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Research interests

Dr. Thomas Bauwens is an Assistant Professor researching collective action for sustainability at Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University.

Thomas studies the organizational and institutional conditions that foster effective collective solutions to the social, economic or environmental grand challenges of our times, such as global warming and the circular economy transition. He combines insights from institutional economics and sociology as well as economic geography to create novel theoretical frameworks and empirical insights. Through his work on renewable energy communities, circular economy start-ups, and other bottom-up sustainability initiatives, he has advanced the understanding of their upscaling processes and their roles in fostering societal support for sustainable innovations. Furthermore, he has contributed to uncovering the pivotal role of community governance, alongside market and state institutions, in tackling sustainability transformations.

He was recently awarded a €1.5m Starting Grant from the European Research Council for the ambitious, five-year research project "SCENSUS" ("Scaling the Societal Impact of Community Enterprises for Sustainability"). In this project, by studying different forms of community enterprises in multiple countries, Thomas and his team aim to build an interdisciplinary theory of the mechanisms through which community enterprises can transform our economy to tackle urgent sustainability challenges.

Before joining RSM, Thomas worked in the Utrecht University’s Copernicus Institute of Sustainable Development, where he led research and taught on circular economy, energy communities and sustainability transitions. Before that, he was a researcher at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne and at Oxford University. He holds a PhD in Economics and Management from HEC Management School, University of Liege, Belgium, and a MSc in Economics from the Economic School of Louvain, University of Louvain, Belgium.

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 7 - Affordable and Clean Energy
  • SDG 11 - Sustainable Cities and Communities
  • SDG 12 - Responsible Consumption and Production
  • SDG 13 - Climate Action
  • SDG 16 - Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions


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Collaborations and top research areas from the last five years

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