Matthias Sohn, European University Viadrina, in an interview with Evelyn Countess Pachta, Leadership Excellence Institute Zeppelin | LEIZ
Your appointment to the European University Viadrina means you are about to take your next career step. What has changed for you here at ZU in terms of your personal development?
I already knew during my doctorate that an academic career was an option for me. When I was offered a post-doctoral position at ZU, it immediately became clear to me that I had to accept it. At the LEIZ I was able to further hone my scientific profile, also thanks to the generous personnel and financial resources provided by the Karl Schlecht Foundation. This gave me great freedom in research and the opportunity to carry out a large number of projects. During this time I was able to benefit a great deal from Carmen Tanner's excellence in empirical research. In addition, there was collegial and friendly cooperation with my colleagues at the LEIZ, which created a pleasant working atmosphere. The fact that the time at the LEIZ and the cooperation with Carmen Tanner and her colleagues was so successful confirms in retrospect that I definitely made the right decision.
You spent a little more than four years at Zeppelin University in a research and teaching position at the LEIZ. Which topics did you mainly deal with?
The main topic of my research was and is ethical decision-making in organisations. I focus on the behaviour of managers and the resulting consequences for different stakeholders in the organisation. Here, for example, we looked at how the perceived honesty of CEOs affects the investment decisions of investors, or how the narcissism of managers affects the behaviour of their employees.
When you place your scientific work in the contextuality of a private university such as ZU and LEIZ, what are your conclusions?
In my opinion, ZU has a special position not only because of its strong student commitment in its courses, but also because of its many student initiatives. The great commitment of the students could also be seen in most of the Bachelor and Master theses I supervised. Some of these were outstanding and the students I supervised are now doing their doctorates at prestigious universities such as the University of St. Gallen or the École supérieure de commerce de Paris (ESCP).
The methodology of scientific work in the field of economic psychology and behavioural ethics is very long-term. What happens to the projects you have initiated?
The many exciting projects that Carmen Tanner and I were able to initiate will be finalised together after my time at the LEIZ. The projects that we started with partners from other major research institutes (such as the University of Geneva or ESSEC Paris) will continue for some time.
What will you teach at the European University Viadrina and what are your research plans? What opportunities do you see?
I would like to continue to address the ethical decisions of managers in organisations. At European University Viadrina, the focus will shift somewhat away from the individual towards organisational factors, for example, how executive remuneration and the design of control systems affect ethical behaviour in organisations.
ZU was a very special place for you. Surely this also applies to your new environment? What is the special appeal of the European University Viadrina to you? Why did you choose Viadrina?
Viadrina was not my only option. However, I explicitly chose the Viadrina, because it allows me to pursue my research interests in an inspiring research environment. The Viadrina is designed for international students and supports international research collaboration similar to the way ZU does.
I think I speak for all my colleagues at LEIZ when I wish you all the best at Viadrina. Thank you very much for the interview!
LEIZ Communication Management
Viadrina European University (German: Europa-Universität Viadrina Frankfurt (Oder).The city is on the Oder River, which marks the border between Germany and Poland. With 5,200 students — around 1,000 of whom come from Poland — and some 160 teaching staff, the Viadrina is one of Germany's smallest universities (only the University of Erfurt and Jacobs University Bremen have fewer students).
In 1991 the university was re-established as Viadrina European University. It currently comprises three faculties: Economics and Business Studies; Law; and Cultural Studies. A prime focus of the educational program is to attract students from throughout Europe in order to create a multinational student body. Currently about 40 percent of the students are foreigners (mostly Polish), a greater proportion than at other German universities. It offers degrees in English, German and Polish
Viadrina European University maintains close cooperation with Adam Mickiewicz University in Poznań, Poland. The two universities jointly operate the Collegium Polonicum, located just opposite Viadrina on the Polish side of the Oder River.
Notable among the research institutions at Viadrina University is the Frankfurt Institute of Transformational Studies (FIT). The Institute is a substantial contributor to research on economies in transition.