Professor in the Spotlight: 3 Questions for Prof. Dr. Alexandra Hauser

Portrait of Dr. Alexandra Hauser, Professor at Munich Business School

In this interview series, we introduce MBS lecturers on a regular basis, give an insight into their research projects and explain how corporate practice and students benefit from these. Today it is the turn of the newly appointed MBS Professor Dr. Alexandra Hauser, who will take over the professorship for Responsible Leadership in September 2022.

MBS Insights: Dear Ms. Hauser, congratulations on your new professorship for Responsible Leadership at Munich Business School. What do you deal with in your research and which exciting research projects are you currently working on?

Prof. Dr. Alexandra Hauser: Thank you very much, I am very happy to now be a firm part of MBS and to work in such a friendly and competent team!

In my research, I am concerned with the overarching theme of Responsible Leadership – that is, the question of the areas and situations in which leaders do or do not demonstrate responsible managerial behavior, as well as the “why” of doing so.

As a psychologist, I am particularly interested in the human aspect, i.e., the influence of motives, attitudes, implicit beliefs, moral convictions, etc. It is also interesting to see what role structures in an organization play. What influence do opportunities for lifelong learning, such as leadership development or coaching and mentoring, have on leadership behavior? How can you check whether this is effective?

People also often approach me with the very practical question of what responsible leadership behavior should actually look like in today’s world. Are different things important now in our digital age than in the past? How is it when some people work in the office and the rest from home, what do I have to do differently?

In our performance society, which is not always so conducive to health, the question of how and whether managers succeed in showing responsibility to themselves is also relevant. Do they succeed in striking a balance between enthusiasm and detachment at work in order to remain mentally and physically healthy? And in what way should and can executives take responsibility for the environment, or even greater, the planet? Here we are already in the area of sustainability.

As you can see, there is a lot behind the term Responsible Leadership. I am very much looking forward to working with my fellow professors on joint projects on these topics and demonstrating the various facets of responsible leadership.

MBS Insights: In your opinion, which aspects of your research are particularly interesting for students and how do you incorporate this into your teaching?

Prof. Dr. Alexandra Hauser: Again and again, I notice quite banally: Most people are interested in people. How they function, what drives them – and learning things about themselves by reflecting on this is very exciting for most people. So I always try to bring the exciting findings from psychology to the forefront in my courses. Not only from my research, but of course I also talk in general about classic and highly topical studies from social psychology, industrial and organizational psychology or even theories from the field of philosophy – and then make the connection to the business context. My enthusiasm for this broader field is unbroken, and I try to convey this and to awaken the enthusiasm for psychology as such among the students.

MBS Insights: And how does practice benefit from your research?

Prof. Dr. Alexandra Hauser: Leadership is in itself a topic with a high practical relevance. The same applies to self-leadership or the reconciliation of life spheres, leadership development, etc. For me personally, it is also very important that my research has a practical component. I have always seen myself as a bridge builder between the “worlds” of science and practice. This also goes beyond research: In my teaching, I consider it very important to sharpen my students’ awareness of the practical relevance of findings and theories. Good research and good teaching then always include good scientific communication, which is a very important link to practice. After all, what good are the most exciting findings if a) no one understands them and b) no one learns about them? Then everyone is frustrated and makes up their own mind about the wonders of human behavior. And that doesn’t always end well. Or to put it positively: More basic knowledge about psychology in a business context, and especially in the field of business administration, is a win-win for everyone! And it”s exciting, too.