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Scientific conversation with... Al Hamndou DORSOUMA


Doctor DBA

Business Science Institute

(DBA thesis supervised by Prof. Bouchard)

Moderated by :

Nathalie DUBOST

Professor of Management Sciences

University of Orleans

Editor in chief - Impact(s) articles


Presentation of Mr. Doursouma

Mr. Dorsouma is currently working as Acting Director and Division Manager, Climate Change and Green Growth Department at the African Development Bank (AfDB) in Abidjan, Côte d'Ivoire. He manages a team of climate change and green growth experts and climate fund coordinators, while coordinating the AfDB's efforts on climate change in Africa.

Previously, he worked at the Sahara and Sahel Observatory (OSS) in Tunis as an expert on environment and climate change, then as a senior official in charge of resource mobilization and development partnerships at the World Meteorological Organization in Geneva.

Mr. Dorsouma defended his Executive Doctorate in Business Administration (EDBA) in September 2021, on the theme "Armed Conflict and Sustainable Development in Africa: The Role of Environmental Intelligence (Situation in Côte d'Ivoire)" under the supervision of Professor Michel-André Bouchard, Professor Emeritus at the University of Montreal and McGill University in Canada.

Scientific conversation with Mr. Doursouma

Nathalie Dubost – In 2006, you co-published an article with Professor Bouchard called "Armed Conflicts and the Environment: Framework, Modalities, Methods and Environmental Assessment" in the journal Développement Durable & Territoires (Sustainable Development & Territories). The article shows how Environmental Assessment can identify, predict and mitigate the negative impacts of armed conflicts on the environment. Your thesis, defended in 2021 at Business Science Institute, extended your initial reflections further by introducing the concept of collective intelligence. How did this allow you to revisit your earlier work?

Al Hamndou Dorsouma - Thank you for this pertinent question which allows me to make the link between my work started more than fifteen years ago and what I have just completed in my thesis at Business Science Institute. Indeed, Professor Bouchard and I began our reflections on the issue of armed conflicts and their impact on the environment in 2004 and in 2006 we published an article in the journal "Développement Durable et Territoires". This article was the result of our questions about an emerging issue that was not yet the subject of any debate, publications or major interest in the French-speaking world, in particular the environmental assessment community to which we belonged. In this case, we were wondering about the role that a tool such as environmental assessment could play in helping to mitigate the direct and indirect negative impacts of armed conflict on the environment. I must admit that Professor Bouchard was a pioneer on this issue in the French-speaking world, and had it not been for him, it would have been difficult for us to include this issue in the environmental assessment grid and agenda. More than 15 years later, we are pleased to note that this subject is high on the international agenda, and is the subject of many deliberations at the UN and of numerous research studies across a number of disciplines, including environmental sciences and economics. For our part, Professor Bouchard and I have communicated extensively on the issue at various scientific conferences and symposia on environmental assessment, including those of the International Francophone Secretariat for Environmental Assessment and its English-language counterpart, the International Association for Impact Assessment.

In March 2019, when I decided to pursue a DBA, I wanted to change the subject and look at other emerging issues such as climate change, which I have been working on for several years in the different international organisations where I have worked.

I therefore turned once again to Professor Bouchard to revisit our thoughts at the time and to put forward new ones. Following a review of the literature, I noted that many works in the environmental sciences cite our 2006 article. We also found that the analytical tools and frameworks developed were primarily aimed at ensuring that the risks posed by civil wars, terrorist attacks and other violent events were integrated into development agendas, particularly in post-conflict reconstruction programmes. The other finding was that while environmental sciences have made significant progress on this issue as much as economics, management sciences have shown little interest in the subject, with the exception of work on the challenges of environmental issues to management, the integration of CSR into corporate activities and sustainable development.

This review has therefore enabled us to extend our previous reflections using a strategic reading grid oriented towards sustainable development as a whole. Furthermore, we opted for an approach based on grounded theory in order to start from the field, by questioning the practices and approaches implemented within organisations to manage conflict risks. Our data collection was carried out in two stages: firstly, a series of focus groups with development professionals, in particular experts in charge of crisis management, quality control and health-environment within companies; secondly, sustainable development planners within the ministries of planning, environment and sustainable development; and finally, NGO managers in charge of environmental sustainability issues. From these exchanges, combined with our literature review, the notion of environmental intelligence emerged, which we have divided into three dimensions (preventive, prospective and reactive).

Casas (2017) defines environmental intelligence as a systematic approach and information management tool for decision-making and planning in the fields of environment and sustainable development. This concept allows for the analysis and management of the complex relationship between armed conflict and sustainable development. It provides an analytical framework for describing, explaining and analysing the challenges posed by armed conflict on the prospects for sustainable development in a country or organisation, formulating forward-looking scenarios on the links between conflict and sustainability, identifying preventive measures to be put in place in the short, medium and long term before conflicts break out, and guiding the decision-making process of institutional and humanitarian actors on crisis management measures in conflict-affected or conflict-prone countries. It also provides an operational framework for companies to integrate these risks into their strategic objectives in the event of the outbreak of armed conflict affecting their business.

It is in this spirit that we subsequently used the prospective method to develop scenarios for The Ivory Coast, some of which form the basis of our managerial recommendations: the breakthrough scenario of the 'Radiance of the Elephant', the convergent or trend scenario of the 'Elephant with feet of clay', and the disaster scenario of the 'Decline of the Elephant' (the elephant being, of course, the symbol of The Ivory Coast).

Nathalie Dubost – You have used the grounded research methodology: can you give us the reasons for this choice?

Al Hamndou Dorsouma - I was very quickly interested in the grounded theory method developed by Barney Glaser and Anselm Strauss in 1967, which, it should be remembered, was presented as a response to the dominance of positivism.

I therefore quickly subscribed to the method revised by Strauss and Corbin and further developed by their successors, all of whom believe that, being 'both a science and an art', grounded theory must be done in a 'creative and flexible' way. For Charmaz (2000) and Fendt (2008), this method, which aims to be interpretivist, should not claim to 'discover' and 'bring out' a theory as recommended by Glaser.

For our purposes, Strauss and Corbin’s version was also chosen because it is simple and less restrictive, combining both induction and deduction, ensuring above all that the research result is useful and credible. It also takes into account the knowledge, personality and subjectivity of the researcher. We find that, despite questions about its scientific rigour and objectivity, this method favours a listening approach, lets the data speak for itself and avoids excessive generalisations.

Nathalie Dubost – You carried out your thesis in the Ivorian context. In what way can your managerial recommendations be generalised to other African countries, and in particular to West Africa?

Al Hamndou Dorsouma - You are right. Our thesis dealt with the case of The Ivory Coast, a country which underwent a major conflict from 2002 to 2011 and which subsequently experienced other conflicts that seriously affected it. However, it is clear that The Ivory Coast is very dependent on its West African regional environment, which is now interconnected with conflicts in neighbouring countries such as Burkina Faso and Mali. The very precarious security situation currently prevailing in West Africa, and in particular in the Sahel, is likely to spread to The Ivory Coast.

From the above, it is clear that our managerial recommendations and the prospective scenarios we have developed for The Ivory Coast have taken account of the West African regional security situation and its cross-border nature. The study of the situation in The Ivory Coast clearly shows that only concerted action at both the national and regional levels will make it possible to curb the crises and their implications for sustainable development in this country, and by extension in West Africa.

As a result,, we have also advocated a coordinated African response to armed conflicts and their implications for sustainable development in Africa. We have therefore recommended the creation of a regional environmental intelligence mechanism for West Africa along the lines of the one in The Ivory Coast, reinforcing the existing early warning and conflict prevention model within the framework of the Community of West African States (ECOWAS).

We have also recommended the creation of an African financial instrument on conflict risks and their links to sustainable development, with the aim of relieving the increasing security costs of States, financing prevention programmes, and finally accelerating post-conflict reconstruction efforts and anticipating the challenges of sustainable development, while creating a favourable environment for public and private investment in countries affected by armed conflicts or at risk of conflict.

Further reading

Dorsouma, A. (2022). "Armed conflict and sustainable development in Africa. The Case of the Ivory Coast" éditions L'Harmattan, Paris. (In French).

Dorsouma, A. H., & Bouchard, M. A. (2006). Armed Conflict and the Environment. Framework, modalities, methods and role of Environmental Assessment. Développement durable et territoires. Article available online at OpenEdition (In French).

Strauss, A., & Corbin, J. (1994). Grounded Theory Methodology: An Overview. In N. K. Denzin, & Y. S. Lincoln (Eds.), Handbook of Qualitative Research (Chapter 17, pp. 273-285). Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE.


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