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PhD Position on Generative AI, CSR, and Corporate Legitimacy

Posted 11 Jul 2024
Work experience
1 to 3 years
Full-time / part-time
Job function
€2,770 - €3,539 per month
Degree level
Required languages
English (Fluent)
Dutch (Fluent)
15 Aug 2024 00:00

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PhD position on the role of generative AI in corporate social responsibility communication and corporate legitimacy

Hundreds of millions of individuals increasingly use generative artificial intelligence (GenAI) in the form of conversational agents such as ChatGPT as sources of information. These agents help individuals learn about society and the world around them, including what companies do and how socially responsible or irresponsible they are. Against the backdrop of the mediatization, globalization and politicization of organizations, the project aims to improve our understanding of the extent to which conversational GenAI challenges how and what we learn about companies and their social (ir)responsibility and what effects the emergence of genAI has on individuals’ perceptions of corporate legitimacy, compared to (traditional) news media. The project's findings are expected to significantly contribute to research and practice by informing researchers, companies, policymakers, and other social actors and institutions about how the emergence of GenAI can disrupt processes affecting corporate legitimacy, particularly in the context of complex topics like corporate social (ir)responsibility.

We are looking for a motivated and enthusiastic PhD candidate for the project “Generative (De)Legitimation: Corporate Social (Ir)Responsibility in the Age of Conversational Generative AI” under the supervision of dr. Sarah Marschlich, dr. Britta Brugman, and prof. dr. Theo Araujo. The project is embedded in the Amsterdam School of Communication Research (ASCoR) at the Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences, University of Amsterdam.

What are you going to do

In this 4-year PhD project, the PhD candidate will explore (1) how individuals interact with conversational GenAI agents when seeking information about organizations, especially in relation to their corporate social (ir)responsibility and legitimacy, (2) how the answers by GenAI differ from regular news content about corporate social (ir)responsibility and legitimacy, and (3) explore the effects of GenAI on individuals’ corporate legitimacy perceptions, as a result of source perceptions and the use of specific frames.

Various methods are used in this project: in-depth interviews, quantitative (automated) content analysis, and experimental studies. The PhD candidate will write a paper-based dissertation and will strive to publish the results of individual studies in leading journals in the field of Communication Science. In addition to the scientific impact, the project will have societal impact, with outreach to interested stakeholders within and outside academia to disseminate the research conclusions.

Tasks include

  • conducting in-depth interviews with users of Conversational GenAI;
  • conducting a quantitative content analysis to compare how Conversational GenAI and news media differ in their portrayal of companies;
  • conducting experimental studies to investigate the effects of information sources and frames by Conversational GenAI on individuals’ corporate legitimacy perceptions;
  • completing a dissertation consisting of research articles within the appointment period;
  • presenting the research at national and international conferences;
  • contributing to the vibrant academic life in Amsterdam by attending ASCoR’s PhD club, workshops, meetings, and lectures;
  • conducting teaching-related tasks in the Bachelor programme of Communication Science (10% of your time).

What do you have to offer

You have

  • a (research) master’s degree in Communication Science or will have obtained this degree before the start of the project. Candidates with another (research) master’s degree are welcome to apply, but should motivate why their experience suffices for this project;
  • a strong interest in, and preferably knowledge of, both conversational genAI (such as ChatGPT) and concepts related to the research proposal, including framing, corporate legitimacy, and corporate social (ir)responsibility;
  • a firm basis in and, ideally, experience with empirical research methods and data analysis. In particular, the project involves content analysis, experimental studies, and in-depth interviews. It is no requirement that one has in-depth experience in all these methods; the PhD trajectory allows methodological training and further development. Please explicitly reflect on your methodological skillset in the motivation letter;
  • an excellent spoken and written command of English (as you will be writing an English language dissertation and presenting at international conferences; Dutch is an important plus).


  • are passionate about research;
  • have a strong affinity for the research topic;
  • are eager to learn and develop new skills and theoretical perspectives;
  • are able and enjoy working in a team;
  • are able to work independently and show initiative;
  • enjoy discussing and presenting research in research seminars, workshops, and conferences, and are keen to communicate results to non-academic audiences;
  • are willing to travel internationally to scientific conferences and workshops and engage with the scientific community at large;
  • are organized, flexible and attentive to detail.

What can we offer you

The planned starting date for this project is October 1st, 2024. The position concerns temporary employment of 38 hours for a maximum term of 4 years. The initial employment is for one year. Following a positive assessment and barring altered circumstances, this term will be extended by a maximum of 36 months, which should result in the conferral of a doctorate. We will put together a curriculum, which will also include the opportunity to attend training courses and both national and international events. You will also be tasked with teaching Bachelor's students for approximately 10% of the contract. For this position, the University Job Classification profile “promovendus” applies.

Your salary will be €2.770 gross per month in the first year and will increase to €3.539 in the final year, based on full-time employment and in keeping with the Collective Labour Agreement of Dutch Universities. We additionally offer an extensive package of secondary benefits, including 8% holiday allowance and a year-end bonus of 8.3%.

The UvA offers excellent possibilities for further professional development and education.

What else do we offer

  • a position in which initiative and input are highly valued;
  • a nurturing environment that allows you to develop your talents and skills;
  • an enthusiastic and warm supervision team;
  • an inspiring academic and international working environment in the heart of Amsterdam.

About us

The Amsterdam School of Communication Research (ASCoR) is the research institute for the Communication Science Department in the Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences at the University of Amsterdam.

We offer a challenging work environment with a variety of duties and ample scope for individual initiative and development within an inspiring organization. The social and behavioral sciences play a leading role in addressing the major societal challenges faced by the world, the Netherlands and Amsterdam, now and in the future.

To work at the University of Amsterdam is to work in a discerning, independent, creative, innovative and international climate characterized by an open atmosphere and a genuine engagement with the city of Amsterdam and society.

The University of Amsterdam is one of the largest comprehensive universities in Europe. With some 40,000 students, 6,000 staff, 3,000 PhD candidates, and an annual budget of more than 850 million euros, it is also one of Amsterdam’s biggest employers.
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