Prof. Dr.
Niels Van Quaquebeke

Professor of Leadership and Organizational Behavior

Head of Management Department

Dr. Niels Van Quaquebeke is Professor of Leadership and Organizational Behavior and Head of the Management Department at the KLU. He is additionally affiliated (part-time) with the University of Exeter as a Distinguished Research Professor. He was recognised as one of the Top100 German speaking business scholars under 40 in the last two Handelsblatt rankings. A psychologist by training, he pursued his PhD at the University of Hamburg and as a visiting scholar at various business schools around the globe. In 2008, he received the ERIM top talent post-doc fellowship at the Rotterdam School of Management of the Erasmus University where he later also taught as an Assistant Professor.

In his research, Van Quaquebeke focuses on the issue of leadership. Among others, he explores the communicative basis of successful leadership, the importance of values, ways of leading ethically, and the function of interpersonal respect. He is involved in the Research Institute on Leadership and Operations in Humanitarian Aid (RILOHA), which seeks to enhance the effectiveness of humanitarian aid operations via psychological insights, the Exeter Centre for Leadership, and the Erasmus Centre for Leadership Studies.

Van Quaquebeke currently serves as Senior Associate Editor for The Leadership Quarterly (LQ) and on the editorial boards of Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes (OBHDP) and the Journal of Occupational and Organizational Psychology (JOOP). He was awarded repeated scholarships by Studienstiftung des deutschen Volkes (German National Academic Foundation) as well as an award by the German government for the innovative approach of the RespectResearchGroup which he headed for ten years. He received KLU’s best overall teaching award three times (2012, 2014, 2019). His recent research on "respectful inquiry” as a leadership tool received the biennial innovation award by the IO chapter of the German Psychological Society (DGPs). His work is frequently mentioned in the public media.

Before turning academic, Van Quaquebeke has worked in various internal and external consultancy roles. Today he bridges the gap from science to practice with his spin-off re|spic|ere,  as part of the teaching body within KLU's executive education, and by authoring a popular video-blended book on the “psychology of leadership".

Selected Publications

DOI: 10.1177/1094428117718627 

Abstract: While many disciplines embrace the possibilities that Big Data present for advancing scholarship and practice, organizational and management research has yet to realize Big Data’s potential. In an effort to chart this newfound territory, we briefly describe the principal drivers and key characteristics of Big Data. We then review a broad range of opportunities and risks that are related to the Big Data paradigm, the data itself, and the associated analytical methods. For each, we provide research ideas and recommendations on how to embrace the potentials or address the concerns. Our assessment shows that Big Data, as a paradigm, can be a double- edged sword, capable of significantly advancing our field but also causing backlash if not utilized properly. Our review seeks to inform individual research practices as well as a broader policy agenda in order to advance organizational and management research as a scientifically rigorous and professionally relevant field.

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Open reference in new window "The Double-Edged Sword of Big Data in organizational and management research: A Review of Opportunities and Risks"

DOI: 10.1037/apl0000281 

Abstract: The extant social undermining literature suggests that employees envy and, consequently, undermine coworkers when they feel that these coworkers are better off and thus pose a threat to their own current status. With the present research, we draw on the sociofunctional approach to emotions to propose that an anticipated future status threat can similarly incline employees to feel envy toward, and subsequently undermine, their coworkers. We argue that employees pay special attention to coworkers' past development in relation to their own, because faster-rising coworkers may pose a future status threat even if they are still performing worse in absolute terms in the present. With a set of two behavioral experiments (N = 90 and N = 168), we establish that participants react to faster-rising coworkers with social undermining behavior when the climate is competitive (vs. less competitive). We extended these results with a scenario experiment (N = 376) showing that, in these situations, participants extrapolate lower future status than said coworker and thus respond with envy and undermining behavior. A two-wave field study (N = 252) replicated the complete moderated serial mediation model. Our findings help to explain why employees sometimes undermine others who present no immediate threat to their status. As such, we extend theorizing on social undermining and social comparison.

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Open reference in new window "Keeping (future) rivals down: Temporal social comparison predicts coworker social undermining via future status threat and envy"

DOI: 10.5465/amr.2014.0537 

Abstract: Practitioners repeatedly note that the everyday behavior of asking followers open questions and attentively listening to their responses is a powerful leadership technique. Yet, despite such popularity, these practices are currently under-theorized. Addressing this gap, we formally define the behavioral configuration of asking open questions combined with attentive listening as “Respectful Inquiry”, and then draw on Self-Determination Theory to provide a motivational account of its antecedents, consequences, and moderators within a leader-follower relationship. Specifically, we argue that Respectful Inquiry principally satisfies followers' basic psychological needs for competence, relatedness, and autonomy. Against this background, we highlight ironic contexts where Respectful Inquiry is likely to be especially rare, but would also be especially valuable. These ironic contexts include situations where interpersonal power difference, time pressure, physical distance, cognitive load, follower dissatisfaction, or organizational control focus are high. We additionally outline how the effect of Respectful Inquiry behaviors critically hinges upon the interaction history a follower has with a leader. More generally, we make the suggestion that the leadership field would benefit from complementing its traditional focus on “gestalt” leadership styles with research on concrete and narrow communicative behaviors, such as Respectful Inquiry.

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Open reference in new window "Respectful inquiry: A motivational account of leading through asking questions and listening"

DOI: 10.1016/j.leaqua.2017.01.001 

Abstract: Charismatic leaders have consistently been shown to affect followers’ performance, motivation, and satisfaction. Yet, what precisely constitutes charisma still remains somewhat enigmatic. So far, research has mainly focused on leader traits, leader behaviors, or the leader follower- relationship, and the subsequent consequences of each on followers’ self-concepts. All of these approaches share the notion that leader charisma depends on an explicit interaction between leader and follower. With the present review paper, we extend extant theorizing by arguing that charisma is additionally informed by embodied signals that flow directly from either the leader or the immediate environment. We introduce the embodiment perspective on human perception and describe its utility for theoretically understanding the charismatic effect. Correspondingly, we review studies that show which concrete embodied cues can support the charismatic effect. Finally, we discuss the variety of new theoretical and practical implications that arise from this research and how they can complement existing approaches to charismatic leadership.

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Open reference in new window "The aura of charisma: A review on the embodiment perspective as signaling"

Academic Positions


Visiting Scholar at Business School, University of Western Australia, AUS


Visiting Scholar at Business School, University of Otago, NZ

Since 2013

Full Professor of Leadership and Organizational Behavior at Kühne Logistics University, GER


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


Director of RespectResearchGroup, GER


Assistant Professor of Organizational Behavior at Erasmus University Rotterdam, Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus Research Institute in Management & Erasmus Centre for Leadership Studies, NL


Postdoctoral Research Fellow (Top Talent Program) Erasmus University Rotterdam, Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus Research Institute in Management & Erasmus Centre for Leadership Studies, NL


Visiting Scholar at University of New South Wales, Australian Graduate School of Management, Center for Corporate Change, AUS


Visiting Scholar at Monash University, Industrial and Organizational Psychology, AUS


Visiting Scholar at Erasmus University, Rotterdam School of Management, Department of Organization and Personnel Management, NL


Visiting Scholar at Aston University, Aston Business School, Work and Organizational Psychology Group & Aston Centre for Leadership Excellence, UK


Lecturer at University of Hamburg, Psychology Department, Social Psychology, GER



Doctoral Degree (Dr. phil equivalent to Ph.D.) in Psychology at the University of Hamburg, GER


Diploma in Psychology at the University of Hamburg, GER (Cooperation project with Fraunhofer Institute IPK Berlin)

2017 - Best Paper Award, Journal of Personnel Psychology

Niels Van Quaquebeke received the Best Paper Award of the Journal of Personnel Psychology (together with Daniel Gläser and Suzanne van Gils) for "Pay-for-performance and interpersonal deviance: Competitiveness as the match that lights the fire", in Journal of Personnel Psychology, 16, 77-90. Link to article

2017 - Biennial Most Innovative Scientific Article Award conferred by German Psychological Society (DGPs) IO chapter (AOW)

Niels Van Quaquebeke received the Most Innovative Scientific Article Award of the German Psychological Society (DGPs) (together with Will Felps) for "Respectful inquiry: A motivational account of leading through asking question and listening", in Academy Management Review, 43 (1), 5–27. Link to article

2012/2014 - Handelsblatt Ranking: Top100 business researcher under 40 in Germany, Switzerland, and Austria

Niels Van Quaquebeke was recognised as one of the Top100 business researchers under 40 in Germany, Switzerland and Austria in the Handelsblatt Rankings of 2012 and 2014.

2012/2014 - Best Teaching Award at Kühne Logistics University

Niels Van Quaquebeke received KLU’s Best Teaching Award that is conferred once a year based on the students’ evaluations of their lectures and seminars.

2007 - RespectResearchGroup: Outstanding Innovative Project

As part of the German Government initiative “Germany - Land of Ideas”, the RespectResearchGroup was recognised as outstanding innovative project. The RRG was founded by Niels Van Quaquebeke in 2003 who also headed the group until 2013.