Supervising PhD students: Jean-Philippe Bootz tells all

Interview de Martial Bellon

Associate professor at EMSBS and member of the HuManiS research center, Jean-Philippe Bootz is currently supervising two doctoral students. We asked him a few questions about the different dissertation formats used by his doctoral students and about his role as PhD adviser.

  • Hello, can you briefly introduce yourself?

In 2013, I joined EMSBS as an associate professor. I obtained my French qualification to supervise research (HDR) in 2017 and will be promoted to full professor at the start of the 2023/2024 academic year.

My research focuses on two main areas of strategic management: strategic foresight and knowledge management. In connection with these areas, I'm in charge of the Observatory of the Future and the Knowledge Management and Foresight Chair at EMSBS. I'm also scientific director at AGeCSO, an academic association focused on knowledge management.


  • You are currently supervising two PhD students. Can you tell us about their dissertations?

My first PhD student, Pietro Beltramello, is doing an article-based dissertation on the link between the bioeconomy (an environmentally friendly economy aimed at the efficient use of natural resources) and knowledge management. He uses knowledge management as a means of operationalizing the theoretical frameworks of the bioeconomy.

My second doctoral student, Quentin Lambert, obtained a master's degree in entrepreneurship at EMSBS and wanted to continue with a doctorate. He is carrying out action research to design and develop a community of practice for student-entrepreneurs within the scope of the Young Entrepreneur diploma program, which he runs at EMSBS. He will present his research in the form of a monographic dissertation.


  • What's the difference between a monograph and article-based dissertation?

The article-based dissertation is a format that has developed considerably in recent years. Main results are presented in the form of a compilation of at least three articles, publishable in peer-reviewed journals and with at least one article accepted for publication. It enables doctoral students to familiarize themselves with the publication process and to build the skills needed to excel in this central aspect of a professor’s career. This approach requires the ability to connect the various articles used and therefore to find an encompassing theoretical framework, which is not always easy. What's more, since the publication process is often lengthy, managing time and pressure is often more complex. In comparison, the traditional monograph allows for a more in-depth exploration of a specific issue that will be developed progressively over the course of the doctorate.

Both have their advantages and disadvantages, so the choice must be made on a case-by-case basis, depending on the topic, the field of research, and the experience and personality of the doctoral student. Irrespective of the chosen format, I strongly advise PhD students to try to publish during their PhD program.


  • In your opinion, what qualities are needed to best advise a doctoral student?

In my opinion, the prerequisite for effective supervision is technical research skills—that is, mastery of theoretical frameworks, methodology, and publication processes—in order to provide solid advice to PhD students.

However, placing emphasis on the human factor is just as important for me. You need to be able to reassure students when they are in doubt, to be a good listener, and overall to build a relationship of trust. To achieve this, you need to pay close attention to the doctoral student selection process. Pietro and Quentin, in addition to their very solid master’s thesis work, were very enthusiastic and motivated, which made the prospect of supporting them in the years to come all the more appealing.

I strive to create an atmosphere that is conducive to learning and developing their research projects. It's a process of co-construction, matching what they bring to the table with the requirements of scientific journals in management science.


  • What impact does PhD supervision have on your research?


PhD supervision requires a significant time investment, so I limit the number of students I take on so as not to diminish the quality of supervision. However, it really allows me to explore theoretical fields or areas that I wouldn't have been able to tackle on my own, for lack of time. Thanks to my PhD students, I've been able to diversify my areas of research and explore high-potential topics. They are also very active members of AGeCSO, which helps to energize this academic association in which I am heavily involved. I sincerely believe that we will continue to collaborate on joint projects, even after their PhD.

Thank you for taking the time to answer our questions!

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