My book Cockfighting is officially live!




What is Cockfighting ? All too often, the relationships between chairpersons and CEOs are filled with tension, affecting organizations as a whole. Drawing on studies in business, law, and psychology, as well as interviews with more than seventy chairpersons and CEOs, Cockfighting uncovers the roots behind these complex interactions. To create a more productive atmosphere, senior leaders need to identify the source of their issues and build a new bond based on trust and respect. Cockfighting offers insights into how the conscious and unconscious drivers of conflict and their intensifiers such as role models, role clarity, family structures, and birth order can cause antagonism. It also provides invaluable tools for increasing self-awareness and facilitating collaboration to improve the working atmosphere, and ultimately the organization's performance.


Amazon #1 Hot New Release in the categories 'Corporate Governance', 'Communication in Management', 'Business Ethics'.


Click here to access the book.



Research Topics

 Textbook (estimated publishing: winter 2019/20)

Working Title:

Beyond Corporate Governance: How Understanding the Three Hidden Key Drivers Prevents Derailment in Business

Corporate Governance has fallen short of conflict reduction because of the three hidden key drivers of conflicts: change, the human element, and leadership

This book analyzes and explains these drivers and unravels the complexity of their interaction. It shows how change can be induced and better managed, how conflicts can be prevented or reduced and consequently, how performance can be improved.

It further offers a toolkit that explains the key leadership qualities of future leaders and helps early spot, assess and develop (potential) leaders. A better understanding of the leadership dynamic in context with an ever-changing environment will help assess what type of leaders are needed in the future so that the demand of a fast changing business world can be best met. Derailment (e.g. hubris, excessive narcissism) is an issue and more likely to happen in senior positions. Many leaders don't know how well they are functioning (lack of or reduced self-awareness). 


Master Thesis (completed @INSEAD in 2017)

Tension Field Chairperson-CEO: How Family Origins Impact the Relationship

Demands on leadership have increased. Power lies at the top company levels and leaders' personalities impact their companies. Although a functioning Chairperson-CEO relationship is key, tension is common.

Legal and business literature on Corporate Governance provides guidelines which organizations should follow. In contrast, psychodynamic literature addresses the 'inner theatre' and behavioral patterns of leaders. But neither of them discusses the specific Chairperson-CEO relationship. To date, the fields of law, business, and psychology seem only to have been marginally combined to address this issue.

This thesis aims to close this gap by assessing leaders' experiences and examining their upbringing. Via a thorough review of relevant literature, consideration is given to how current research treats the topic.

Details are given to an empirical investigation into the questions: what conscious and unconscious elements impact the relationship between Chairperson and CEO? How do their family backgrounds contribute to conflict between them? 

Findings suggest that leaders' family origins, specifically relating to birth order (functional firstborns!) and behavior patterns help explain the Chairperson-CEO relationship, in that they: 

1) determine worldviews, values, perceptions and interpretations of roles and definitions of power

2) influence how the parties perceive, enter and handle relationships

3) affect levels of self-awareness

4) determine the 'currency of trust'. Implications for practice and suggestions for future research are proposed.

Keywords: Chairperson, CEO, clinical paradigm, power, family of origin, birth order, roles, transference, psychological contract, trust, self-awareness.


PhD Topic (External PhD Candidate at University of Zurich, 2018 - Present)

Influence of Birth Order on Business and Leadership

  • Indication of future characteristics of leaders (e.g. which birth rank might deal best with change)
  • Coaching & self-awareness and its impact on leadership (e.g. impact of coaching on birth order rank, on self-awareness and consequently on leadership)
  • Trust and relationship (e.g. how do birth order ranks build and maintain trust?)
  • Start-ups (e.g. how does birth order influence team dynamic?)

Master Thesis (completed @University of St.Gallen, HSG in 2016)

Human Factor in Corporate Governance: How to Reduce Conflicts in Business

The scandals of the 1990s and 2000s around Enron, WorldCom, and Tyco which involved management excesses, fraud, and the "absence" of the BoD have not gone away. That was when Corporate Governance was put on the map, although the concept had previously existed. In 1932, Berle and Means described the conflicts of interest between owners and managers (principle agent theory), which led to a call for control mechanisms and a separation of strategy and ownership. This marked the beginning of Corporate Governance as a tool to balance control and management to reduce conflict between principles and agents.

The more recent scandals have led to a modification of national law (hard law) and Corporate Governance (soft law). At the same time, globalization and a growing number of transatlantic M&As have led to larger compensation packages that have distorted self-regulation, leading to adjustments in hard and soft law. Nevertheless, today companies still face serious conflicts within the magic triangle of owners, board, and management in stock corporations. Inspite or because of the increased focus on Corporate Governance, its models differ depending on county, market, company, history, and culture, as well as legal and regulatory frameworks. Although there is not much doubt regarding the importance of Corporate Governance, a fact that is reflected in the high degree of market acceptance, its performance is difficult to measure. However, the amount of conflict has not decreased. This is true for private, public, national and international, and for both successful and crisis-ridden companies. 

Stakeholders use laws and regulations as they please to form their stories. An increasingly tougher legal framework has led to more law suits against company bodies, which in turn leads to more insurance against liabilities. This has triggered a new trend: contingency insurance. Pressure increases and the media contributes to this dynamic.

Where is this leading? To new laws, rules and regulations? Is it not time to pause and ask why a stiffer framework has not led to fewer conflicts? Are there causes outside the legal framework that negatively impact the relationships among stakeholders? And if so, how are conflicts created and how can they be avoided? This paper has addressed these questions.