I am fascinated by the organization society we live in. With a background in the humanities and an eclectic bookshelf behind me, my eyes are firmly focused on innovative ways of managing organizations: How to develop strategies that lead to sustainable future value creation? How to design agile and open organisations with innovative cultures in response? How manage organizational transformation and change? And how to develop brands that engage with external environments and communities? Pursuing these questions, the aim of my work is to stretch the organizational imagination of practitioners and scholars alike. The papers and books I have published including Plan B (in German; Murmann Verlag), Making Things Valuable (Oxford University Press) und Brand Society (Cambridge University Press) are manifestations of my interest in what is possible, perhaps sometimes at the cost of what is probable (to paraphrase Albert O. Hirschman).
I was born in small village in Austria in 1974. I read philosophy, political science, psychology, law and sociology at the University of Vienna. I loved philosophy. While I was convinced about its importance, I was less convinced whether the intellectual isolation in which the philosophy department lingered was helpful. During my masters thesis I decided to look over the fence and analyse business practices from a philosophical perspective. I liked it – so much indeed, that I jumped over that fence and developed my PhD as interdisciplinary project inquiring new practices of organizing.
Based on my project I became one of the Austrian Academy of Sciences’ recipients of the prestigious DOC Scholarship. As part of the scholarship I visited the University of Technology in Sydney in 2001. The initial plan was to stay for three months – which turned into nine eventful years.
I started my first academic appointment at UTS, splitting my time between the School of Management and School of Design in the Faculty of Design, Architecture and Building. With a couple of friends I started experimenting at the interface of business, design and creativity. We developed Sydney Esquisse, one of Australia’s most exciting art and design festivals which run for several years and attracted hundreds of thousand people. For a couple of years I worked as co-editor in chief of (inside) Australian Design Review which was a fascinating journey into the world of design and creativity. Finally, with two partners I founded and directed what became Australia’s best-known brand experience agency, PLAY Communications. PLAY delivered brand strategies and experiences for clients including PricewaterhouseCoopers, ISS, MINI, Adobe, GlaxoSmithKline, Kellog’s, Subaru, Jaguar, The Sydney Opera House and others. In 2012 PLAY was sold successfully to the global communications network WPP. While I was experiencing the pleasures and sorrows of being an entrepreneur, my ongoing love affair with research took the better of me.
Today, I concentrate on writing, researching and working with managers and those who are managed around the globe. My current institutional home-base is EM Lyon where I am a professor in the department of strategy and organization. As briefly mentioned, previously I worked at the University of Technology in Sydney as associate professor for design and management and research director of the Australian Government’s Creative Industry Innovation Centre and also at Copenhagen Business School. Over the years I had (have) the privilege to work as visiting professor at the University of Edinburgh Business School, the WU Vienna, Stockholm University Business School, KTH Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm, the University of Innsbruck, MGSM (Sydney) and St. Andrews University which provided stimulating homes away from home.