MBS Master’s Thesis on Digital Competence in the Board Rooms of Germany’s 150 largest Mittelstand Companies Gets Featured by Handelsblatt

Photo of the Handelsblatt article that featured the master's thesis submitted at Munich Business School

MBS student Nassima Ahmadzay managed something incredible with her Master’s thesis: Her thesis was picked up by the German business and financial newspaper Handelsblatt in an article about digital governance.

It is an absolute rarity that a Master’s thesis receives the highest grade and is even picked up by one of the leading business magazines on the day of the final presentation. MBS student in the International Business Master’s program Nassima Ahmadzay succeeded in doing just that with her final thesis “Digitalization Competence in Board Rooms of the German Mittelstand”. On May 27, 2021, Handelsblatt cited findings from the master’s thesis supervised by MBS professor Marc-Michael Bergfeld and Dr. Stefan Sambol from the digital consultancy OMMAX.

“If our research in this excellent Master’s thesis of Nassima Ahmadzay and the repeated collaboration with OMMAX can draw the public attention to the need to build an inter-generational knowledge bridge in the board rooms, and not only discuss an abstract problem, we are actively supporting the future of family businesses – and that is exactly our mission!” says Marc-Michael Bergfeld, Professor at Munich Business School and director of the research, education and advisory boutique Courage Partners Group, delighted with the feature in Handelsblatt.

The Master’s thesis looks at five key competencies for digital transformation in the board rooms of the 150 largest family-controlled businesses in Germany. To this end, the study reviewed a total of 615 board members and their curricula vitae in order to analyze their experience in the digital domain .Amongst other details, the study found that 84% of board members do not show particular experience in setting-up or implementing digital business models and only 5% of board members have gained prior experience in supervising and implementing a digital transformation process in similar companies.

“We are happy to be able to help shape the public discussion about the need for digitalization and digital expertise in the Mittelstand. This study is the first large scale analysis in the field that approaches the topic from a quantitative and qualitative angle. It reviewed the track record of the individuals in the Mittelstand’s board rooms, scored the insights and added expert interviews to the analysis”, explains Professor Bergfeld.

Dr. Sambol adds: “Data-focussed discussions about digital transformation and business models are essential in today’s board rooms for true value creation. Given that only 12% of the analyzed board members had experience in these areas, there is a clear need to act!”. The clear and urgent suggestion of the expert team is therefore: let the next generation of digital natives contribute their knowledge into the boardroom, even if they are just advisors to your board!

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