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Teaching Research Projects

Teaching Research Projects (Lehrforschungsprojekte, LFPs)

A key component in the curriculum of our Master's students in Business, Organisational and Applied Social Psychology are teaching research projects. In this seminar, the students learn to work on a concrete research project under the guidance of the lecturers in small groups and over two semesters, in order to learn independent scientific practice. Thereby students get to know the empirical research process starting with the initial research question and ending with the preparation of a manuscript ready for publication.
The studies carried out in teaching research projects are often presented at scientific conferences and often lead to publications in scientific journals. Below you will find an exemplary selection of student teaching research projects that have been carried out at the Chair of Economic and Organisational Psychology in the last few years.


lfpLecturers: Prof. Felix Brodbeck & Dr. Eleni Georganta

Keywords: Multicultural Teams, Cultural Intelligence, Team Processes

Short description:
While teamwork has been an existing reality of the world of work for several decades, the relevance of cultural diversity in the organisational context has increased significantly in recent years. While dealing with different cultures carries a high potential for successful cooperation, it can also be a challenge for teams. For this reason, recent group research has focused on the search for factors that promote cooperation among multicultural teams. These include the construct of cultural intelligence (CQ), which describes the ability to adapt to new cultural concepts. While previous studies recorded cultural intelligence as an individual ability or as an average level of individual expression within a team, there is no instrument to measure CQ at team level. The teaching research project pursued two goals: on the one hand, to develop and validate a questionnaire to measure the CQ construct at team level (TCQ) and, on the other hand, to investigate the relationships between TCQ, team processes and team performance. For this purpose, an online study was conducted with a total of 32 multicultural teams from different organisations and sectors. The results indicate that the newly constructed questionnaire for measuring TCQ has good reliability and validity. At the same time, the positive influence of TCQ on team processes could be confirmed: more culturally intelligent teams showed stronger cohesion and more mutual trust among team members.

LFP Stress 4.0

stress 4.0

Prof. Erika Spieß, Dr. Julia Reif & Katharina Pfaffinger (M.Sc.)

Keywords: Stress 4.0, New stressors through digitalisation, Change in work

Short description:
Digitalisation and its effects entail far-reaching changes in the world of work. This also results in new challenges for employees that can trigger stress. Current studies confirm the high level of stress among employees. In the LFP, on the one hand, the most diverse sources of stress were examined quantitatively (N=979) on the basis of a questionnaire developed within the framework of the Impress project (, as well as their factor structure. Classic stress factors such as multitasking or frequent interruptions are still perceived as particularly stressful. One factor emerged with different stressors from the area of digitalisation (complicated new technologies, concerns about data protection and digital surveillance, etc.).
Secondly, 12 qualitative interviews were conducted with HR managers from companies as well as with therapists, asking about existing and necessary interventions that could help employees deal with stressors in a digitalised working world. Interventions on different levels were mentioned, ranging from mindfulness exercises in the context of coaching/therapy to education about stress consequences on the societal level.

LFP Social conflicts in the context of human-technology interaction


Prof Dr. Sarah Diefenbach & Stefan Tretter

Keywords: Conflict, social norms, smartphone use

Short description:
Today, a large part of everyday communication is mediated by technology (computer-mediated communication, CMC): from communication via email and chat in the work environment to quick messages to friends and family via WhatsApp. Sometimes, however, misunderstandings and disagreements arise. For example, we wait longer for an answer than we would like, or the answer from the communication partner seems too short or uncharitable and leads to negative feelings towards the communication partner. Possible reasons for this are the lack of contextual and non-verbal information that would allow us to interpret the communication partner's answer appropriately in the context of the situation (e.g. person is in a meeting, has no time for a detailed answer) and the intended emotional expression. The so-called fundamental attribution error, or the tendency to see the person rather than the situation as the cause of a behaviour, may also play a role. The LFP investigated the role of contextual information for attribution processes and devoted a quantitative study to the perception of negatively interpretable response behaviour, as well as the question of which modifications to the communication channel can prevent attribution to the personality of the counterpart. It was shown that short e-mail responses with typing errors, which are typical for an e-mail written under time pressure, also lead to a negative evaluation of the author overall. The negative evaluation was mediated by the attribution of the reply email to the person (vs. the situation).

LFP The role of the communication medium in socio-emotional messages

rolle kommunikationsmediumLecturers: Prof Dr. Sarah Diefenbach & Stefan Tretter

Keywords: Communication media, socio-emotional messages, feedback

Short description:
The steadily increasing use of communication technologies in everyday (working) life means that messages with socio-emotional content are also increasingly being delivered in this way. It cannot be ruled out that the specific characteristics of the respective communication channel influence the reception of the content by the recipient. While factors influencing the sender's choice of communication channel in socio-emotionally charged situations have already been studied more intensively, less attention has been paid to the receiver's perception in this context. Are there differences in the influence of a socio-emotional message on the receiver depending on the chosen communication medium? What role do the valence of the content and the relationship between sender and receiver play? In the LFP, the students investigated the question of whether the characteristics of the communication channel in interaction with the type of feedback and the relationship between the participants have an influence on the recipient's reactions. The results of an experimental vignette study suggest that chosen communication channel as well as the relationship to the sender are secondary, and the consequences of received feedback depend primarily on whether the feedback has positive or negative meaning for the receiver.

LFP Ambidextrous Leadership – A Qualitative Study Exploring the Phenomenon of Temporal Flexibility


Lecturers: Prof. Dr. Felix C. Brodbeck, Dr. Katharina G. Kugler, Josef H. Gammel

Keywords: Temporal Flexibility, Ambidextrous Leadership, Innovation

Short description:
The innovation process is characterised by changing requirements: On the one hand, employees must generate new, creative ideas, and on the other hand, they must also implement these ideas effectively and efficiently. According to the theory of ambidextrous leadership, managers promote the development of new ideas through opening behaviour and the implementation of these ideas through closing behaviour. In addition, they must have Temporal Flexibility - the ability to switch between both behavioural components flexibly in time and according to situational requirements. While opening and closing behaviours have already been empirically studied, it is still unclear which behaviours characterise the leader's temporal flexibility. To explore Temporal Flexibility behaviours, 13 semi-structured interviews were conducted with employees and leaders from the innovation context. A content analysis resulted in 12 categories describing different temporal flexibility behaviours of the leader. These were deductively combined into three meta-categories: Temporal Flexibility behaviours were distinguished that influence the transition, action or socio-emotional processes of teams. By concretising Temporal Flexibility behaviours, this research contributes to a better understanding of leadership in the innovation process as well as to a more holistic view of Ambidextrous Leadership. In addition, the basis for the development of a measurement instrument to capture temporal flexibility behaviour was created.

LFP Emotional sustainability

SustainabilityLecturer: Prof Dr. Sarah Diefenbach

Keywords: Sustainability, product experience, customization

Short description:
Consumption statistics have been reporting ever shorter substitution cycles in various product areas in the past few years. The reasons why products are discarded and replaced with new ones are not always pragmatic. Often the reason is based on a feeling - the feeling that the product is no longer my style - the "psychological benefit" of the product is exhausted. When designing products, how can this emotional sustainability of products be addressed and increased? In the Teaching Research Project , this concept of emotional sustainability was investigated through empirical field surveys as well as experimental laboratory studies. Customization, i.e. involving the consumer in the design process, proved to be a promising approach for increasing emotional product loyalty.

Publication: Diefenbach, S., Jung, S., Diller, T., Franze, C. & Maciejczyk, S. (2018). The secret of self-made: The potential of different types of consumer participation in the product production process. Social Sciences, 7(4), 52. doi:10.3390/socsci7040052 

LFP Regulating Relationships in Executive-Employee Interaction: The Fit between Expected and Perceived Relational Models as the Key to Success


Lecturers: Prof. Dr. Felix Brodbeck & Dr. Katharina Kugler

Keywords: leadership, relationship regulation, person-supervisor-fit

Short description:
The theory of relational models (Fiske, 1992) postulates that people use four basic relational models (RMs) to regulate relationships; this is also true of employee-executive interaction. The Teaching Research Project investigated whether a fit between the expectations of employees (i.e. ideal) and the reality perceived by employees (i.e. real) is positively related to the perceived relationship quality and job satisfaction with regard to RMs.

LFP Connection between the complexity of corporate mission statements - as an indicator of organisational culture - and conflict management as well as organisational justice in everyday working life


Dozenten: Prof. Felix Brodbeck, Dr. Katharina Kugler

The study of this LFP was continued beyond the LFP and published in the journal "Negotiation and Conflict Management Research".

Title of the publication: Corporate Communication and Worker Perceptions of Conflict Management and Justice

Publication summary:
Organizations are well advised to develop a conflict culture promoting constructive conflict management and cooperation. But what does such a culture look like? Research from international and political relations has demonstrated that the level of integrative complexity (IC) as disseminated in political messages is an important factor in the context of conflict management. In our research, we hypothesize that, similar to political messages, corporate communication, which emphasizes a complex (i.e., differentiated and integrated) way of understanding multidimensional issues, is connected to cooperative conflict management and related variables like perceptions of organizational justice. Results of a multilevel field study support this proposition. Whereas the level of organizational
IC was assessed by rating organizations’ communication (specifically their vision or mission statements published on the Internet), perceptions of conflict management and justice were assessed by asking employees. The study emphasizes the utility of addressing organizational level variables in relation to organizational members’ perceptions.