Prof. Dr.
Niels Van Quaquebeke

Professor of Leadership and Organizational Behavior

Head of Department of Leadership and Management

Prof. Dr.
Niels Van Quaquebeke

Professor of Leadership and Organizational Behavior

Head of Department of Leadership and Management

Prof. Dr. Niels Van Quaquebeke is Professor of Leadership and Organizational Behavior and Head of Department of Leadership and Management at the KLU. He is additionally affiliated (part-time) with the University of Exeter as a Distinguished Research Professor. He is recognised as one of the Top100 German speaking business scholars (in WirtschaftsWoche and in the under 40 category 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, where he is academic director of the open 360° leadership assessment platform, and the Erasmus Centre for Leadership Studies.

Van Quaquebeke used to be Senior Associate Editor for The Leadership Quarterly (LQ)  where he still continues to serve as a member of the editorial board same as for 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 popular video-blended courses on:

Additionally, Van Quaquebeke frequently captivates audiences as a keynote speaker, for instance, for TEDx, House of Beautiful Business, GDI, TUI, AOK, Royal Airforce and many more. His provocative talks focus on the human experience at work. As such, his topics include:

  • Your Bot Boss: How artificial. Intelligence (AI) will change leadership
  • The Now, NEW, and NEXT of digital leadership 
  • What happens when we are not the smartest people in the room anymore
  • Respect: Find out what it means…. at work.

Students who wish to write a thesis with Prof. Dr. Van Quaquebeke are requested to enroll and watch his “Introduction to Thesis Supervision” videos before reaching out. Amongst others, they also explain the format of the proposal to be handed in before registering the thesis.

Up Close & Personal

“What sets the KLU apart for me is the clarity of our mission: Leadership and logistics”
– Prof. Dr. Niels Van Quaquebeke

Selected Publications

Abstract: Many field office leaders contend that authoritarian leadership improves the performance of humanitarian operations. The common narrative is that authoritarian leadership helps aid workers more quickly adapt to changes and thus deliver better job performance (e.g., by improving operations in their field office). However, given that field reports often highlight extant leadership as the source of serious operational failures, could leaders with an authoritarian style be part of the problem? We draw on psychological theorizing on the nature of human motivation to address this question. Specifically, we note that many aid workers primarily join humanitarian operations with the prosocial motive to help beneficiaries. While proactive adaptability is inherent to prosocial motivation, we hypothesize that authoritarian leadership may curtail the relationship by impeding aid workers’ autonomy. We find support for our theorizing in a sample of 299 humanitarian aid workers from the field. Additionally, we conducted 31 expert interviews to contextualize and validate our empirical findings. The paper concludes by discussing the findings’ theoretical and managerial implications for humanitarian operations.

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Abstract: Conducting organizational research via online surveys and experiments offers a host of advantages over traditional forms of data collection when it comes to sampling for more advanced study designs, while also ensuring data quality. To draw attention to these advantages and encourage researchers to fully leverage them, the present paper is structured into two parts. First, along a structure of commonly used research designs, we showcase select organizational psychology (OP) and organizational behavior (OB) research and explain how the Internet makes it feasible to conduct research not only with larger and more representative samples, but also with more complex research designs than circumstances usually allow in offline settings. Subsequently, because online data collections often also come with some data quality concerns, in the second section, we synthesize the methodological literature to outline three improvement areas and several accompanying strategies for bolstering data quality. Plain Language Summary: These days, many theories from the fields of organizational psychology and organizational behavior are tested online simply because it is easier. The point of this paper is to illustrate the unique advantages of the Internet beyond mere convenience—specifically, how the related technologies offer more than simply the ability to mirror offline studies. Accordingly, our paper first guides readers through examples of more ambitious online survey and experimental research designs within the organizational domain. Second, we address the potential data quality drawbacks of these approaches by outlining three concrete areas of improvement. Each comes with specific recommendations that can ensure higher data quality when conducting organizational survey or experimental research online.

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Abstract: Studies on abusive supervision typically posit that targets of abuse will either directly blame the perpetrating supervisor or indirectly blame the organization for allowing the abuse, and as a result reduce their cooperativeness at work. We pivot from this predominant logic and argue that, under certain circumstances, targets of abusive supervision may blame themselves, feel guilty, and then try to make it up to their abusive supervisors by helping them more. Drawing on the emotional process theory of abusive supervision and the more general socio-functional perspective of emotions, we specify that such a dynamic is more likely to ensue when subordinates otherwise experience the relationship with their supervisors as good (high LMX). Two studies—an experiment and a two-weeks bi-daily experience sampling study—provide support for our reasoning. As such, our study extends theorizing on the consequences of abusive supervision, which has typically found that it reduces cooperative behaviors. Moreover, it contributes to previous speculations that leaders may engage in abusive supervision because it has beneficial consequences for them.

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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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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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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.

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.

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.