Masters in Leadership

Blog of the Master Programme Leadership

October 22, 2013
by Prof. Dr. Lutz Becker
1 Comment

Norway. The Third Season Already.

Thanks to my colleague Professor Hong Wu, I was invited to teach at Høgskolen i Østfold in Fredrikstad (a partner University of Karlshochschule) for the third time this autumn. While I was teaching Change and Innovation in 2011 and 2012, I taught Marketing this year. Since I have been working with Norwegian companies for many years, it was a great opportunity to combine own business experience both as a consultant and a the general manager of a Norwegian company in Germany with my academic research and teaching.


Furthermore I asked a group of students from my other study program “International Marketing” to join me on the trip. I tried to focus my lectures on business between Norway and Germany and the challenges of business between smaller and bigger countries in general. And this is what my students wrote about their trip and their learning experience im Norway:

“[…]Our first impression [of the Høgskolen i Østfold in Fredrikstad, LB] was very positive. In our opinion, the university is kind of a bigger Karlshochschule, at least the building we have been taught in. With nearly 3.000 students it is much taller, however, there are plenty of group rooms available. Also, the size of the classes and the transparent architecture is familiar to us.

When we entered our classroom on Tuesday morning we were warmly welcomed by our new temporary classmates, in total 25. Most of them are much older than we are. A 50-year-old guy, who is working during the weekends, managing his family and still having the energy to take a full-time class, is really impressing.

In our lectures, most of the time we were talking about marketing, especially the differences in marketing and business between Norway and Germany. We learnt a lot about the Norwegian market – we had, for example, a guest lecture from Bayer’s head of Norway (Torstein Myhre), and he explained to us, why Bayer isn’t that big in the Norwegian market: In the past, they refused to sell Aspirin as a powder, however the Norwegian pharmacies wanted to keep the powder and therefore stopped selling Bayer’s Aspirin. […]

Our “final” task was to give a lecture on a case study. Our new friends, studying “Innovation and Project-Management” had to develop a new product and a market-entry strategy for the German market. They were able to apply their gained knowledge from Prof. Becker’s lectures, and did an awesome job in doing so.
We spent the remaining two days of our stay in the capital of Norway. Oslo is a beautiful city, as you can see from the embedded pictures. Apart from one incident, we really had a nice stay: Unfortunately, one of our purses was stolen on the very first day in Oslo, and we spent the next morning at the local police (because they refused to help us the day before). However, we enjoyed our short visit, but also looked forward to the German prices.”

I think the students really enjoyed their stay in Norway and learned quite a lot. I myself enjoyed the opportunity to work with local companies like the above mentioned Bayer nordic, Kaluna and Loyds, the developer of the Paxter electronic vehicle. In Norway eMobility is widely accepted, especially since electric cars receive many benefits such as tax reduction, free parking and the permission to use bus lanes.

But also the cultural aspects of the trip where quite exiting, Hong Wu and I visited some bronze age places. For me it was quite impressing how already early trade could lead to the expansion and mixing of cultures.

March 15, 2013
by Prof. Dr. Lutz Becker
2 Comments

I think it was back in 2009 when Andreas P. Müller and I first had the idea to start a common research project on “Narrative and Innovation”. Our idea was to bring two views, the narrative and innovation, together. Our basic hypothesis was (and still is) that narratives are the forerunners of new social and economical issues and developments. Nevertheless we were also aware of the fact that only a broad range of technical, economic and social views could help us to understand this phenomenon. So we asked practitioners and faculty from various backgrounds and countries to contribute.

Narrative and Innovation - The BookIn 2010 we hosted the first international conference on “Narrative and Innovation“. Our newly released book on Narrative and Innovation condenses the finding of the conference and adds some really groundbreaking new findings.

“Narratives are ubiquitous and hold the potential to indicate future changes in politics, economies and markets. As “stressors” and stabilizers in organizations, narratives and changes in the consensus narrative indicate the need for strategic change or organizational stasis and may be utilized as a source for early recognition in strategic management. The use of narratives in management, however, makes it necessary to adopt a new perspective. This volume offers a polyphonic forum for the development of an interpretive approach towards business administration, strategic management, and entrepreneurship, by introducing instruments of semiotics, linguistics, narratology, and others. This compilation, therefore, presents a comprehensive overview of scientific and industrial perspectives beyond the mainstream.” [Source: Springer VS (15.03.2013)]

The book displays a game changing approach to Foresight, Innovation and Strategic Leadership. It is a “must read” for both faculty and practitioners interested in really new perspectives on change and innovation.

We are looking forward to receiving feedback from our readers and discussing the topic with the community.

Müller, Andreas P./Becker, Lutz (des.) (2013): Narrative & Innovation. Heidelberg. Springer VS.

October 16, 2012
by Prof. Dr. Lutz Becker
0 comments

A historic case

Tamara and Julien are students in International Business at Karlshochschule International University who currently spend their semester aboard in Brest/France. They asked me to send them a brief video statement for a presentation on the history of business.

I always thought it is important to know about history, but the more I deal with and learn about Innovation Management and Business Development the more I believe it is really important to gain a certain understanding of our economic and cultural history. It first of all helps us to answer three questions that are, for example, important for the strategic positioning of businesses:

“Why are we here?”
“How did we get here?

and even more important

“Why did we get here?

Also it may sound like an oxymoron at a first glance, but there is even far more to learn from history. The way we are doing business is deeply embedded into our cultural minds, it is a product of cultural heritage. We consciously or unconsciously adapt and modify ideas and behavioral patterns from our ancestors, abolish or improve them. And when thinking about innovation and new business strategies, we should always keep in mind that there always will be a tension between the heritage and the new. Innovation can only succeed in markets (and the society) if it overcomes the tension in one way or the other. Or as Reinhard Pfriem uses to say: “Strategies are cultural offerings to our societies.” They can be accepted, refused or modified by the recipients.

For Tamara and Julien I decided to describe briefly a historic case about intellectual property which will also be subject to a column I will publish these days.

One of my core theses has always been that “the citation and its variation” are the drivers of technical, scientific, cultural or societal innovation – the key to prosperity. Or the other way round: Insisting on property rights has never led to technical, scientific or societal advancements.

I think that my little video statement might be interesting for our students in the master’s program “Leadership” too. So here it is:

As you can see there are some ethical questions in here. Please think about them and take take the opportunity to discuss the case with with your peers.

Sources:

Becker, L./Witt, F. H./Hakensohn, H. (2012); Unternehmen nachhaltig führen; Düsseldorf (Symposion)
Headrick, D. R. (2009); Technology – A World History; Oxford (Oxford University Press)
Ridley, M. (2011); The Rational Optimist; London (Fourth Estate): 7
Rosenthal, H. (1969, 1972, 1975): Solingen – Geschichte einer Stadt, 3. Bände: Duisburg (Walter Braun Verlag)

September 26, 2012
by Prof. Dr. Lutz Becker
4 Comments

Doing Business in China

Deniz Sakaoglu holds a degree from Karlshochschule International University‘s “International Business” program and a second Bachelor degree in European Business from Lincoln University in England. In 2008 the subject of his thesis at Karlshochschule was a consumer research about Doner Kebab in China. In his thesis at Karlshochschule Deniz had to solve a very tricky problem: How can you do consumer research on food, people do not know? After some tough discussions with his professor (me) he solved the question with bravado.

Sadly or luckily – this depends on the perspective – Deniz did not join our master program but decided to start his own business in China. After starting a Kebab production with several outlets in Lijang he and his partners now manage a venue with several restaurants in Beijing, the capital of China.

Here are the two parts of a video interview I had with Deniz in September 2012.

Part 1:

Part 2:

If you are in China, please visit Luga’s Bejing

July 18, 2012
by Prof. Dr. Lutz Becker
4 Comments

Intercultural Project Management

As you may know, the next Summer Academy on Intercultural Experience (http://summeracademy-karlsruhe.org/) will start in the first week of August this year. For the first time I will also give a lecture at our summer school on a topic we also use to address in the Master’s Program Leadership:

Intercultural Project Management

The course gives a first brief introduction regarding theory and tools of intercultural project management and the role of a project manager in intercultural settings. It challenges project thinking and opens perspectives for a career in international project management.

What is a project?

A project is complex endeavor limited in time and scope. To appreciate the impact of project management on our economy and society, a deep culture-driven understanding of labor division from the earliest stages to the projectifyed „Weltgesellschaft“ (Luhmann) of the 21st century seems to be necessary.

What makes a good project manager?

Successful project management is strongly related to own daily experience in real projects. Nevertheless theoretical and expert knowledge are key to successful project management.

A good project manager is able to deal with social and structural complexity. She or he appreciates to play with the complexity and has both the individual capability and the tools to reduce it. The good project manager is an excellent leader without always having the formal authority but being able to select the right people for the tasks to be done, to motivate these people and solve conflicts within the team.

She or he is a person that loves structured communication, keeps people always updated and aligns the interests of the stakeholders.

What is intercultural project management?

First of all intercultural settings add (social) complexity to the project. It‘s the project managers task to exploit the benefits of different world views on one hand and – on the other hand – to avoid limitations by making inclusion happen.

Leading in projects and leading with projects are among the core topics in the module “Conceptual Leadership” this winter term.