S.F. (Sylke) Jellema MSc

Sylke Jellema
Rotterdam School of Management (RSM)
Erasmus University Rotterdam
ERIM PhD Candidate
Field: Organisation
Affiliated since 2018

Sylke Jellema is a PhD Candidate at the Business-Society Management department at the Rotterdam School of Management. 

The overall theme of her PhD is impact-based organizing. In this context, she is primarily interested in the role of values and a sense of purpose on such organizing. Another area she focuses on in her PhD is the impact of certification standards as a market mechanism designed to realize positive contributions for society. Sylke is a qualitative researcher and has experience with longitudinal ethnographic field studies in a global context. 

PhD Track Brace for Impact: Good Intentions, Unintended Consequences, and the Role of Performative Micro-Processes in Organizational Efforts for Societal Change

Through this dissertation, I aim to advance our knowledge of organizing for positive societal impact. I especially contend that our academic approach to understanding the phenomenon of ‘organizing to do good’ has been overly simplistic. Good intentions alone do not guarantee positive impacts. Instead, the road to impact is marked with twists, turns, roadblocks, and potential dead ends. Comprising three studies, this dissertation focuses on different challenges of organizing for positive impact. Study one is based on a systematic literature review of certification standards and explores the complexities of measuring impact across socio-ecological systems. For studies two and three, I undertook a three-year ethnographic field study of a global impact-driven organization. In study two, I employed the lens of sensemaking to elucidate the challenges of mobilizing a group of mission-driven people towards aligning themselves behind a common purpose, explaining how strong commitments to personal values and ideals can hinder such alignment. The third study delves into the intricacies of global collaborations for impact. In this study, I utilized the lens of speech community theory to illustrate how shared impact-related authority norms within global governance structures can become ingrained in codified communication practices.

Certification standards; Corporate purpose; Global organizing; Headquarter-subsidiary relations; Impact; Sensemaking; Speech community; Sustainability; Systems thinking; Values
Time frame
2018 -


  • Academic (1)
    • Jellema, S. F., Werner, M. D., Rasche, A., & Cornelissen, J. (2022). Questioning Impact: A Cross-Disciplinary Review of Certification Standards for Sustainability. Business and Society, 61(5), 1042-1082. https://doi.org/10.1177/00076503211056332

  • Academic (1)
    • Werner, M. D., & Jellema, S. F. (2018). 'Becoming a co-operative?': Emergent identity and governance struggles in the context of institutional ambiguity in a citizen-led health-care cooperative. In Managing Hybrid Organizations: Governance, Professionalism and Regulation (pp. 243-265). Springer International Publishing AG. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-95486-8_12

  • Internal (1)
    • Jellema, S. (2024). Brace for impact: Good intentions, unintended consequences, and the role of performative micro-processes in organized eff orts for societal change. [Doctoral Thesis, Erasmus University Rotterdam]. Erasmus University Rotterdam (EUR).


Visiting address

Burgemeester Oudlaan 50
3062 PA Rotterdam

Postal address

Postbus 1738
3000 DR Rotterdam