Information on current Covid-19 regulations for WHU Executive Education programs.Learn more!


Coalition negotiations after the German federal election: Who has the best bargaining power?

Negotiations expert and WHU Professor Dr. Lutz Kaufmann comments on the latest developments with Germany's election.

With no single party securing a majority of seats in Germany’s Bundestag, a coalition government is imminent. Intense negotiations, party promises, and bridging differences will lay the foundation down for the next few years.

“The situation is quite clear regarding the coalition negotiations after the German federal elections. There will be a so-called “traffic light coalition” (SPD/ Social Democrats, Grüne/The Greens, FDP/Free Democrats) – and I assume this will happen fast due to the internal party constellations and their general motivations: The Greens do not want to explain to their followers that they are (still) voting for Armin Laschet, or possibly even Markus Söder, from the Christian Democrats (CDU/CSU). When going into talks with the FDP, the Greens will for sure favor a coalition with the SPD. However, the FDP is, in general, more flexible and Christian Lindner will not call negotiations off again (like he did in 2017). Furthermore, the FDP does not back their (former) favorite coalition partner CDU as strongly as they used to do.

When looking at the CDU, one can see many and too large conflicts within the party, which holds their leadership back from having a clear mandate and the full support from the party for possible negotiations. In the meantime, the SPD can follow Olaf Scholz’ path during the election campaign, meaning to stay stable and remain calm, because the further the CDU drifts away from being a credible alternative for a coalition with FDP and Greens, the more the SPD wins bargaining power for a negotiation for a traffic light coalition with FDP and Greens. Paradoxically, Greens and FDP are, therefore, still interested in keeping the option for a coalition with CDU alive.

Recently, statements on the coalition negotiations referring to the prisoner’s dilemma based on the game theory were published. CDU and SPD were compared with the prisoners. In my opinion, this comparison does not hold, as game theory rests on the foundational assumption of rationally thinking and acting players. However, the game theory perspective does not consider any conflicts or dynamics within the parties. If the players can be seen as truly rational actors in the current coalition negotiations, the reader must decide.”

There seems to be only one strategic move that would allow the CDU to participate in the next government: Offering Robert Habeck from the Greens to become Chancellor. This implies that the original candidates Baerbock (Greens) and Laschet (CDU) will both not become the next Chancellor. The Green party is unlikely to reject a Green Chancellor, and party-veterans like Winfried Kretschmann with experience in a coalition with the CDU probably would support this. At the same time, the SPD and Olaf Scholz will certainly not pass on the chancellorship to the Greens.

About Lutz Kaufmann

Professor Dr. Lutz Kaufmann is a professor at WHU – Otto Beisheim School of Management. He has been researching and teaching at WHU for 20 years. He has already received numerous awards for his teaching and hitherto research at WHU. His doctoral students, numbering some 40 to date, have won around 20 national and worldwide prizes for their respective dissertations. Many managers, as well as sales and procurement professionals, know him by his highly sought-after Executive Education courses on Negotiations. Read more!


Strategic thinking and acting for executives

Strategic knowledge is a basic requirement in general management and is one of the most essential skills of a successful manager. Basic content on strategy development and execution is therefore already taught during the course of study.

The fact that education does not end with a successful degree has been evident for some time in the development of the continuing education market, in which lifelong learning is becoming increasingly important. This is also confirmed by Dr. Rebecca Winkelmann, Managing Director WHU Executive Education: "Even the Corona crisis was only able to slow down the demand for high-quality continuing education formats for a short time. Especially now, with falling infection figures, we are noticing an increased demand for interactive face-to-face formats that focus on the personal exchange of participants. After months of managers and executives having to act and lead from their desks at home, they want now more than ever a direct, personal exchange to learn from each other."

Due to the high relevance of the content and demand, WHU has developed a new continuing education program for experienced managers that employs experiments, role playing (derived from war gaming) and AI-supported computer simulations to teach strategic thinking, decision-making and action: the "Strategic Decision-Making Program." The program thus adds another strategy format to the portfolio of Executive Education programs at WHU, alongside the already firmly established “Strategy Essentials Program”. "In this way, we can offer participants a continuing education opportunity at every stage of their professional lives," says Rebecca Winkelmann.

The three-day intensive program is designed as an on-site "training camp" so that participants are challenged as strategists and a direct transfer to their own everyday work is encouraged. A digital learning platform serves as program preparation and introduction to the Business Simulation Game used during the program. In the fall of 2021 (October 20th – 22nd), the first program will take place at the modern WHU Campus Düsseldorf. As with all executive education formats at WHU, in addition to the program content and varied didactic methods, the focus is particularly on networking elements, which are intended to initiate networking among participants after the program.

For more information, please visit the program website.


Digital transformation: WHU and Luther launch interdisciplinary Executive Education program for lawyers

Cologne – In order to provide clients with comprehensive legal advice in a digital world, pure legal thinking is no longer enough. With DEEP, the commercial law firm Luther is launching an Executive Education Program for lawyers that combines technology, business, and law.

DEEP stands for "Digital Education & Experience Programme." Luther will be offering this new training program for lawyers for the first time in July 2021. The law firm developed the concept and implementation of the content of the continuing education program in collaboration with WHU – Otto Beisheim School of Management, one of the most renowned German business schools with proven expertise in the field of executive education.

DEEP is intended to combine technology and business aspects with relevant legal issues surrounding digital transformation in a practice-oriented way. With this interdisciplinary continuing education program, Luther is responding to the challenges facing the legal industry in the wake of digital change.

The program will start with 25 participants. DEEP is expressly aimed at lawyers across all levels of seniority, from Associate to Partner. In addition to lawyers from Luther's own ranks, the program is also open to interested clients' in-house lawyers and to partners from the under network that Luther recently founded with the French law firm Fidal.

Asking the right questions and combining the relevant know-how

When accompanying digital projects, lawyers often have to shape tomorrow's world based on yesterday's laws. "DEEP provides lawyers with the basic technical and entrepreneurial knowledge needed to see the big picture, ask the right questions and bring together the necessary legal know-how," said Torsten Schneider, Director Human Resources at Luther and one of the initiators of the new format. Christian Kuß, lawyer and Partner from Luther's Information Tech & Telecommunications practice, who also played a significant part in developing DEEP, added: "Our consulting practice has shown that if you understand a technology in its context, you can classify it from a legal perspective. Only then will you know which additional colleagues with what know-how to involve in order to be able to provide the client with integrated advice."

The new format comprises three modules. In the "Tech for Law" module, renowned scientists from the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) will provide participants with the basic technical knowledge needed to understand digital services and value networks. In the "Business for Digital" module, experts from WHU will introduce the lawyers to the entrepreneurial side of digital business. Participants will come to understand how companies develop and implement business models and what start-ups do differently. In an exchange with experts from the Liquid Legal Institute, participants will additionally take a look at overarching future issues affecting legal advice and legal design. In the "Law for Tech" module, in-house experts from Luther will show what questions of law from the analog world need to be dealt with and how existing law needs to be adapted to take account of the new world. This applies to multiple fields of law, from antitrust to labor law and the protection and commercialization of data up to and including contract and liability law as well as general aspects of financial supervisory law, e.g. for fintech.

"This interdisciplinary training demonstrates that as business lawyers, we strive to provide our clients with guidance and with the greatest possible legal security for their investments in the future," said Dr. Markus Sengpiel, Co-Managing Partner at Luther, summarizing the approach.


Financial Times Open and Custom Directory 2021 reflects developments of WHU in the Executive Education sector

WHU- Otto Beisheim School of Management was listed in the recently published Financial Times Executive Education Open and Custom Directory 2021. Due to the hardships resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic, the Financial Times did not post classic official rankings of Executive Education programs of worldwide business schools this year.WHU was ranked #37 for the Open Programs in 2020. Instead, the data compilation of course directories on both open and customized online programs promotes the comparison and examination of several essential variables on any given business school, including location and revenue range.

Despite Covid-19, WHU has established a strong standing in the Executive Education market in Germany: In 2020, WHU conducted 33 Open Programs with 848 managers and executives participating in those online and on-site programs. Furthermore, 399 participants have been part of 34 Customized Programs (online and on-site).

According to Dr. Rebecca Winkelmann, Director Open Programs, “2020 was a difficult year for the Executive Education sector in terms of face-to-face events, but also led to many positive developments, e.g., faster digitalization and the introduction of a variety of online programs, such as the development of the new WHU flagship program ‘Leading beyond the crisis – An Online Advanced Management Program.’ In the current climate, demand for classic management topics among lower and middle management is very high.”

Online programs were well received by participants, particularly during the peak phase of the pandemic, especially considering that due to internal company travel restrictions, attendance would not have been possible. Short workshops in topics such as online negotiation were particularly appreciated and valued by participants.

Dr. Heike Brost-Steffens, Director Customized Programs, shares, “Many Companies often face a myriad of difficulties in the pandemic, balancing transparent communication, openness, and strategic communication to assuage employee concerns.” She believes that “leadership through and after the crisis is an important topic: companies are dependent on outside input at various levels due to the pandemic.”

During the crisis, teams suffered and continue to do so in terms of communication and motivation. Moreover, employees are personally affected by the crisis, which is often reflected in their quality of work. Therefore, executive development programs in leadership and coaching are even more critical today to rejuvenate teams, aid in the development of new ideas, and prepare for upcoming crises.


New online program “Leading beyond the crisis” launched successfully

In November 2020, a group of 42 selected senior professionals came together in a virtual format to reflect upon their individual leadership challenges in times of a pandemic. The group of senior professionals attended inspiring sessions on crisis leadership to prepare them for events that could happen during their future time as a leader. In addition, participants were encouraged to reflect upon their personal as well as organizational resilience to cope successfully with unforeseen and stress-provoking events and change.

“I am thrilled to see that we created an intimate learning environment so that our participants had the opportunity to discuss their personal leadership challenges”, says Dr. Rebecca Winkelmann, Managing Director WHU Executive Education, who initiated the “Leading beyond the crisis” program. High-profile guest speakers from different industries complemented the academic and self-reflection sessions. They shed light upon the challenges of their corporations during the pandemic, and gave insight into innovative solutions. Participants appreciated the possibilities to personally interact during the seminar and to learn from each other in a fully virtual environment. A few of them share their personal learnings and take-aways:

“The topic and curriculum of the seminar could not have been timelier. What impressed me most was the seniority of the participants and the speed at which a mutual sense of trust was formed which, even in a fully virtual classroom, quickly fostered highly valuable discussions and peer-group connections.“

Armin Häberle, Head of Business Media Division & Managing Director „Die Stiftung“ Media GmbH

“Leading beyond the crisis Program” defined leadership differently with exchanges of real-life experiences and nowhere-to-be-found group works. Leadership during a time of crisis will never be easy, but I feel I will be able to understand the meaning, reason, and purpose better and more importantly, convey this understanding to my team.”

Ali Inal, IT Director of Enerjisa Üretim

“The Leading beyond the crisis Program successfully directed our awareness and understanding of resilience. What does resilience mean for me, my team, and the organization? How to handle the first signs of misbalance? The well-experienced coach Karsten Drath helped us gain a deeper understanding, and the exchange with peers in the online break-out groups was extremely valuable.

Friday and Saturday were filled with insights from industry speakers and consecutive deep dives into resilience. We later summarized that it was especially good to see that we were not the only ones with concerns, challenges, and questions on what this challenging time of Covid-19 is doing to us and our work lives. A lot of food for thought!”

Jutta Kaiser, Head of Retail Development - Strategy & Governance @ Customer Support at BMW AG


Excellence in Management Education

WHU – Otto Beisheim School of Management

Erkrather Str. 224a
40233 Düsseldorf