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Chair of
Organisation and Human Resource Management

Prof. Dr. Kerstin Alfes, Chair Owner of the Organisation and Human Resource Management Chair, Berlin campus, ESCP EuropeAt the Chair of Organisation and Human Resource Management, we start our research and teaching with an organisation’s most important (and often overlooked) asset: its employees. We believe that it is people’s personality, knowledge, and skills that give a competitive edge to organisations. And, we believe that organisations and their leaders can develop and implement programs to bring out employees’ best potential. At our Chair we explore the extent to which individuals’ engagement and willingness to contribute influences their daily performance and well-being. We also analyse the extent to which their engagement is impacted by organisational, leadership and human resource management (HRM) decisions. Finally we are interested in understanding how differences in employees’ individual characteristics are related to the choices they make in organisations.

- Prof. Dr. Kerstin Alfes

Current research areas

  • Digitalisation
  • Engagement
  • Strategic HRM
  • Volunteering
  • Overqualification
  • Leadership
  • Digitalisation

The team

From left to right: Charlotte Traeger, Prof. Dr. Kerstin Alfes, Sabine Scholz, Stephan Schmuck, Holger Böhne and Nils Langner

Teaching
We offer the following courses:

Bachelor in
Management (BSc)

  • Corporate Social Responsibility & Business Ethics
  • Introduction to Human Resource Management and Organisational Behaviour
Go to the programme

Master in
Management

  • Organisation and Management
  • Organisational (Mis) behaviour
Go to the programme

SALES 4.0
MSc in International Sales Management

  • Leadership in International Sales
Go to the programme

MBA in
International Management

  • Leading Teams and Organisations
  • Company Consultancy Projects
Go to the programme

PhD
Programme

  • PhD Research Workshop
See more

Across
Programmes

  • Research Methods
Go to the programmes

Research

Research approach

We follow two principles in our research. First, we enhance knowledge and advance theories in the fields of Organisational Behaviour and Human Resource Management. We contribute to current academic debates by publishing our research in top-tier academic journals and by regularly presenting our findings at international conferences. We interact with the scientific community and often collaborate with international colleagues in our research projects. Second, our research has high impact, in that we answer research questions that are relevant to the practitioner community. We regularly give talks at practitioner conferences and we organise seminars that foster interaction and information exchange between academics and practitioners.

When carrying out our research, we mainly rely on quantitative research methods and develop and test theoretically derived models using different data sources, such as socio-economic data sets or self-distributed questionnaires and experiments. We enjoy working with organisations from different sectors by interviewing or surveying their employees and developing recommendations on how to improve their practices.

Research topics

Current research areas

Strategic Human Resource Management

In this area we analyse the impact of strategic human resource management (HRM) decisions on employees’ attitudes and behaviours at work. For example, we analyse how HRM practices affect the satisfaction, motivation, performance and well-being of employees, as well as the role that line managers play in the implementation of HRM practices. We pay specific attention to the extent to which individual motives and characteristics influence the effectiveness of these practices. Finally, we are interested in understanding how HRM practices influence team work and collaboration amongst employees. This is particularly important as the majority of employees today work in groups or larger teams. Current research projects include:

  • The effectiveness of HRM during change processes
  • New perspectives on careers
  • Work intensification and employee health and wellbeing
  • Team-level HRM practices and their impact on team performance and team effectiveness

Engagement

Employee engagement is a state in which employees bring their whole selves to work and are simultaneously physically, cognitively, and emotionally present at work. Engagement is seen as an indicator of well-being at work and has been demonstrated to have positive outcomes for individuals and organisations. Statistics suggest that in many organisations the majority of employees are not fully engaged at work. In our research we are interested in understanding the factors that influence the engagement of different parts of the workforce. We also analyse the positive implications of engagement such as lower turnover intentions, higher levels of performance and citizenship behaviour. Finally, we are interested in understanding how teams experience engagement. Current research projects include:

  • Intrapreneurship and engagement
  • Engagement and personality
  • Leadership and engagement

Volunteering

Individuals across the world engage in volunteer activities. For example, it is estimated that in the European Union, between 92 and 94 million adults volunteer every year, which is about 22 per cent of Europeans. The data further show that volunteering activities are a considerable part of a country’s economy; and statistical estimates provided by United Nations Volunteers suggest that in developed countries volunteer work contributes 2.7 percent to gross domestic product (GDP). Volunteering also plays an important role in strengthening the wellbeing of citizens and it fosters social cohesion and trust between members of a society. Understanding factors that encourage individuals to dedicate time to volunteering is therefore of interest to non-profit organisations, international bodies and policy makers. While previous studies have enhanced our knowledge about the factors that drive individuals to initiate volunteering, to date, few studies have focused on exploring organisational practices that non-profit organisations can implement to encourage volunteers to sustain their volunteering efforts. Our research focuses on what human resource departments can do to keep volunteers motivated and committed to their volunteering role. This is particular relevant as volunteers work over increasingly shorter periods of time and can terminate their volunteering at any time point. Current research projects include:

  • Organisational and HRM interventions which foster the engagement and retention of volunteers
  • Volunteering pattern across different age groups
  • Leadership in non-profit organisations

Overqualification

A number of conditions, including rising education levels, the global mobility of jobs, and the recent economic crisis have led to a situation where an increasing number of employees possess more skills and education than what is required for their job. Research suggests that as many as one in three workers are overqualified in countries such as France, the United Kingdom, Canada, and Germany and the number of overqualified employees is likely to increase in the future. Overqualification is therefore a pressing concern for governments, organisations, and individuals.

For individuals, overqualification negatively affects job attitudes and wages; for organisations, it reduces productivity and increases employee turnover; and for governments, it increases equilibrium unemployment and reduces GDP growth via a loss in human capital. At the same time, latest research suggests that overqualified employees perform better than their adequately qualified team members. Although research has advanced our understanding of the drivers and outcomes of overqualification, the literature remains fragmented. For example, there is inconclusive evidence on how overqualification is related to employee performance. Moreover, it is not clear whether overqualification is a persistent phenomenon, such that employees - once overqualified - remain overqualified, or whether employees are able to move out of their overqualification status. Finally, there is a lack of clarity with regards to how overqualification is measured and a lack of understanding of the impact of sampling and data collection approaches on research findings. Our research aims at closing these gaps. Current research projects include:

  • Analysis on the antecedents and outcomes of overqualification
  • Overqualification and status

Leadership

With the growing complexity and knowledge intensity in many sectors, leaders in organisations inevitably face contradictions when managing people. The ability to respond to such challenges is essential to effective leadership. In our research, we focus on the antecedents of different leadership and team behaviours and their impact on individual and team performance. We are particularly interested in the effects of seemingly contrasting, so called paradoxical leadership behaviours which aim to meet conflicting demands simultaneously and over time. Current research projects include:

  • Paradoxical Leadership
  • Leadership and meaningfulness

Digitalisation

The goal of our research is to understand the impact of digitalisation on employees’ well-being and performance. What type of digitalisation fosters individuals’ performance and in which case does it undermine it? How does digitalisation influence boundaries between private and work life? And, does digitalisation positively or negatively influence employees’ stress levels and their engagement with their work? By analysing the outcomes of digitalisation and individuals’ preferences toward digital use, our research takes a holistic approach to digitalisation of the workplace. Doing so, enables us to present solutions and best practice examples for organisations, which as a result improve employees’ well-being and organisational performance. Current research projects include:

  • Role of digitalisation in the socialisation process
  • Telecommuting and its implications for employees and organisations

Focus on:
Last Publications

Journal article / Engagement

Bailey C, Madden A, Alfes K, Fletcher L (2017): The Meaning, Antecedents and Outcomes of Employee Engagement. In: International Journal of Management Reviews. Volume 19, Issue 1, 31–53. DOI: 10.1111/ijmr.12077.

Journal article / Engagement

Saksida T, Alfes K, Shantz A (2016) Volunteer role mastery and commitment. In: The International Journal of Human Resource Management. 1–23. DOI: 10.1080/09585192.2015.1126335.

Journal article / Alienation

Conway E, Fu N, Monks K, Alfes K, Bailey C (2016) Demands or Resources?. In: Human Resource Management. Volume 55, Issue 5, 901–917. DOI: 10.1002/hrm.21691.

Publications
Find an overview

Team and contact

Sabine Scholz, Secretary, Chair of Organisation and Human Resource Management, Berlin Campus, ESCP Europe

Sabine Scholz

Assistant
sscholz@escpeurope.eu
Nils Langner, MSc, Research Assistant, Chair of Organisation and Human Resource Management, Berlin Campus, ESCP Europe

Nils Langner, MSc

Research assistant / Phd student
nlangner@escpeurope.eu
Maike Fürstenberg, Student Assistant, Chair of Organisation and Human Resource Management, Berlin Campus, ESCP Europe

Maike Fürstenberg

Student assistant
mfuerstenberg@escpeurope.eu