“Leadership in the Digital Age” research-a-thon at new TUM Campus Heilbronn

A group of 18 academics from across Europe examined the topic of leadership in the digital world in the first “leadership research-a-thon” held at the Heilbronn campus of the Technical University of Munich (TUM) last weekend. With the help of agile methods and using a clear structure, the participants were able to shape their innovative research ideas into a detailed research project in under 24 hours.

A team led by Claudia Peus, Professor of Research and Science Management at TUM, developed the idea for the research-a-thon on the questions of what leadership means in times of digitization, how leadership roles are changing as a result, and how to build trust between members of virtual teams. “Inspired by hackathons, at which cross-functional teams develop software or hardware, we created a new format for developing research projects in just 24 hours. Normally, this takes a lot more time. We are particularly proud of the fact that we managed to secure a number of internationally renowned mentors for the research-a-thon: Professor Deanne den Hartog from the University of Amsterdam, Professor Ronit Kark from Bar-Ilan University in Israel and Professor Ilke Inceoglu from the University of Exeter Business School”, said Professor Peus, who also acted as a mentor during the event.

The research-a-thon began at midday on the first day with a panel discussion about the challenges for executives in a digital age. The participants then split up into groups to develop ideas, the mentors providing feedback on refining the research ideas. Later that night, the teams presented their initial research concepts at a series of “midnight pitches”. The first day ended at 3 a.m. Just five hours later, the second day of the research-a-thon began.

“Switch” team chosen as winners

The final round of pitches took place on the afternoon of the second day. The winners were the “Switch” team, consisting of Ulf Steinberg, Paul Westhoff, Dr. Ing. Petra Kipfelsberger and Professor Brooke Gazdag. Working on the idea that tomorrow’s managers will increasingly have to “switch” back and forth between their roles as executives and team members, the team developed a research project aimed at designing a new leadership model. The winning team are already meeting again this week to define the next steps so that the project can be presented soon at an academic conference.

The participants in the research-a-thon considered its innovative format highly successful, being an effective way to generate energy and encourage exchange between experts working in different disciplines. The research-a-thon was the third research event at an international level held at TUM Campus Heilbronn since it commenced operations a month and a half ago. The events “The Future of Retail Operations” and “Workshop on Technology Acquisitions” took place at the end of October.

Image: TUM

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