Board leaders and carbon neutrality

Board leaders’ decision-making about carbon neutrality: An experimental study

Degree type


Closing date

10 October 2022



Citizenship requirement


About the research project

Across the globe, more and more organisations are making strategic decisions to address the urgent climate crisis. Boards of directors are increasingly responding to stakeholders’ expectations regarding sustainability. This project aims to systematically understand how and why board directors and top management leadership make decisions to ‘go carbon neutral’ and what the motivations are behind the responsible climate choices leaders make.

The University of Tasmania is the leading university in climate action (Times Higher Education Climate Action #1, 2022). Tasmania is the only Australian state to have net zero emissions. This project seeks to apply top management team theory to understand the composition and experience of boards that progress towards carbon neutrality. This includes systematically reviewing the current evidence on carbon neutrality certification, develop an appropriate measure for supporting carbon neutrality strategy, and conduct randomised control trials with existing board leaders on their motivations and challenges of use. This doctoral project is designed to extend on this initial understanding by leveraging the capabilities of the Tasmanian Behavioural Economics Lab to design decision-making experiments.

The significance of this project is in seeking to drive an in-depth understanding of how leaders elected to director roles make decisions to move to carbon neutrality despite the immediate economic and social cost. By doing so, programs that recruit, select, train, and develop board members will be able to draw on experimental knowledge from this study to build more innovative boards that value economically-sound carbon neutral practices.

Primary Supervisor

Meet Dr Leanne Morrison


Applicants will be considered for a Research Training Program (RTP) scholarship or Tasmania Graduate Research Scholarship (TGRS) which, if successful, provides:

  • a living allowance stipend of $28,854 per annum (2022 rate, indexed annually) for 3.5 years
  • a relocation allowance of up to $2,000
  • a tuition fees offset covering the cost of tuition fees for up to four years (domestic applicants only)

If successful, international applicants will receive a University of Tasmania Fees Offset for up to four years.

As part of the application process you may indicate if you do not wish to be considered for scholarship funding.


Applicants should review the Higher Degree by Research minimum entry requirements.

Selection Criteria

The project is competitively assessed and awarded.  Selection is based on academic merit and suitability to the project as determined by the College.

Additional essential selection criteria specific to this project:

  • Evidence of capacity to write academic papers within Scopus or Web of Science indexed journals
  • Existing connections with Tasmanian and Australian Boards of Directors or the social and communication skills required to build such connections
  • Advanced knowledge of quantitative research methods, preferably with some experience in experimental methods
  • A willingness to live in Tasmania (including relocation)

Additional desirable selection criteria specific to this project:

  • Related industry experience (preferably)

Application process

There is a three-step application process:

  1. Select the project, and check you meet the eligibility and selection criteria;
  2. Contact the Primary Supervisor, Dr Leanne Morrison, to discuss your suitability and the projects requirements; and
  3. Submit an application by the closing date listed above.
    • Copy and paste the title of the project from this advertisement into your application. If you don’t correctly do this your application may be rejected.
    • As part of your application you will be required to submit a covering letter, a CV including contact details of two referees and your project research proposal.

Following the application closing date applications will be assessed within the College. Applicants should expect to receive notification of the outcome by email.

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