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ESADE professor Tobias Hahn wins first prize of top management-research award

His research paper explores the case of the CEO of Puma and his actions on sustainability beyond business-as-usual


Tobias Hahn, ESADE Professor in the Department of Social Sciences, has won the first prize of the Prix Académique de la Recherche en Management, a top French management-research award given by the French Foundation for Management Education (FNEGE).

His academic article The Co-evolution of Leaders’ Cognitive Complexity and Corporate Sustainability: The Case of the CEO of Puma, published in the Journal of Business Ethics, was awarded first prize in the category “Refonder la relation Entreprise et Société vers de nouveaux modèles de croissance.”

The paper analyzes the evolution of the CEO of Puma, the youngest CEO in Germany history to head a public company at the age of 30. “Our purpose was to explore his decisions at the helm of Puma and how the changes in a leader’s mindset influence his views and actions on sustainability,” says Prof. Hahn.

The findings show that over the period of his tenure as the CEO of Puma, Jochen Zeitz developed a more complex mindset that also included non-business lenses. This more complex mindset enabled Zeitz to adopt a more inclusive understanding of sustainability and to support proactive initiatives that went beyond business-as-usual.

“The challenges our world is facing are so big that the current business-case approach to sustainability is no longer enough. A really responsible leader takes on responsibilities that go beyond the business case, she does the right thing for the sake of doing so because she knows it’s her responsibility towards the world,” says Prof. Hahn.

The academic publication was a collaboration with researchers Stefan Gröschl at ESSEC Business School and Patricia Gabaldón at IE Business School.