The voice of experience

Meet Joëlle Vanhamme, a professor who has turned marketing into a lever for sustainability

Joëlle Vanhamme , Professor

For Joëlle Vanhamme, who forged a solid business vision imbued with humanism at a young age within the family SME, marketing can only be a means to be used wisely for the benefit of all stakeholders. After thirteen years at EDHEC, she has turned her discipline into a force for transformation, helping to change attitudes and behaviour. She advocates teaching that integrates sustainability issues and applied research, rooted in reality and the notion of impact.

Reading time :
8 Mar 2024

Joëlle Vanhamme's career and interests reflect the evolution of marketing over the last twenty-five years. From a purely consumer behaviour profile, Joëlle has embraced sustainability issues to make her approach to marketing a vehicle for change.

But this evolution is not due entirely to chance or to external factors. "I grew up in a family of entrepreneurs, in a small family SME environment", she explains. "We've always had an approach to business marked by concern for its impact and the well-being of everyone. The company has always been seen as a tool that enables people to live and make a living, a stakeholder philosophy before its time in a way." From this original context, Joëlle drew a foundation of fundamental values that would dictate her career choices, a sincere and ongoing interest in understanding the impact of business on society.


In 1996, with a Masters in Management Sciences and Business Administration and a CEMS Masters in International Management from the Catholic University of Louvain (Belgium) in her pocket (1), the young graduate first tried her hand at consultancy... but it wasn't exactly love at first sight: "You had to move very quickly and align yourself with what the client wanted to hear, and I wasn't very comfortable with that".


She therefore decided to return to university to start a joint doctorate in management sciences and a master's degree in psychology. She obtained a Research fellowship from Belgium's highly competitive Fonds National de la Recherche Scientifique (2), as well as various grants which enabled her to spend time doing research at the University of Auckland (New Zealand), Delft University of Technology (Netherlands) and Eindhoven University of Technology (Netherlands). The result: a thesis entitled "The Role of Surprise In Satisfaction Judgements" (3) presented to the jury at the University of Louvain in 2002, looking at the process by which the emotion of surprise can condition consumer satisfaction, a belief held by companies at the time but never scientifically confirmed.


She then began her career as a professor at the Erasmus University in Rotterdam (Netherlands), laying the foundations for the years ahead of her: "I started working on CSR issues in my first few months as a post-doc. At the time, CSR and marketing existed in two bubbles that didn't intersect. But I wanted my research to have an impact on my discipline, to help change the direction of marketing away from its obsession with growth and towards the idea of well-being, better living and the common good for society".


She therefore focused her efforts on understanding and improving consumer and corporate behaviour. In 2009, for example, she published " "Too Good to Be True!". The Effectiveness of CSR History in Countering Negative Publicity "(4). Two years later, she became section editor of the Journal's CSR section. "I witnessed at first hand the evolution of marketing research, from an initially very business-oriented approach, focusing on the financial stakes involved in communicating on CSR issues, to a much more systematic integration of sustainability issues", she sums up.


She joined EDHEC Business School in 2011 as Professor of Marketing, after spending a year at IESEG School of Management. At the time, CSR aspects were dealt with in their own silo in the programmes and courses. "Quickly, thanks to the audits and by listening to changes in society and in the discipline, sustainability made its way into the programmes and courses", she recounts, "first as a separate module, then as a starting point". EDHEC Executive MBA, which she took over as academic director in 2022, has thus moved from a growth-oriented to a well-being-oriented approach, and sustainability is now a component of all courses. For Joëlle, "marketing must itself be a form of education: it must seek to make people understand, to change behaviour, it cannot simply be a tool for profit".


Alongside her teaching, Joëlle Vanhamme has remained a solutions-oriented researcher. She has devoted her most recent work to sustainable marketing and CSR, focusing in particular on the reparability economy (5), obsolescence (6), ethical luxury consumers (7), and the tensions emerging in certain sectors such as the automotive industry (8) as a result of sustainability requirements.

Published in the international journals that count in the world of marketing and cited nearly 7,500 times, Joëlle keeps a sharp eye on developments in the discipline by contributing to reading committees and being an ad-hoc reviewer for several renowned journals, or by supervising PhDs. "It's very important for me to stay in touch with the younger generations, to guide those who are coming into academia and to ensure that marketing research continues to invest in the field of sustainability," she concludes.

Key dates

Since 2022: Academic Director of the Executive MBA, EDHEC Business School, France

2012: Habilitation to direct research, University of Burgundy, France

Since 2011: Professor of Marketing, EDHEC Business School, France

2011-2018: Section editor (CSR), Journal of Business Ethics

2009-2010: Associate Professor, IESEG School of Management, France

2002-2009: Assistant Professor, Erasmus University, The Netherlands

1998-2002: PhD in Management Sciences, Université Catholique de Louvain, Belgium. Thesis: "The Role of Surprise in Satisfaction Judgments" and research visits to the University of Auckland (New Zealand), TU Delft (Netherlands) and TU Eindhoven (Netherlands).

1998 - 1999: Master's degree in psychology, Université Catholique de Louvain, Belgium

1995 - 1996: CEMS Master in International Management, Université Catholique de Louvain, Belgium

1991 - 1996: Master in Management Sciences and Business Administration, specialising in marketing, Université Catholique de Louvain, Belgium

To know more about Joëlle Vanhamme:


(1) Master CEMS - Master in International Management (MIM) :

(2) A public utility foundation, the F.R.S.-FNRS supports the development of fundamental research in the Wallonia-Brussels Federation..

(3) Published in 2001:

(4) Vanhamme, Joëlle, and Bas Grobben. “‘Too Good to Be True!’. The Effectiveness of CSR History in Countering Negative Publicity.” Journal of Business Ethics, vol. 85, 2009, pp. 273–83. JSTOR, Accessed 8 Mar. 2024.

(5) Pauline Munten, Joëlle Vanhamme," To reduce waste, have it repaired! The quality signaling effect of product repairability", Journal of Business Research, Volume 156, 2023, 113457 -

(6) Munten, P., Vanhamme, J., & Swaen, V. (2021). Reducing obsolescence practices from a product-oriented PSS perspective: A research agenda. Recherche et Applications En Marketing (English Edition), 36(2), 42-74.

(7) Vanhamme, J., Lindgreen, A. & Sarial-Abi, G. Luxury Ethical Consumers: Who Are They?. J Bus Ethics 183, 805–838 (2023).

(8) Pauline Munten, Joëlle Vanhamme, François Maon, Valérie Swaen, Adam Lindgreen, "Addressing tensions in coopetition for sustainable innovation: Insights from the automotive industry", Journal of Business Research, Volume 136, 2021, Pages 10-20 -

(9) Google Scholar :