Professor Steffen Giessner to research how people behave in organisations

Steffen Giessner has been appointed endowed Professor of Organisational Behaviour and Change at Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University (RSM), a new academic chair created to promote research and teaching into people management and leadership of organisational change processes.

Professor Giessner‘s appointment is endowed by the De Vereniging Trustfonds (Erasmus Trust Fund) and came on 1 March 2015. His research addresses human behaviour and adaptation in organisations through systematic investigations of processes at individual, team and organisational levels. This involves topics such as leadership, identity management, and employees’ adaptation to change.

Much of his research studies employee adaptation during mergers of organisation as well as the impact of leaders’ behaviour on employees, the antecedents of such behaviour, and the relationships between leaders and followers. For example, Giessner’s recent research investigates how much leaders should empower their followers. Empowerment is generally considered an effective leadership behaviour, but Professor Giessner and his colleague Sut I Humborstad have shown that its effectiveness is limited to match the expectation of the follower.

Factors emerging in the last 100 years

A range of factors have required companies to readjust their internal and external communication strategies and to be more concerned with employees’ ethical behaviours. These changes pose new threats but also new opportunities for organisational leaders, says Giessner.

 “The last century has been characterised by several important changes in the work environment and as a result by fundamental changes in the workforce and the work itself. It’s due to globalisation and better education and it has resulted in more diverse but highly skilled workforces.

“In addition new technologies are reshaping industries and ways of working, requiring constant re-adjustment from employees and management. Internationally, there is increased economic turbulence and competition for resources with the opening of new markets in China, Russia and India. Finally, social trends such as social media and the aging Western workforce also affect business.”

Useful information for organisational leaders

Research from Giessner and his colleagues will produce useful information for organisational leaders and managers. “The study of organisational behaviour in general and specifically organisational change has become an important management topic for practitioners as well as scientists,” he said.

Steffen Giessner obtained his master's degree in psychology from the University of Kent at Canterbury, and his PhD in Psychology from the Friedrich-Schiller-University Jena, Germany. He has authored and co-authored papers in organisational behaviour, management, and psychology. His research received media coverage in outlets like the New York Times, Financial Times, The Guardian, Harvard Business Review, Harvard Business Manager and Wall Street Journal.

More information

Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University (RSM) is ranked amongst Europe’s top 10 business schools for education and amongst the top three for research. RSM provides ground-breaking research and education furthering excellence in all aspects of management and is based in the international port city of Rotterdam - a vital nexus of business, logistics and trade. RSM’s primary focus is on developing business leaders with international careers who carry their innovative mindset into a sustainable future thanks to a first-class range of bachelor, master, MBA, PhD and executive programmes. RSM’s executive education and alumni support services are also offered from its office in the Amsterdam Zuidas business district.

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