The Action Problem

Hege Landsvik, Department of Strategy and Management. Photo: Sigrid Folkestad
`As a female researcher, I am grateful for all the women who have paved the way´, says NHH researcher Hege Landsvik, Department of Strategy and Management. Photo: Sigrid Folkestad
By Sigrid Folkestad

8 March 2024 05:30

The Action Problem

Hege Landsvik had not planned to pursue a doctorate when she was a master's student at NHH. Now, she is tackling the action problem in sustainable consumer behavior.

`When I took the master's course Sustainable business Models with Lars Jacob Tynes Pedersen and Sveinung Jørgensen, I had a moment of realization. This was exactly what I was concerned about; finding good and "green" solutions´.

Hege Landsvik today shares an office with other PhD candidates at the Department of Strategy and Management.

Hege Landsvik, PhD Candidate at NHH.
Hege Landsvik, PhD Candidate at NHH. Photo: Sigrid Folkestad


When Professor Siv Skard at the Department of Strategy and Management needed a PhD candidate for the research group working on sustainable consumer behavior, she applied for the position – and received a job offer.

Landsvik started her PhD period straight from parental leave and almost directly into the lockdown of the country due to Covid-19.

`I never doubted accepting the PhD scholarship. I knew what Siv and several of the other researchers within sustainability were working on, so I was not starting from scratch, but starting in 2020 was special´.

Landsvik has had another child since then.

`Being a PhD candidate is a privilege. Even though it's tough at times, we have a lot of freedom and get to spend our workdays delving into topics that we ourselves are interested in. As a female researcher, I am grateful for all the women who have paved the way. For my part, it meant a lot that Siv became my advisor; it gave extra security. I have a family and can't just drop out on weekends, and she can relate to my situation. It helps me in my PhD´.

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Landsvik is interested in sustainability and "the attitude-behaviour gap," which is the difference between what we say we intend to do and what we actually do.

The PhD candidate wants to figure out this gap.

– Think about the journey of a disposable cup next time you buy a coffee on the go. If you know about the life cycle of a cup and everything behind its production and distribution, and that it only takes a few minutes to drink the coffee before you throw the cup away and it continues its journey in the waste process, it actually seems a bit absurd.

People generally try to act sustainably, says Landsvik, but still, we buy a coffee on the go and throw the cup away.

– Why do we do it, when we have the best intentions of becoming more sustainable? And; can research contribute knowledge that makes it easier to be a sustainable consumer? There's your entry point to my research.


– In my research, I ask people "what would you do in a hypothetical situation", and then we look at what they actually do. We then investigate this gap and try to figure out what lies behind it. In reality, our good intentions are quickly overrun by other factors like habits, availability, price, and knowledge.

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This is exactly how Landsvik wanted to work; testing whether things work, and why.

– This is my niche, with hypothetical versus practical choices. This way, we hope to find out what actually works to make it easier for people to act in accordance with their goals and intentions. If I'm going to spend a lot of time on research, I want it to be useful for others besides myself.

One example is the sorting of trash at Brann stadium. NHH researchers have an ongoing large-scale research project with Brann and BIR Business, which has also received support from UEFA and the Retail Environment Fund.


Landsvik is the "research chief" in the away stands. The work will be part of her doctoral thesis.

– We do online experiments among away supporters and study behavior at the stadium. Here, we conduct field experiments. The research has not yet been published, but we are working on possible measures that can get the audience at the match to bring their own waste to the nearest waste station and to throw it in the correct bins.

Research trio received Research Dissemination Award 2023

This 2023 Award for Excellent Knowledge Dissemination goes to the core team at the Centre for Sustainable Business: Sveinung Jørgensen, Lars Jacob Tynes Pedersen and Siv R. Skard.

One of the nudges, NHH researchers use at the stadium is to play on group identity, like using the logos of the visiting football teams on posters where we encourage source separation.

– Something else we have tried is "gamification". Here, we introduced a competitive element, where teams were ranked based on how well supporters disposed of their waste correctly. We want all the teams to see how well or poorly the others are doing. This seemed to hit well. Now the question is how to use this going forward, concludes the NHH PhD candidate.