In today’s business world, corporate decision-makers are confronted with a plethora of complex and discontinuous business challenges (“disruptions”) instigated by technology, market, business and institutional forces. Such forces can generate strategic problems that are poorly defined, have no obvious solutions or quick fixes, pose complex dilemmas, and require bold, decisive and novel forms of action. An innate ability to diagnose and manage these disruptions in advance is the foremost determinant companies achieving success over the long-term.
Managing Director Patrick Siebert and WHU - Otto Beisheim School of Management Professor Serden Ozcan are seeking to better understand the roles played by supervisory boards and management teams, the contributions they make, the playbooks they use and the challenges and frustrations they face in trying to keep their organizations one step ahead of these forces of disruption. Germany provides an interesting setting for our investigation in part because its leading businesses are not only diverse, they are active in industries that are experiencing disruption at a breakneck pace. Furthermore, German corporate governance has idiosyncratic attributes, such as a dual board structure. Moreover, supervisory boards are made up exclusively of non-executive members.
Patrick Siebert sees the study as providing deep insights for management in German corporations, stating, “Disruption is fundamentally changing the way the world works. It might be tempting to say that this has always been the case and is nothing new. Indeed, waves of disruptions have always been powerful engines for change. However, this time the dynamic is unprecedented due to the deep integration of politics, technologies, businesses and cultures. This interrelationship on multiple levels leads to an amplification of disruptive forces, calls the status quo into question and substantially alters the way we live.”
For this study, Patrick Siebert and Prof. Serden Ozcan conducted 20, face-to-face interviews with members of the supervisory boards and top management teams of some of Germany’s largest and most prominent businesses. The companies selected are active in a number of industries, including retail, steel, technology, consumer goods, chemicals, media, e-commerce, energy and real estate.
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