

  • Wednesday 15 May 2024 at 4.30 pm
  • Supervisors: Tine Compernolle & Kris Welkenhuysen

Analysis of deep geothermal energy development under uncertainty: An integrated geo-techno-economic and environmental assessment

This dissertation examines the economic and environmental sustainability of deep geothermal heating investments in Northern Belgium. It follows a comprehensive approach by integrating life cycle assessment, techno-economic assessment, and real options analysis to explore the economic and environmental performance of deep geothermal heating investments under uncertainty. The dissertation provides significant insights on the economic and environmental feasibility of exploiting deep geothermal energy in Northern Belgium. It also highlights ways to improve the performance of the investment. This study contributes to the better understanding of the sustainability of deep geothermal heating investments and the strategies that can improve their performance. It also presents novel methodological frameworks that can be adopted for investigating and assessing the sustainability of other systems and technologies.

Corporate narratives and textual analysis: Perspectives on top management’s language use in financial and sustainability reporting - Anil Berkin (16/04/2024)

Anil Berkin

  • Tuesday 16 April 2024 at 4:30 p.m.
  • Supervisors: Walter Aerts & Tom Van Caneghem

Corporate narratives and textual analysis: Perspectives on top management’s language use in financial and sustainability reporting

The dissertation investigates top management’s language use in financial and sustainability reporting, offering insightful perspectives and methodological innovations. It delves into differences in language use in distinct disclosure genres influenced by audience projection and communicative purpose, and the role of visibility in rhetorical impression management in sustainability reporting. By exploring these dimensions, the dissertation sheds light on how companies navigate communication challenges, adapt to regional level institutional settings and employ strategic approaches to shape perceptions and manage stakeholder relationships.
Furthermore, the dissertation introduces feasibility of employing machine learning methods for attributional content and framing analysis in corporate reporting, highlighting the potential in enhancing narrative disclosure analysis. Collectively, these findings contribute to a deeper understanding of corporate communication practices and pave the way for future research endeavors in the field.

Navigating Through Turbulence: Investigating Individual Characteristics, Well-being, and Career Outcomes in the Face of Career Shocks - Dima Braiteh (19/03/2024)

Dima Braiteh

  • Tuesday 19 March 2024 at 9.30 am
  • Supervisor: Ans De Vos

Navigating Through Turbulence: Investigating Individual Characteristics, Well-being, and Career Outcomes in the Face of Career Shocks

Our thesis delved into the complex landscape of career changes, introducing the 'Career Shock' concept. This term encapsulates significant, unexpected events triggered by external factors, prompting individuals to reevaluate their career trajectories. At the heart of our investigation is an in-depth analysis of how unforeseen changes affect individual well-being and career outcomes. We emphasize the crucial role of personal characteristics and resources in navigating these shocks, with adaptability as a central element in our analytical framework.
Initially, our research explored the impact of individual traits, extending beyond the Big Five personality dimensions, on the capacity to adapt to abrupt changes. We focused specifically on the contributions of self-monitoring and self-efficacy to adaptability, aiming to expand the existing discourse on personal adaptability in the face of change.
The study then narrows its scope to assess the effects of career shocks on individual well-being, particularly highlighting the context of an economic-financial crisis in the banking sector. This section elucidates career shocks' positive and negative impacts, further examining how personal characteristics moderate the effect on well-being.
In the final phase, our investigation deepened to assess the effect of negative career shocks on specific career outcomes, such as engagement and the experience of regret. This study transitioned the focus from individual adaptability to career adaptability, endeavoring to elucidate the mediating function of career adaptability in the interplay between career shocks and the respective career outcomes.
Conclusively, our thesis sought to illuminate career development in times of instability, proposing strategies for individuals confronted with career shocks and adapting to evolving contexts. It underscored the practical significance for both practitioners and scholars, delineating methods to foster adaptability and engagement amidst career shocks, thereby making a substantial contribution to the domains of organizational and career studies.

Metaheuristics for the school bus routing problem - Mohammadsaeid Fallahniasar (14/03/2024)

Mohammadsaeid Fallahniasar

  • Thursday 14 March 2024 at 12:30 p.m.
  • Supervisors: Kenneth Sörensen & Seyed Mehdi Sajadifar

Metaheuristics for the school bus routing problem

This thesis focusses on a special part of the supply chain that is relevant to the student transportation problem. Considering previous studies, it appears that addressing emergent issues such as increased traffic load, high student population, lack of resources, safety, and risks can play a substantial role in designing an efficient plan for the student transportation system. The significance of this issue is highlighted when we take into account the needs and expectations of all stakeholders, including students, the private sector, and municipalities. In this regard, this dissertation considers a number of realistic and innovative characteristics for the school bus routing problem (SBRP). In doing so, two main trajectories have been followed. First, the existing gap and concerns in the literature and real life are considered to extract a new model-based variant of SBRP characteristics.
Second, an attempt is made to construct proper metaheuristic algorithms (solution approaches) to efficiently solve the problems identified in the first phase. To put it more clearly, in the first trajectory, we consider different problem features and propose new model and problem for SBRP, and in the second trajectory, we design and construct a metaheuristic approach germane to the defined problem. To do so, there are challenges that must be addressed concerning how to design an appropriate metaheuristic that corresponds to the specific type of problem and makes a trade-off between computing time and solution quality as well as a trade-off between intensification and diversification.
Following the above phases entails two advantages. It helps the decision-maker in urban planning to adopt the right course of action and presents alternatives in choosing the appropriate solution approach. In the first and second chapters of this thesis, the existing school bus routing problems along with different kinds of solution approaches are discussed, while in chapters three to five a new model and, correspondingly, new metaheuristics are presented. In other words, the first two chapters we present new solution approaches for the existing current problem, and in the remaining chapters we explore and attempt at a new model as well as solution approaches.
Briefly, regarding the solution approach, we have considered the strategic oscillation (searching between feasible and infeasible parts of the solution space), different large neighborhood search algorithms (presenting different kinds of removal and insertion heuristics), neighborhood selection mechanisms, and a number of diversification strategies.
We have also developed new mathematical models for SBRP that consider mixed-load effect, transporting morning and afternoon students, and the existing risks of student transportation. Further analyses are also executed to address real life concerns.

On dedicated anti-cybercrime mailboxes within financial institutions - Tyché Perkisas (16/02/2024)

Tyché Perkisas

  • Friday 16 February 2024 at 4.00 pm
  • Supervisors: Johan Braet & Wim Mees


On dedicated anti-cybercrime mailboxes within financial institutions


The world is currently living in the Information Age. Technological advances driving digitalization and digitization have been adopted by the larger part of society and have been progressively becoming the norm. This adoption process was further accelerated by the strings of lock-downs and quarantines, which pushed this technology from accepted to - in some cases - necessary. However, as with all new technology, there will be those that exploit it to enrich themselves illegally. The global annual costs caused by cybercrime have been on the rise for years, reaching over $ 6 trillion USD at the end of 2023. Institutions providing critical infrastructure therefore need to mitigate the risks of providing their services within this technological framework, both for themselves as well as for their clients. One such mitigation is the use of a dedicated anti-cybercrime mailbox: a single point of contact for both internal as external parties for all matters cybercrime related.
This work considers the content of a such a dedicated anti-cybercrime mailbox (DACM) within a Belgian financial institution. Its aim is the prioritization of the service requests, both internal and external, that reach this mailbox in order to reduce the damages caused by illegitimate e-mails. This prioritization is based on predicted damage potential, for which we provide a model. This dissertation outlines a methodology to characterize and quantify the evolution of such a DACM. We conclude the DACM has a unique composition and can be clustered into distinct e-mail types for which a prioritization can be proposed based on their characteristics and content.


​ The Role of Audit Firm Network Complexity, Audit Offices, and Partners In Explaining Audit Outcomes - Maysam Ayoub (19/01/2024)

Maysam Ayoub

  • Friday 19 January 2024 4.00 pm
  • Supervisor:  Kris Hardies



The Role of Audit Firm Network Complexity, Audit Offices, and Partners In Explaining Audit Outcomes 


The dissertation comprises three distinct empirical studies investigating the influence of audit firms, offices, and partners on audit outcomes. Based on data from sixteen European countries, I examine if audit firms can maintain consistency across their engagements, that is, across the offices and partners within their network.
In the first study, I examine if financial statement comparability is greater if clients have the same audit firm and if this relationship is moderated by audit firm network complexity – which depends on audit firm’s size and geographic dispersion. In the second study, I explore if financial reporting quality is affected by within-firm office changes and if audit firms’ geographic dispersion moderates this relationship. In the third study, I examine the relative importance of audit partners vis-à-vis audit offices and firms in explaining audit outcomes.
Overall, the results of these three studies provide much weaker evidence than prior research on the effects of audit firms, offices, and partners on audit outcomes such as financial statement comparability, financial reporting quality, and auditors’ going concern reporting.  

Does repeated change paradoxically undermine organizational adaptability? Essays on the impact of repeated organizational change on public organizations' capacity to adapt. - Stéphanie Verlinden (17/01/2024​)

Stéphanie Verlinden

  • Wednesday 17 January 2024 4.00 pm
  • Supervisor: Jan Wynen,  Koen Verhoest & Bjorn Kleizen


Does repeated change paradoxically undermine organizational adaptability? Essays on the impact of repeated organizational change on public organizations' capacity to adapt.

Climate change, globalized terrorism, disruptive technologies, and the COVID-19 pandemic have presented governments with unprecedented, fast-evolving challenges requiring rapid response and adaptation. Consequently, public organizations have been implementing changes at an increasing pace as they attempt to keep up. At the same time, civil servants must develop new skills centered on adaptability and flexibility. However, evidence from the field suggests that civil servants find it increasingly difficult to cope with a highly turbulent work environment in which change is nearly constant. Many are feeling overwhelmed by too many organizational changes occurring in a row. While public organizations often implement changes in pursuit of more adaptability, the question thus arises whether repeated change paradoxically undermines their capacity to adapt. 

This dissertation seeks to answer this question by examining the effects of repeated change – as it is perceived by civil servants- on their levels of role clarity, autonomy, and proactive behavior at work. In doing so, this research examines whether there is evidence of a threat-rigidity response, characterized by a constriction of control and restriction in information processing.  

Results show that the more changes civil servants experienced, the less clear they were about their role at work, the less individual autonomy they perceived, and the less proactively they behaved at work. These results offer empirical support for the cognitive and behavioral inflexibility characteristic of a threat-rigidity response. Finding that repeated change causes civil servants to respond with rigidity rather than the required flexibility; this dissertation concludes that repeated change paradoxically undermines public organizations’ capacity to adapt. In addition, the finding that chronic stress in civil servants distorts their perceptions of the frequency of change offers important implications for public sector change management. It indicates that change management strategies based on objective accounts of change may be tailored to a reality that does not align with the reality of change as civil servants experience it.