Meet the cbsCSR PhDs: Erin Leitheiser

Erin Leitheiser is a Ph.D. fellow in corporate sustainability and governance. Erin was awarded the Fonnesbechs PHD Prize on Friday 24 November. In the light of this, Erin was asked a few questions about her work and she ended up pursuing a PhD at the cbsCSR center.


Erin Leitheiser has been awarded the Fonnesbechs PHD Prize 2017 which will co-finance a 4th year of her Ph.D. studies. The prize is awarded to a PHD scholar at CBS whom has delivered extraordinary research which is estimated to be on an international top level. Erin’s third year of her Ph.D. studies ends in February 2018 but with the award she will hand-in her Ph.D. project latest February 2019. Her project explores the impact of the varying voluntary self-governance efforts in the textile and fashion industries and analyses how two different alliances of companies, NGO’s and trade unions understand and subsequently enact responsibility. “The aim is to understand the potential and limitations of private governance as a mechanism to address social sustainability problems in global supply chains by exploring how variations in structure and agency affect outcomes and impacts”, tells Erin about the aim of her Ph.D. thesis. 

Erin’s academic interests are affected by her background and prior work in CSR at a U.S. Fortune-50 company, and before that, as a public policy consultant specializing in public/private and self-governance initiatives. Erin earned her MSc in Public Policy from the London School of Economics and Political Science.

“What really sparked my interests in private governance was how my company dealt with the collapse of the Rana Plaza factory in Bangladesh.  It represented a turning point for Western companies operating in Asia and seeing how my company responded eventually became the basis of my PhD research”, Erin tells about her way in to the academic interests of private goverannce.

Pulling up her roots to study CSR

Erin applied for the PhD project at CBS for many reasons. First of all she was interested in working with Professor Jeremy Moon who shares many of the same research interests. Further Erin tells “Scandinavia does CSR better than any other part of the world and the cbsCSR center has a great reputation. Both the culture and context really fitted me and my family.” Erin therefore chose to pull up her roots in the United States to study CSR in Denmark. Erin’s Ph.D. is privately funded by the VILLUM Foundation as part of the VELUX Endowed Chair in Corporate Sustainability.

Asked how she experiences working at cbsCSR, Erin expressed that the center has a great environment and that the smart and engaged researchers who are passionate about their work motivates her. 

The page was last edited by: Centre for Sustainability // 10/08/2019