oikos Young Scholars Energy Academy 2014

Overcoming Path Dependence in Energy Investment, Policy & Decision-Making

St. Gallen, Switzerland, 7-10 April 2014

The world needs to embark on the road from 20:80 to 80:20. Today’s share of more than 80 % of non-renewable energy is not sustainable. Governments in some countries, such as Germany and Switzerland, have fundamentally revised their energy strategy, aiming at increasing energy efficiency and renewables to reduce carbon and nuclear risk and reliance on energy imports. The drivers for those policy changes are economic as much as they are environmental – a majority of lawmakers in both countries appear to subscribe to the idea put forward by academics like former World Bank Chief Economist Sir Nicholas Stern that investment in a low-carbon future will lead to lower cost to society than continuing on the current path. On a global scale, though, this view still faces headwind. Economists, industry associations and politicians voice concerns about the short-term cost of adjusting our energy system and potential challenges for current lifestyles. Some doubt the evidence of climate science altogether. The paradigm change from 150 years of carbon-based growth to a post-non-renewable era leaves ample room for societal contestation.

If we accept the idea that avoiding climate and nuclear risk is beneficial in the long run, how can societies, firms and consumers change track? How can “investment-grade” policies be designed to efficiently and effectively govern the transition towards renewables? How can policies and investment strategies be adapted as renewables move from niche to mainstream market? How can decision-makers in companies overcome the challenges of path dependence? Is the global financial crisis a curse or a blessing in this endeavour? What distinguishes decision-makers who see opportunities in a clean energy future from those who perceive it as a threat to future wealth, and how do their attitudes and values influence their behaviour? Is the accelerating evidence of the climate crisis going to accentuate polarisation, and if yes, what are the implications for building successful transition strategies? Which end-of life strategies can be identified to smoothen the late non-renewable era, and which counter-dynamics are likely to occur?

Building on a 10 year tradition of international academies in the field of Sustainability, Strategy and Entrepreneurship, the oikos Young Scholars Energy Academy 2014 provides an intense 4-days academic platform for identifying and advancing relevant and rigorous research. PhD students and young faculty are encouraged to share their thoughts and conceptual ideas from various perspectives covering both theoretical and empirical contributions on the intersection of Decision Sciences, Policy, Finance, Management, Entrepreneurship, Innovation, and beyond. To support synergies between academic researchers and practitioners, we include a high level exchange with energy practitioners during the academy.

Project Partners

Logo Uni. St. GallenWashington Louise Logooikoslogo_new_colourcorrect_01_89cbf05a88


The oikos Young Scholars Energy Academy aims to

  • build an entrepreneurially-minded academic network promoting conceptual solutions for the move towards sustainable energy systems;
  • provide a leading global platform to advance relevant research on social science energy research;
  • support ambitious PhDs’ and young scholars’ research activities by  improving existing research designs;
    • support scholars in their skills to publish in leading international journals;
  • strengthen co-operation between academics, the private sector, NGOs and policy makers;
  • generate unique findings on innovating, financing, managing and scaling entrepreneurial initiatives driving the energy transition.

The academy will gather 15 carefully selected international PhD students and young faculty focusing on energy investment, policy and decision-making with three senior faculty members. The academy is also designed to strengthen a global network of young researchers who aim at combining academic rigor with practical relevance.



PhD students and young faculty in the following areas are invited to submit papers or elaborated research proposals:

  • Business models for clean energy innovation and diffusion
  • The role of regulatory innovation for clean technology diffusion
  • Energy entrepreneurship and venture capital
  • Institutional investment in clean energy assets
  • Renewable energy policy analysis
  • Organizational culture and change in the energy industry
  • Strategies for systemic change
  • Patterns of transformation in carbon intense industries

The four-day intensive programme will include the following elements:

Opening and Topic Presentations (Day 1)

Presentations by senior faculty on research and research designs, finding an audience, getting published and developing teaching skills. These presentations and interactive discussion sessions provide participants with a strong basis and understanding of how to develop solid research projects that have an impact.

Practitioner Evening Session (Day 1)

In a panel discussion, forward-thinking practitioners from the energy policy and finance community reflect on their view of current challenges, inspiring young researchers to consider how their work can best be framed to increase their societal impact.

Paper Sessions (Day 2, 3, 4)

Paper presentations and feedback sessions allow PhD students and young faculty to present their paper and research proposals and receive feedback from fellow participants and senior faculty. The goal is to raise the academic quality of the research projects and papers and prepare them for publication in leading journals. The papers are distributed to the participants a month prior to the academy.


Varda Liberman, IDC Herzliya, Israel


Prof. Liberman is one of the founders of the IDC (Interdisciplinary Center) and served as the Vice Dean of The Arison School of Business. She is the head of the Judgment and Decision Making area and the director of the Mathematical and Statistical studies at the IDC. Prof. Liberman, who holds a Ph.D. in Mathematics, served as an associate researcher at the Institute for Advanced Studies of the Hebrew University and at Stanford University where she continues to serve as a visiting researcher every summer. Her research interest deals with probabilistic judgments and decision making in which she co-authored the book Critical Thinking with the late Amos Tversky. Her work, which is published in the leading journals of the field, deals with the sources of bias in the estimates and inferences people make about outcomes and events; and with real world implications of departures from normativeness in judgment and decision-making in a wide range of personal, social and political context. As an expert in decision making, Prof. Liberman gives lectures and executive training courses for Israeli organizations such as investment banks, hi-tech companies, hospitals and the judicial system.

More info here:

Itai Sened, Washington University in St. Louis, USA

itaisenedpictureA typical product of the Rochester Ph.D. program of the late 1980’s, Itai Sened is currently Professor of the Department of Political Science at Washington University in St. Louis. His main interests are theory of institutions, game theory and applied mathematical modeling. His book The Political Institution of Property Rights, was published by Cambridge University Press in 1997. His second book, Political Bargaining: Theory, Process and Practice with Gideon Doron was published in 2001 by Sage Publications. His third book, Multiparty Parliaments, with Norman Schofield is forthcoming with Cambridge University Press. He is the co-editor, with Jack Knight, of Explaining Social Institutions from The University of Michigan Press (1995, now in a paperback new edition). He has also published articles in The American Journal of Political Science, The Journal of Politics, The Journal of Theoretical Politics and numerous other refereed journals as well as different edited volumes. He is currently working on several different projects, most notably two: (1) A book manuscript entitled Uncovering Politics: Political Bargaining and Majority Rule?s Principle Constraint, with William T. Bianco and (2) A series of articles on development and economic growth in transition democracies.

More info here:

Rolf Wüstenhagen, University of St. Gallen, School of Management, Switzerland

Rolf Wüstenhagen-color

Prof. Dr. Rolf Wüstenhagen is a Director of the Institute for Economy and the Environment (IWÖ-HSG) and holds the Good Energies Chair for Management of Renewable Energies at the University of St. Gallen.

He graduated in Management Science and Engineering (TU Berlin) and holds a PhD in Business. In 2005, 2008 and 2011 respectively, he held visiting faculty positions at University of British Columbia (Vancouver), Copenhagen Business School, and National University Singapore.

His research on decision making under uncertainty by energy investors, consumers and entrepreneurs has been published in academic journals globally. His 2007 article on Social Acceptance of Renewable Energy Innovation (with M. Wolsink and M.J. Bürer) is currently the most downloaded article in Energy Policy. In 2012, he published “The Price of Policy Risk” (with S. Lüthi) in Energy Economics, a novel choice experimental approach to measuring solar energy investors’ willingness to accept policy risks. Dr. Wüstenhagen’s research has been covered by international media (e.g. New York Times Online, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, NHK Japanese National Television, Inc. Magazine).

Prior to his academic career, he has worked in the energy venture capital industry. From 2008-2011 he served as a lead author for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) on the Special Report on renewable energy sources and climate change mitigation. Since 2011, he is a member of the advisory board for the Swiss government’s energy strategy 2050.

Professor Wüstenhagen is the Academic Director of the University of St. Gallen’s Executive Education Programme on Renewable Energy Management (REM-HSG).

More info here:


Andrea Tabi, University of St. Gallen

IMG_6867Andrea Tabi

Research Fellow, University of St. Gallen, Switzerland

Andrea has currently started her research in social acceptance of renewables at the Institute of Economy and the Environment at the University of St. Gallen. Her research focuses on choice modeling regarding the hydropower expansion in Switzerland. She investigates the economic, environmental, and social impacts of the expansion of hydropower production projected by the Swiss Energy Strategy 2050, as well as the economic trade-offs and preferences of Swiss population for the alternative hydropower expansion scenarios.  She earned an MSc degree in Economics and Management and also a BSc degree in Biology.

Anna Ebers, State University of New York

Picture_EbersAnna Ebers

PhD Candidate, State University of New York, USA

“Policy Interactions and Effectiveness in Forest Bioenergy Sector in the United States” 

Anna Ebers is a PhD candidate and a Fulbright scholar who studies renewable energy economics at State University of New York, College of Environmental Science and Forestry in Syracuse, NY. Her current research examines impacts of forest bioenergy policy on new electricity-generating projects in the USA. Being passionate about rural development, she also researchers financing opportunities for solar panels to be installed in off-grid locations in Mexico. Anna is a founder of a non-for-profit project SunRaisers, which works with these remote communities. Anna has an undergraduate degree from Tartu University in Estonia and a Masters degree in international economics from Konstanz University in Germany, where she studied as a DAAD scholar. She is passionate about social entrepreneurship, healthy food, and the great outdoors.

Christine Shearer, University of California

Christine_CES_oikosChristine Shearer

Postdoctoral scholar, University of California, USA

“An expert elicitation of high penetration renewable energy in the US electricity sector”

Christine Shearer, PhD, is a postdoctoral scholar in Earth Systems Science
at the University of California in Irvine. Her research focuses on
environmental sociology, particularly climate change and energy. Her work
has appeared in academic and media publications including Climatic Change
and the NY Times, and she is author of Kivalina: A Climate Change Story
(Haymarket Books, 2011).

Francesca Ciulli, Amsterdam Business School

Ciulli photoFrancesca Ciulli

PhD candidate, Amsterdam Business School, Netherlands

“Multiple institutional logics in the fields of electric decarbonization in France, Germany, Italy, Spain and UK “

I am currently a PhD student in international business at the Amsterdam Business School (ABS) and my PhD research focuses on multinationals, institutions and sustainability in the EU energy sector. Sustainability issues are often addressed by governments in diverse ways across countries and in different time periods. I am particularly interested in investigating, through comparative and longitudinal studies, institutional complexity and change around sustainability issues and how multinational energy firms respond to them.

Prior to joining ABS, I worked as a teaching assistant in international strategy at the University of Nêuchatel, and as a trainee at the Directorate-General for Development and relations with ACP countries of the European Commission, at the Italian Mission to the WTO and in the private sector.

I hold a MSc in Marketing Management from Bocconi University and a Bachelor degree in Business Administration from Bologna University and I studied, in the framework of exchange programmes, at Reims Management School and HEC Montréal.

Ingrid Johansson Mignon, Linköping University

Ingrid MignonIngrid Johansson Mignon

PhD Candidate, Linköping University, Sweden

“Firms’ responses to environmental policies – a cross-industry analysis”

I am currently in my 3rd year of PhD studies within the field of innovation management and entrepreneurship. My research topic focuses on the new entrants of the renewable electricity production and in particular, the motives that drove them to start this new activity and the adoption process that they go through when entering the production.

In addition to doing research, I am also teaching corporate management and project management to engineering students at Linköping University.

Before starting my PhD, I worked for 7 years with the management of cooperation projects for the development of health care and education programs between Sweden and developing countries.

I was born and raised in France where I took a BS in Applied Foreign Languages. 11 years ago, I moved to Sweden to take a MS in Business Administration and I have lived there since then. During my free time, I love travelling to existing scuba-diving destinations with my husband and I also spend a lot of time designing and working on our new-built house in the Swedish countryside.

Mary Jean Bürer, EPFL

MJ Burer photo March 2014

Mary Jean Bürer

Research Fellow, EPFL, Switzerland 

“E-mobility innovation: the influence of organizational architecture on innovation ecosystems”


Mary Jean earned her doctorate degree in Economics at the University of St. Gallen (UNISG) in Switzerland. Her doctoral thesis work was about the influence of climate and energy policy on private equity finance in the clean energy sector. She also earned a Masters of Engineering (M.E.) degree in Manufacturing Engineering for Advanced Transportation Systems from the University of California, Los Angeles. 
She has 15 years of work experience and expertise in the field of climate policy and energy technologies in particular. She has worked for various UN agencies such as UNEP, UNCTAD, and the IPCC; several research institutions such as EPFL, UNISG, Imperial College and LBNL; as well as various NGOs, government agencies and companies, including a start-up firm in the area of low carbon energy technology. Mary Jean recently returned to EPFL to work as a Research Fellow under the Chair of Corporate Strategy and Innovation at the College of Management of Technology on a SCCER CREST project on Architectural Design Choices and the Impact on Innovation Ecosystems in the Energy Field with a focus on smart grids and e-mobility

Thomas Bauwens, University of Liege

Thomas bauwens-pictureThomas Bauwens

 PhD candidate, University of Liege

“Environmental Collective Action: The Case of Renewable Energy Cooperatives”

Thomas Bauwens is a PhD candidate in economics at the Centre for Social Economy, HEC Management School of the University of Liege. He holds an MSc in economics from the Catholic University of Louvain. His current research project focuses on the effects of cooperative ownership on consumer participation in the diffusion and operation of distributed generation technologies. He is also a member of the EMES International Research Network on the Third Sector and Social Enterprises. He has been involved as a researcher in the “RESCOOP 20-20-20 project”, supported by the Intelligent Energy Europe Program (European Commission). From May 2014, he will be visiting the Environmental Change Institute (University of Oxford) for a one-year research stay and join the Energy Research Programme.

His main research interest lies in the theory of collective action, which refers to any activities that require the coordination of efforts by two or more individuals. In the spirit of Elinor Ostrom’s legacy, he seeks to understand the conditions conducive to the creation of local self-organized solutions to social, economic or environmental challenges. His approach is multidisciplinary, combining public economics with insights from behavioral economics, social psychology and systems theory.

He previously conducted a research project in Santiago de Chile about the socio-economic practices of popular economy organizations, i.e. informal organizations created by individuals to collectively ensure their subsistence and satisfy their economic needs.

Besides doing research, Thomas enjoys travelling, playing music, painting and running.

Tillmann Lang, ETH Zürich

HUB tillmann_langTillmann Lang

PhD candidate, ETH Zürich 

“Pathways of firm capabilities in policy-induced market transitions – the case of German solar photovoltaic power”

Tillmann is a researcher and doctoral candidate at the Sustainability and Technology Group at ETH Zürich. His work is motivated by his interest in potential pathways towards a low-carbon economy grounded in his ambition to contribute towards minimizing the environmental impacts of our lifestyles and economic activity. In his research, Tillmann studies the role of policy and firm strategy in industry transitions. He investigates the questions of how policy-driven clean tech industries can transition into self-sustainability and policy-independence, and which strategies allow firms to successfully drive such industry evolutions. In his examinations, Tillmann focuses on the solar photovoltaic industry.

Tillmann holds a Diploma in Mathematics and Computer Science and studied at Ruprecht-Karls-Universität Heidelberg (Germany) and Universidad de Chile (Santiago, Chile). He was a junior researcher at the Interdisciplinary Center for Scientific Computing (IWR) Heidelberg, where he worked on modeling and optimization of dynamic systems.

Tillmann is a senior consultant with McKinsey & Company, where he is currently on sabbatical to concentrate on his research at ETH Zürich. In his consulting projects he worked on topics of sustainability and research productivity in various industries, including the public sector, energy, re-insurance and aviation. In addition, Tillmann gained practical experience at IBM, SAP and KPMG.

In his free time, Tillmann likes spending time with his guitar or outside mountaineering, ski-touring, or mountain-biking.

Tyson Weaver , Norwegian University of Science and Technology

tysonTyson Weaver

PhD Candidate, Norwegian University of Science and Technology

“Development pathways of energy system incumbents”

As an empirically driven researcher, Tyson investigates strategies to increase deployment of renewable energy technologies in the power sector at the firm level. His focus has primarily been placed on independent power producers in the hydropower and offshore wind markets, with former emphasis on internationalization. He is currently engaged into underpinning broader sustainability transition dynamics throughout the value chain across diverging energy sectors in Norway.

He is a 3rd year PhD student of the Department of Industrial Economics and Technology Management and a member of the Centre for Sustainable Energy Studies, a Norwegian national research centre that finds solutions for non-technical barriers in pursuing sustainable energy systems. In addition to his scientific contributions Tyson also teaches a course on energy systems and energy production technology at the bachelor’s level.

Tyson has previously worn a number of different professional hats, from business development and project finance consulting, to real estate development, and marketing wind power green certificates. He holds a MSc in Renewable Energy and Corporate Environmental Management from the University of Jyväskylä (Finland) and a BSc in Finance and Investments from Northern Arizona University (USA). Outside office hours you will find Tyson hiking up mountains both summer and winter, engaged in various food projects on the farm, or off on the next grand adventure to explore the endless bounties offered through travel. His published works can be accessed at here.

Yuliya Karneyeva, University of St. Gallen

Yuliya_PhotoYuliya Karneyeva

PhD candidate, University of St. Gallen 

“Path Dependence in Belarusian Energy Governance: Implications for Renewable Energy Development”

Yuliya Karneyeva is a PhD student in International Affairs (DIA) at the University of St. Gallen.  She is doing her research at the Institute for Economy and the Environment (IWOE). Her research focuses on renewable energy development in Eastern Europe.

Yuliya grew up in Belarus. After getting her degree in international trade regulations from Belarusian State University, Yuliya won the Erasmus Mundus scholarship to do Master’s in East European Studies at Bologna University (Italy). During her studies at Bologna University, Yuliya specialised on energy policy topic and wrote her MA thesis about energy policies in Eastern Europe. While doing her research, she went on exchange to Vilnius University (Lithuania) and attended numerous conferences on energy policy there. In order to supplement her knowledge with specialised expertise in renewable energy technologies and policies, she went to do a summer school on renewable energy at the University of Bonn.
Coming from the region, which is highly dependent on energy imports and deeply affected by Chernobyl catastrophe, Yuliya seeks to do research helpful for the development of renewable energy as opposed to other ways of reducing such dependence and avoiding nuclear risks.
In her free time, Yuliya likes to be close to the nature and to do outdoor activities such as snowboarding and hiking.


Participation Fee

Participating young researchers pay a registration fee of 500 CHF. This includes tuition, food and accommodation. Participants will have to cover their own travel cost.


  • Dec. 20, 2013: Publication of Call for Papers
  • January 31, 2014: Application deadline
  • February 15, 2014: Notification of acceptance
  • March 15, 2014: Submission deadline for full papers (10-15 pages)
  • April 7-10, 2014: Academy Sessions (arrival on April 6)