Montpellier Business School


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October 2023

Chair COAST thesis tackles Regenerative Agricutlure challenges from the managerial perspective

In a significant academic achievement, Wenjun Lai, a dedicated student at Chair COAST, has successfully defended his thesis with honors. Lai’s research has focused on addressing real-world challenges encountered by agri-food companies in their pursuit of sustainability, with a specific emphasis on ‘Regenerative Agriculture’ initiatives within the European landscape.

The findings from Lai’s research shed light on several critical aspects. Notably, the research underscores the paramount importance of intensifying stakeholder engagement, the necessity of establishing comprehensive regulatory frameworks to govern and evaluate sustainability practices, and the imperative to fortify the managerial dimensions within these companies to maximize the outcomes of sustainability initiatives.

Wenjun Lai’s exceptional work stands as a testament to the dedication and innovative spirit of Chair COAST’s student body. We anticipate the dissemination of his insights and accomplishments through various channels, including our COAST chair activities page, as we continue to explore the frontiers of knowledge in agri-food sustainability. Congratulations to Wenjun Lai on this well-deserved accolade !

MBS Chair COAST Presents Key Findings at LEADER Network France Plenary Session

Marija Roglic, from the Montpellier Business School (MBS) Chair COAST, participated at the plenary session of the LEADER network in France on Minday October 16th during the General Assembly of LEADER France. She brought forth  perspectives on the LEADER programme’s impact in diverse geographic contexts, respectively French and Croatian. She highlighted not only the successes achieved through the LEADER programme but also shed light on key recommendations to enhance the impact of the LEADER programme further through a more systemic approach that can produce important multiplicative effects in terms of community development. Her presentation delved into practical strategies for optimizing decision-making practices, management techniques, and organizational structures within the LEADER framework.

Systems mapping and co-design for sustainability

Organising for sustainability among many actors is so complex, so how what to do about it? MBS COAST Chair’s co-director Domenico Dentoni was invited to discuss this as keynote of the 12th editor of the Systemic Co-Design Symposium in Amsterdam, organised by the Experts’ Network of Systemic Co-Design and the Systemic Design Association.

Do not hesitate to contact Domenico Dentoni to learn more about systems mapping and organizing for sustainability – either for workshops in your organisation or for a discussion on its scientific foundations.

A New Chapter Unfolds: MBS Coast Chair and LEADER France Forge Strategic Partnership

Paving the Way for Resilient Community-Led Local Development
In a landmark development, the MBS Coast Chair and LEADER France have formalized a cooperative agreement, marking a significant stride in their shared commitment to community development and resilience.

Partnership Initiatives
Under the leadership of Marija Roglic from MBS and François Galabrun from LEADER France, the initial phase of this partnership is focused on the establishment of a systemic approach to resilient community-led local development in France.

Decision-Making Practices in Focus
A key aspect of the collaboration is the ongoing compilation of a comprehensive report shedding light on decision-making practices within French Local Action Groups (LAGs). This pivotal report is slated to take center stage at the GAL community’s General Assembly scheduled for October.

Anticipated Impact
As this collaboration gains momentum, the partners eagerly anticipate sharing updates on their progress in supporting sustainable community development and fortifying resilience. The initiative is poised to shape the landscape of community-led development in France, emphasizing a commitment to action research and fostering partnerships.

Stay tuned for further developments as MBS and LEADER France embark on this journey towards sustainable community growth and resilience. 🌱🌍

#MBS #LEADERFrance #CommunityDevelopment #Resilience #ActionResearch #Partnership #LocalDevelopment

September 2023

This month marked the establishment of two important partnerships for the COAST Chair. At a national level, Marija Roglic, with the support of our colleague Elsa Kassardjan, signed a Memorandum of Understanding with LEADER (Liaison entre Actions de Développement de l’Économie Rurale) France to co-develop studies and influence participatory processes of multi-stakeholder engagement between local farmers and rural actors, agri-food companies, and policy actors operating across local, national and European scales.

At an international level, COAST Chair’s Domenico Dentoni, in close collaboration with Timothy Manyise and Cristiano Rossignoli at WorldFish, signed a Memorandum of Understanding to exchange knowledge on learning and innovation in agri-food and aquaculture systems in Sub-Saharan Africa and Asia. This collaboration will give the chance to scale the impact of systems mapping methodologies, developed by the COAST Chair, both in program and strategy development and in monitoring and evaluation of theories of change.

Check here the latest report by WorldFish on “Development and Scaling of Sustainable Feeds for Resilient Aquatic Food Systems in Sub-Saharan Africa”, which builds upon COAST Chair’s systems mapping approaches.

July 2023

The COAST Chair celebrates two important research recognitions gained by COAST Chair’s Marija Roglic, who was a finalist for the Interdisciplinary Thesis Prize 2023 awarded by the Doctoral College of the University of Montpellier and the winner of the Organization Studies and SAGE Student Paper Impact Award.

These prizes reward Marija’s impact of her thesis, which provided insight into participative processes within multistakeholder settings by analysing public Multi-Stakeholder Initiatives within the European Union’s LEADER program. Marija’s work is a remarkable example of action research, as the empirical case study of Croatia grounds on her direct, multi-annual and multi-scalar experience as manager.

The engagement of the COAST Chair with the EU Group on Organization Studies Community continues to be strong over time. After that COAST Chair’s founder Helen Etchanchu cocreated the Organization Scholars 4 Future movement, this summer Marija Roglic and Domenico Dentoni contributed to the organization of a vibrant Student and Early Career Scholars workshop to expand the influence of organization studies in Eastern Europe.  


June 2023

We assessed and celebrated the annual research work of our Doctoral Students, Doctorate of Business Administration (DBA) students, and Master thesis students supervised by COAST Chair faculty. At Wageningen University (The Netherlands), one of the most prestigious universities worldwide on food and agriculture studies, Robert Ochago defended his Doctoral Dissertation on farmers’ experiential learning in the coffee value chain in Uganda under the co-promotion of COAST Chair’s Domenico Dentoni.

As main result, Dr Ochago found that farmers have more opportunity to learn from their value chain challenges when they have more access to family resources. Therefore, to make farmers’ adaptation to climate change more equitable, it is crucial that institutions find way to tailor and support farmers’ learning across families and communities. An important learning also much beyond Uganda and the coffee sector, in a period where farmers worldwide experience increasing climate adaptation and resilience inequality

Read the latest paper published in Jourmal of Agricultural Education and Extension (JAEE) in 2023 by Robert Ochago in collaboration with the COAST Chair.

At the invitation of Paola de Bernardi and Alberto Bertello, the University of Turin hosted COAST’s Marija Roglic for an engaging course on “Introduction to Systems Thinking and Mixed Methods Research”. Participants eagerly immersed themselves in tackling complex challenges, from Italian demography to understanding nuclear power, using systems mapping techniques. The course also explored the realm of interdisciplinary research designs, with a particular focus on the role of systems mapping in the interdisciplinary ENFASYS HEU project, which aims to transform large-scale farming systems.


May 2023

May is a good time to discuss new research ideas developed during the year. In an event organized by the Journal of Supply Chain Management on “Regenerative Supply Chains”, organized in collaboration with the Network of Business Sustainability, Chair COAST’ Domenico Dentoni – and his co-author Stefano Pascucci, Professor at University of Exeter Business School in United Kingdom – presented a new paper idea on “Regenerating Supply Chains as a Process of Transdisciolinary Sensemaking”. This is part of a broader plan of engagement with University of Exeter, which is a key partner of the Chair COAST in bridging organizational and natural sciences.

The research outcomes from this event and others through the 2022/2023 year were translated also in two training sessions with more than 30 executive managers from more than 20 countries worldwide on Circular Economy Management, which Domenico Dentoni provided as part of a new collaboration between the Chair COAST and the European Institute of Innovation for Sustainability.


April 2023

How can we sustainably improve our use of water in Montpellier, while facing a major climate, water and energy crisis in our region and globally? To address this urgent question, Domenico Dentoni led a collective intelligence session based on systems mapping with PGE3 students of the MBS Percours d’Excellence “Act for Change” – launched by the brilliant team of the Chair MIND, with which the Chair COAST collaborates – and high school students of Antonia International School (AIS) to support an innovative project of aquaponics that AIS is developing in collaboration with Terres des Hommes in France and in Guatemala.

To further reflect and disseminate our collaboration with the Chair MIND as part of the MBS IMPACTS center ambition of understanding and addressing social and ecological problems at regional and global scales, COAST Chair’s Marija Roglic also participated to the roundtable “Managing with care: a strong leverage point for the social and ecological transformation of our organizations” with Laetitia Leonard (France Active Occitanie), Sandrine Minodier (Artyzen) and Magalie Marais (Chair MIND, Montpellier Business School). An opinion piece was also produced as an outcome of this roundtable.

Learn more about the Percours of Excellence “Act for Change”

Learn more about Managing with care at Montpellier Business School


March 2023

As part of our “ENcouraging Farmers towards Sustainable and Resilient Agri-Food SYSstems” (ENFASYS) project, funded by the European Union (EU) Commission, our COAST Chair developed and presented a methodological framework, led by Marija Roglic and Domenico Dentoni, that will orient systems mapping workshops between companies, civil society and policy makers across 14 European countries. These workshops have the goal of collectively develop business solutions to address problems of climate adaptation, resilience, water scarcity and food insecurity across Europe in line with the EU “Farm to Fork” Strategy

This methodological framework builds upon our experience in France, Europe and worldwide on systems mapping that we presented in our newly published paper on Bio-Based and Applied Economics (read the full paper and watch the paper video open-access here). To further disseminate our research, we also translated the paper into a blog for the World Economic Forum Nature & Climate series and we used the framework to develop another project proposal with international partners at University of Oxford Environmental Change Institute, Wageningen University and University of Pisa among the others.


February 2023

Large companies are well aware of the need to transform their strategies and organization to adapt and tackle the socio-ecological issues of our times. In the Master of Science (MSc) course “Organizational and Systems Change” (from this year renamed Advanced Organizational Behavior), embedded in the MSc Digital Transformation and MSc Supply Chain Management programs, we build students’ and professionals’ competencies to plan, stimulate and navigate transformations within and beyond their company.

Together with outstanding guests from a variety of organizations, such as Carine de Boissezon (EDF Chief Impact Officer), Alix Roumagnac (President and Founder of Predict Services), Chris Monaghan and Eva Lalakova (Metabolic Ventures) and Cyprien Brabant (representative of Pour un Reveil Ecologique), we discussed how to adapt and transform organizations while contributing to adapt our natural environment to planetary boundaries

Students worked with the living cases of organizational and systemic change in EDF, Veolia and Danone to keep the course connected with the current business reality. In groups, and in interaction with our guests, they developed systems maps to propose viable but ambitious change strategies in their companies; and they engaged in role plays to concretely learn how to negotiate change within their organizations.


January 2023

How can you start a new business, or revitalize an established one, to address problems of water scarcity, plastic overuse, poverty or food insecurity? Or to make other purposive impacts on the social and ecological system where is it embedded? Based on our COAST Chair experience in France, Europe and worldwide, we tackle this question with 220 PGE2 students enrolled in the elective course “Entrepreneurship & Systemic Change” starting this month for its second edition in 2022/2023.

The course gives students with an understanding of why startups need a systemic approach to build a strong communication to attract funding and other resources from multiple stakeholders in their networks and beyond. With the instructors – Timothy Manyise, Jacqueline Chan-Dentoni, Marija Roglic, Calin Gurau and Domenico Dentoni – the students will practice, practice, and again practice how to position their business in the best possible way to effectively and collectively address socio-ecological problems that concern them.


December 2022

Systems mapping is an important approach to bring together multiple across, within or across companies or other organizations, to understand complex strategic and socio-ecological problems and develop a common vision to address them. But what is exactly systems mapping: is it a tool, is it a workshop format, or is it a process to make happen over time? How can it help sustainability managers and social innovators to make a difference?

This month the COAST Chair’s Marija Roglic and Domenico Dentoni discussed these questions in a research chapter development workshop on systems thinking and historical approaches to organization studies for the Research on Sociology of Organizations, which we were invited to develop by the guest editors Silvia Dorado Banacloche (UMass Boston) and Ralph Hamann (University of Cape Town Graduate School of Business). This chapter sets up the basis also for develop a US-France Fulbright Scholarship proposal opportunity to develop new theory and practice of systems mapping at UMass Boston in 2023/2024.


November 2022

How can we change or adapt our business models – in our companies, schools or other organizations – to support, accelerate or steer our ecological transition? As part of our COAST Chair engagement in MBS IMPACTS Centre, Domenico Dentoni discussed this question with Noé de Bonnaventure (Véolia Eau), Caroline Catalan (Nicollin) and Maryline Meyer (MBS – MIND) as part of a roundtable at Montpellier Business School.

Our relationship with Noé de Bonnaventure (Véolia Eau) is particularly meaningful for our Chair, because the water scarcity issues at our local and global scales are urgent and complex. Together with Véolia Eau, our COAST Chair is part of a regional network for the ecological transition, including also startups like IAGE, funders and incubators like France Active Occitanie, and other companies like Predict Services, Razel Bec and Bouygues.

This network supports local efforts that have systemic effects in and beyond our region, such as the work of Antonia International School, developing a project of aquaponics in its school garden, and of Oc’Consigne, establishing novel circuits for reusing glass bottles.

October 2022

Ph.D. course on Entrepreneuring, Rurality and the Role of Space

PhD students across all institutions and geographies can attend, for free, an online PhD course on “Entrepreneuring, Rurality and the Role of Space” along the academic year 2022/2023, taught by a team of internationally recognized scholars in the field of entrepreneurship.

Along with William B. Gartner (Babson College), Malin Tillmar, Linnaeus University, Johan Gaddefors, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences and Steffen Korsgaard, University of Southern Denmark, this team will include Domenico Dentoni, co-chairholder of Communication and Organizing for Sustainable Transformations (COAST).

The course is open to doctoral students and others interested in gaining foundational knowledge on theory and empirical research at the intersection of entrepreneurship and the rural. Moreover, the course is offered in conjunction with the Entrepreneurship and Regional Development Special Issue on “Rural Entrepreneurship in Times of Transformation”.

Specific topics of the PhD course will include:
Rural entrepreneurship and entrepreneurship in the rural (with Malin Tillmar)
• Socio-spacial foundations of rural entrepreneurship (with Steffen Korsgaard)
• Rural community entrepreneurship (with Johan Gaddefors)
• Rural family entrepreneuring (with William B. Gartner)
• Rural tourism entrepreneurship (with William B. Gartner and Malin Tillmar)
• Rural entrepreneurship, resilience, and transformation (with Domenico Dentoni)

A description of the course can be found here.

The online course will meet from 13.00 to 16.00 CET on these days: 12 October 2022, 9 November 2022, 7 December 2022, 1 February 2023, 1 March 2023, and 5 April 2023. 

ECTS credits (7.5) are available to Ph.D. students who satisfy the course requirements.  One of the primary goals of the course is to generate a manuscript for submission to an Entrepreneurship and Regional Development working paper conference on rural entrepreneurship to be held June 13-16, 2023, in Kalmar, Sweden.  Information about the conference can be found here.

If you have questions about the course or want to register, please contact William B. Gartner:

September 2022

The COAST Chair of MBS kick starts its first Horizon Europe project ENFASYS with a research grant of 406,000 euros

The MBS team, including Prof. Domenico Dentoni, co-Chairholder of the COAST chair, Drs. Marija Roglic, a postdoctoral scholar and Dr Elsa Kassardjian, Head of Valorization, started MBS’s first research project financed through the prestigious EU research program Horizon Europe in partnership with 12 european research institutions and practitioners’ organisations.

The role of MBS in the project will be central. The MBS team will identify leverage points and strategies for farmer behavior shifts through a participatory system mapping approach (from case level to food system level incentives).

Find out more about this research project and what it involves in our article here.

June 2022


The COAST Chair invites you to the first hybrid conference of the CLIMATE CONNECT cycle, on Monday 13 June from 1.30 to 8.30 pm. The event will host many experts and will be based on the three pillars of CLIMATE CONNECT: new narratives (creation of positive imaginaries); new practices (celebration of pioneers) and finally: new behaviours (adoption of new lifestyles).

climate connect

March 2022


Registration Required

Ecological transition and business are often contrasted. But are we aware of the opportunities that our socio-economic activities, more or less committed or “responsible” (CSR), can produce in terms of preserving biodiversity, protecting terrestrial ecosystems or reducing greenhouse gas emissions in the territories?

February 2022

Online conference with Fabrice Bonnifet, Céline Puff Ardichvili and MBS students

January 2022

Dr. Helen Etchanchu will participate in the #ThinklistImpact webinar hosted by the University of Bath’s Center for Business, Organizations and Society. This event is designed to celebrate responsible business researchers who are making an impact on practice through social media. 

Register via Zoom

November 2021

As part of our international scientific activities, COAST has established a special issue in Business & Society to foster a debate on interdisciplinary issues related to systems change, resilience and transformation. The call for papers closes in November 2022:

August 2021

Dr Helen Etchanchu and Dr Domenico Dentoni, COAST Chair co-holders, spoke at the Academy of Management’s “Changing Socio-Ecological Systems at the Theory-Practice Nexus” event.

For more information, you can check our article here.

June 2021

On 25, 26 and 27 June, the Association La Fresque du Climat organised its festival at La Cité Fertile. This open event was dedicated to raising awareness on climate issues. The holder of the COAST Chair, Helen Etchanchu, spoke on Friday 25 June during the round table discussion on ” The importance of raising employees’ awareness of climate issues “. Many speakers took part in this discussion:

  • Carine de Boissezon – Director of Sustainable Development, EDF Group
  • Fabrice Bonnifet – Director of Sustainable Development & Quality, Safety and Environment, Bouygues Group; President, College of Sustainable Development Directors (C3D)
  • Frédéric Giuli – Founder & CEO, Caristeo

You can watch the video of this round table discussion at:

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