KLU welcomes Brooke Gazdag as Associate Professor of Management

KLU’s new Associate Professor of Management Brooke A. Gazdag arrives with a wealth of expertise on leadership, negotiations, and diversity and inclusion. Formerly Assistant Professor at the Amsterdam Business School of the University of Amsterdam, Gazdag is an advocate for better ways of working, seeking to integrate various insights and perspectives in her teaching to create dynamic learning experiences. She has also taken up the role of Academic Director of Executive Education at KLU.

Originally from Western New York, where she completed her PhD in Organizational Behavior and Management at the State University of New York at Buffalo, Gazdag says she was drawn to academia because of the “autonomy and independence” it offered compared to the corporate sphere.

“I think there there's a lot of your own job crafting in the academic world,” she explains. “You have a lot of control over your career and, if you’re open to it, can try out different things along the way.”

She says this is particularly true of Europe, where she’s lived for more than a decade.

“In the States academic institutions focus more on research output, but in Europe there's curiosity about what real problems are and what the academic approach could do to address them,” Gazdag elaborates. “I discovered this when I moved to Germany in 2012. I started giving workshops and connecting with industry one-and-a-half years after coming here, which I don't think I would have done had I been in the US.”

Having taken up a postdoc position at the Technical University of Munich as part of a project on the “Selection and Evaluation of Leaders in Academia and Industry”, she then worked at the Ludwig-Maximilians-University in the Munich School of Business. In 2020, Gazdag moved to Amsterdam for her assistant professorship, before joining KLU in April this year.

“I'd worked in some large public institutions in Munich and the one thing I was missing was more of a flexible department structure, a flatter hierarchy,” she says. “I heard good things about the KLU through the grapevine. It seemed to be one of the few universities in Germany that had this flatter structure and also a startup feel to it; both of which were very attractive to me.”

Focus on diversity and inclusion

Gazdag's research and teaching interests center around topics that reflect challenges and opportunities in the world of work, including leadership, negotiations, and diversity and inclusion. In her research, she looks how these three themes work together to explore areas such as the link between networking and leadership, how to build negotiation resilience, women's representation in leadership positions, and how inclusion can help to build resilience into relationships between diverse communities.

Recently, she worked together with KLU’s Professor of Logistics Maria Besiou and Professor of Professor of Leadership and Organizational Behavior Niels Van Quaquebeke to write a critical essay on how DEI (diversity, equity and inclusion) concepts could be applied in humanitarian operations contexts.

“Most of my research is looking at the organizational context, at knowledge workers and task workers, for example,” she says. “These organizational behavior theories are really put to the test in a project like the one I did with Maria and Nils. You get to ask how these theories look under the pressure of responding to a disaster or coming together quickly as a team? And how can these teams work together when they have so many deep differences?”

A World of opportunities

As well as the autonomy, independence, and experimentation that it offers her, Gazdag says she is passionate about academia for the opportunity it gives her to “leave people better than I found them.”

“As part of my work I try to facilitate discussions that are self-relevant and people have moments of reflection where they say, ‘Maybe I can think about myself a bit differently in this situation,’ or, ‘Maybe, I can look at what leadership means for me personally,’ instead of challenging stereotypes we might have about it,” KLU’s new Academic Director or Executive Education says. “My goal is really to help people carve their own identities at work.”

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