Corona: Successful First Time Online Q&A at KLU

What consequences does the corona crisis have on our economy, and how can companies and those responsible cope with them? On April 2, professors from KLU were available to answer questions in a preliminary Q&A session. They were joined by more than 200 international participants online. Discussions focused on supply chains and questions of management and corporate governance.

"We are delighted with the extraordinary response to this event and the quality and high level of discussion," said Juan Pablo del Valle, Executive Education, who was interlocutor for the Q&A session.

Working from Home as a Challenge

Working from home was a central topic in several of the nine sessions. As a result of the often sudden shift, new challenges have come up for both employees and managers. “Due to the lack of direct contact there is also a lack of important interpersonal information which is conveyed, for example, through body language,” commented Niels Van Quaquebeke, Professor for Leadership and Organizational Behavior at KLU. “Digital tools need to therefore be used consciously to counteract this. For example, participants should not mute themselves in the video chat until about ten persons are present. Frequently summarizing aids in the reaching of a common understanding. Lastly, managers should wait and give their opinions at the end as they might otherwise stifle the already difficult discussion,” he advised.

At the same time, working from home can also have positive aspects, especially when it comes to working more flexibly. “The freedom to organize projects independently can reduce stress,” said Prisca Brosi, Professor of Human Resource Management. On the other hand, dedicated employees in particular often find it difficult to draw clear boundaries and not be permanently available. “Clear communication and unambiguous coordination with managers and colleagues are particularly important here,” she added.

Far-Reaching Consequences

How can the supply of critical goods such as ventilators or breathing masks be ensured when they are in such current high demand? Kai Hoberg, Professor for Supply Chain and Operations Strategy, dealt with ad-hoc supply chains for medical devices in his session. He currently sees that the state has a particular duty in this area: “Due to the extremely high global demand, importing masks is not enough. It has to be coordinated with companies in Germany about who will manufacture which components and products. In addition, there has to be certainty as to what quantities will be purchased, even when the crisis is over.”

“It will take about two years until supply chains have fully stabilized and recovered,” estimated Jan Fransoo, Professor for Operations Management and Logistics at KLU in his session on the management of the supply chain in times of crisis. The most important thing now is to reduce costs and inventory in order to survive the crisis and prepare for the next phase—post-crisis reconstruction.

Successful Format

"The wide-reaching effects of this format and the great interest it stimulated in practical discussions shows the need for further similar events,” reported Dr. Michael Lübbehusen, Academic Director Executive Education. Based on current experience, repeating the format, for example with a focus on the new start of the economy after the current crisis phase has subsided, would be entirely conceivable.  

More information:

"Impact of Covid-19 Crisis on Logistics Systems and Supply Chains" by Prof. Alan McKinnon:

  • Presentation, Q&A on April 2nd
  • Dossier: 18 issues raised in Q&A (April 2nd) and links to over 70 articles, reports and websites