Maren Kropfeld: „Unsustainable consumption is a central cause for the deterioration of the global environment“
Wie können neuartige Geschäftsmodelle das Konsumverhalten verändern und weniger ressourcenintensive Verbrauchspraktiken fördern (etwa: Reparieren)? Die Doktorandin Maren Kropfeld forscht im Bereich Ökologische Ökonomie an der Universität Oldenburg. Das Interview wurde auf Englisch geführt, der Arbeitssprache der Dissertation und aller Teil-Projekte.
Maren Kropfeld promoviert im Bereich Ökologische Ökonomie an der Universität Oldenburg. Seit 2019 ist sie Stipendiatin der Studienstiftung des deutschen Volkes.
Interview with Maren Kropfeld (English)
What research question are you addressing in your doctoral thesis?
We are exploring the role of sufficiency-oriented business models in the transition towards more sustainable consumer practices. Sufficiency-oriented business models support an absolute reduction in consumption and encourage alternative, less resource-intensive consumption practices, such as repairing. We're investigating which practices are promoted through alternative marketing practices, and which business models stand behind this.
Why are you focusing on this research question?
Unsustainable consumption is a central cause for the deterioration of the global environment. The responsibility for changing consumption patterns cannot be pushed onto the consumers alone. Businesses are important economic value creators and drivers of innovation within our political-economic system. A socio-ecological transformation has to include the transformation potential of businesses and their business models.
What are initial research findings? Can you give an example?
As technology-focused measures to increase efficiency or circularity will not be enough to reach our climate goals, the key messages from my research so far are: (1) consuming less is more ecologically favorable than consuming „green“, (2) businesses have a responsibility to reduce resource consumption both on the production and consumption side, (3) a sufficiency-based „Business Model of Enough“ can constitute the core for so called communities of sufficiency practice, enabling institutional change within the political-economic background of businesses, (4) marketing plays a critical role in encouraging and enabling sufficiency-oriented consumption practices, but until now focuses mostly on growth-compatible strategies such as product longevity rather than engaging in absolute reductions of consumption.
What have been your personally most decisive milestones in the research project so far?
My first publication based on my Master Thesis "The Environmental Impact of Anticonsumption Lifestyles and Ecological Concern" was the starting point for my dissertation project. The next big milestone is the publication of our book chapter on "The Business Model of Enough" (link), which summarizes our ideas on how business models can support sufficiency-oriented consumption. Finally, I am looking forward to the feedback we will receive on our empirical study on sufficiency-promoting marketing in the outdoor industry and possible follow up projects.
How can individuals support you or your research project?
My colleagues and I value any feedback or contacts to relevant companies that we might include in our studies or that are willing to cooperate for case or intervention studies. Furthermore, anyone who has worked with methods for analyzing Instagram-Posts and qualitative data analysis in MAXQDA before, is very welcome to share their insights and ideas. Lastly, and most importantly, I want to translate our research findings into practice, e. g. for communication or consulting purposes for businesses.
What does the fellowship enable you to do?
The Studienstiftung fellowship enabled me to pursue this relatively new and unexplored, yet promising, topic without making compromises (e.g. due to missing PhD positions in this area). I was able to shape the research project exactly the way I wanted to and to choose the methods as well as my collaborators freely. This freedom allowed for a very interdisciplinary and flexible approach to the research question, thereby increasing – in my humble opinion – the quality and relevance of the whole research project.
- Kontakt: Maren Ingrid Kropfeld, maren.ingrid.kropfeld[at]uol.de
Stand: Dezember 2021