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First HPBM Program from IESE and WHU Successfully Completed

WHU – Otto Beisheim School of Management and the IESE Business School have offered their first-ever joint program for top-level managers. The High-Performance Board Member Program (HPBM program), which took place between November 2021 and February 2022, was met with considerable positive reception from participants.

The program modules took place across seven days at three different locations: the WHU campus in Düsseldorf and the IESE campuses in Munich and Barcelona. The group of participants comprised 19 “C-level” leaders active in various industries, including software, media, engineering, corporate consulting, and energy. Hailing from Portugal, Spain, Poland, Russia, Turkey, and Germany, these high-level executives are active in their companies as CEOs, CFOs, executive vice presidents, managing directors, and other capacities.

The program is targeted at executives from all industries who are either preparing to enter or are already active in the boardroom. Professor Markus Rudolf, Dean of WHU and Academic Director of Executive Education, noted, “Unlike most other board programs, ours does not make technical knowledge the main focus. Instead, participants should learn how to ask the right questions and lead their companies strategically.”

The board members and supervisory board members meet with each other, the lecturers, and top-notch guest speakers on common ground to exchange ideas concerning the most pertinent challenges they face in their respective fields and discuss possible scenarios based on practical examples. The program’s small group maintains a confidential, safe environment to allow for such conversation.

“The HPBM program has given me perspective and self-confidence in the best practices of the boardroom and my role within it,” explained Javier A. García Sedano, Founder and Group Director at OPTIMITIVE, summarizing his experience. With two of the best business schools in all of Europe, along with their first-class faculty, the program offers us the chance to meet with top managers and executives from different countries. You get to learn from their experiences and gain a much broader view of the organization and functions of the boardroom. I really enjoyed it!”

This collaboration between WHU and IESE allows participants to earn a joint certificate from two excellent institutions that are both strong in research. In summarizing the goals of the program, Faculty Director, and holder of the Chair of Innovation and Corporate Transformation at WHU, Professor Serden Ozcan said, “The High-Performance Board Program broadens participants’ understanding of the key tasks, dynamics, and strategic challenges of the boardroom and equips them with action-oriented approaches.”

The next High-Performance Board Program is due to start in November 2022. Further information can be found on the program website.


Cooperation Between WHU and IESE Business School

On November 22, 2021, WHU – Otto Beisheim School of Management and IESE Business School jointly kicked-off the High-Performance Board Member Program at WHU Campus Düsseldorf. It was the first module of a seven-day program which is offered in cooperation by two of the most renowned business schools in Europe.

19 C-level executives from various industries such as Software, Media, Engineering, Non-Profit, Healthcare Services, Consulting, Manufacturing & Production, and Energy experienced a vivid program mix of interactive lectures and networking opportunities. Professor Markus Rudolf, Dean of WHU, was delighted to welcome the executives during the formal dinner on the first day. “It is great to see that two of the best business schools in Europe joined their forces to offer such a high-caliber program for senior executives. It was great to welcome them at our campus in Düsseldorf coming from Portugal, Spain, Poland, Russia, Turkey, and Germany. It makes me proud that we were able to welcome back some of our WHU alumni for the program,” said Professor Markus Rudolf.

During the first part of the program, which took three days, renowned faculty from IESE and WHU including Professor Marc Sachon (IESE), Professor Serden Özcan (WHU), Professor Govert Vroom (IESE), and Professor Martin Glaum (WHU) shared their knowledge on corporate boards, including insights on disruption, and financial reports. Furthermore, Dr. Christian Vocke (Baker & McKenzie) and Jürgen Steinemann (Supervisory Board, METRO AG), shared best practice insights during their guest lectures. Module two and three will take place at the respective IESE campuses in Munich and Barcelona in spring 2022.

The High-Performance Board Member Program is most suitable for executives currently serving on boards and next-generation leaders preparing to transition to a board role. It illustrates the main challenges and responsibilities of corporate boards while using examples taken from real-life scenarios. Additionally, the program offers an opportunity to discuss current challenges in strategic corporate management on an equal footing and in a protected space. It is meant to provide a highly practice-oriented approach and is the starting point of IESE’s and WHU’s fruitful cooperation.


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!


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.