Prof. Christian Tröster, PhD

Associate Professor of Leadership and Organizational Behavior

Dr. Christian Tröster is Associate Professor of Leadership and Organizational Behavior at the KLU. A sociologist by trade, he received his PhD with a focus on organizational behavior from the Rotterdam School of Management (Erasmus University) (NL). He is a frequent visitor to top business schools around the world and had been a visiting Assistant Professor at the Singapore Management University from 2010-2011 before joining KLU.

In his research, Christian Tröster explores questions regarding people’s selves and their identity. Specifically, he investigates why people often respond in adverse and sometimes self-defeating ways when they do less well than others and how they can develop ways to use this information for their benefit. Second, he is interested in how one’s identity influences a person’s behavior in a culturally diverse workforce to understand why diverse groups often underperform in comparison to more homogeneous teams (and to change this). Finally, he uses (social) psychological theory to research how people shape and at the same time are being shaped by the complex – and to them often unknown - patterns of social networks surrounding them. His research has been published in top-tier journals and is currently funded by the DFG (Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft).

Dr. Christian Tröster teaches how to be more effective when dealing with people from other cultures (intercultural communication), how to better understand what motivates people in organizations (leadership and organizational behavior), and how companies can make better use of data (applied statistics). He teaches both students and executives in top-ranked programs and delivers trainings for companies around the globe.


Tel: +49 40 328707-246
Fax: +49 40 328707-209



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Selected Publications

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Abstract: Organizations often pay greater salaries to higher-ranking executives compared to lower-ranking executives. While this method can be useful for retaining those at the organization’s apex, it may also incline executives at the bottom of the pay pyramid to see themselves at a disadvantage and thus exit the firm. Naturally, organizations often want to retain some of their lower-paid, but highly valuable executives; the question, then, is how organizations can reduce the turnover of lower-ranking executives. By integrating social with temporal comparison theory, we argue that, when executives earn relatively less than their peers, more pay growth (i.e., individual pay increases over time) leads to less turnover. By the same token, we also argue that pay growth is unrelated to the turnover of executives who already earn substantially more than their peers. The results of our analysis, which covered almost 20 years of objective data on a large sample of U.S. top executives, provide support for our theory.

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Abstract: Despite self-determination and person-environment fit theories being comprised of several common key components, rarely have these theoretical frameworks been integrated. Both self-determination and person-environment fit theories highlight the importance of individuals’ need satisfactions and motivations. For example, self-determination theory highlights the importance of the reasons for goal pursuit in predicting individual well-being. Similarly, in person-environment fit theories, employee-environment value congruence is important because values influence outcomes through goals (motivation). The article begins by discussing the similarities and differences between these two theoretical frameworks, then devotes attention to integrating these frameworks and presenting an agenda for future research. It also discusses social network theory and research and highlights the potential usefulness of integrating these lines of research. A main premise of the article’s analysis is that self-determination theory is likely a useful framework for better understanding the processes through which person-environment fit influences employee outcomes.

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Copy reference link   DOI: 10.1016/j.obhdp.2014.04.003

Abstract: This longitudinal study used data from 91 self-managed teams (456 individuals, 60 nationalities) to examine the interactive effects of a team’s task (“workflow”) network structure and its cultural diversity (as indexed by nationality) on the team’s “potency” (i.e., the team’s confidence in its ability to perform) and its performance (as rated by expert judges). We found that whereas the emergence of dense task networks enhanced team potency it was the emergence of (moderately) centralized task networks that facilitated team performance. These varied structural effects, moreover, were themselves contingent on team composition: the more culturally diverse a team, the more pronounced were the positive effects of network density on team potency and the higher the level of network centralization required for optimal team performance. The success of a team appears to hinge on the interplay between network structure and team composition.

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Copy reference link   DOI: 10.1007/s10551-012-1287-5

Abstract: We investigate how social comparison processes in leader treatment quality impact group members’ self-worth, affect, and behavior. Evidences from the field and the laboratory suggest that employees who are treated kinder and more considerate than their fellow group members experience more self-worth and positive affect. Moreover, the greater positive self-implications of preferentially treated group members motivate them more strongly to comply with norms and to engage in tasks that benefit the group. These findings suggest that leaders face an ethical trade-off between satisfying the moral standard of treating everybody equally well and satisfying individual group members’ desire to be treated better than others.

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Copy reference link   DOI: 10.1057/jibs.2012.15

Abstract: We argue that leader-directed voice (i.e., communicating critical suggestions for change to the leader) is a relational phenomenon, and that it is affected by an inherent feature of multinational teams: members’ (dis)similarities in nationality. We tested our hypotheses in a sample of middle managers who were working in multinational teams. The results of this study show that leaders of multinational teams are more likely to profit from the local know-how of employees from underrepresented nationalities when they are open to their ideas, and when they have the same nationality. The study also shows that the effects of being open to employees’ ideas and sharing the same nationality are mediated by affective commitment and psychological safety, respectively. We discuss how, even though the current relational demography perspective with its dichotomous understanding of (dis)similarity is not suited to capture the dynamics of cultural differences, it does set the stage for future studies to examine the cultural dynamics behind an individual's experience of being different from other team members in multinational teams. We also discuss the practical implications of these findings for multinational companies.

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Academic positions

Associate Professor of Leadership and Organizational Behavior, Kühne Logistics University, GER

Visiting Assistant Professor at Saunder Business School, University of British Columbia, Vancouver/CAN

2011 - 2016

Assistant Professor of Leadership and Organizational Behavior, Kühne Logistics University, GER


Visiting Assistant Professor at Singapore Management University, Lee Kong Chian School of Business, SIN


Visiting Researcher at Singapore Management University, Lee Kong Chian School of Business, SIN


Visiting Researcher at Links Centre, Gatton College of Business and Economics, University of Kentucky, USA


Internship at the Interuniversity Center for Social Science Theory and Methodology (ICS) at the University of Groningen, NL



Ph.D. in Management at the Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University Rotterdam, NL


MSc. in Sociology at the University of Groningen, NL


BSc. in Sociology at the University of Groningen, NL