Recent Publications


This website shows recent publications. A complete list is here


Christina Novak Hansen and Rolf Brühl: How informational stimuli, formative experiences, and socialization can activate values to foster sustainable entrepreneurship engagement, in: Business Ethics, the Environment & Responsibility. Advanced online publication, 1-25 (to the open access article).


Research has shown that specific individual values, such as green and environmental values, are important in motivating the decision to start a sustainable business. Beyond this finding, there is limited knowledge about why, how, and when such values become important and what this means for sustainable entrepreneurship engagement. We address this question abductively and conduct a multi-case study of 18 sustainable entrepreneurs and their fashion companies. Drawing on the selfactivation and the impressionable years hypotheses, we identified three ways in which sustainability-oriented values become activated and more important to individuals: (1) through informational stimuli, (2) through formative and life-changing experiences, and (3) through socialization. Further, we show that the entrepreneurs engaged in reflexive learning due to the value-activating experience, whereby they critically questioned their assumptions and actions. Together, one or more value activations and the involved reflexive learning contributed significantly to the decision to become a sustainable entrepreneur. With this novel explanation for why and how values become engaged in the first place, we contribute to the theory of (sustainable) entrepreneurship. Further, our research helps devise value-activating strategies for practitioners who want to help (prospective) entrepreneurs act more in line with their sustainability-oriented values and start a sustainable business.


Jörn Basel und Rolf Brühl: Misstrauen. Eine interdisziplinäre Bestandsaufnahme, in:  Jörn Basel und Philipp Henrizi, Psychologie von Risiko und Vertrauen: Wahrnehmung, Verhalten und Kommunikation. Springer, Berlin, 2023, 269-299 (zum Artikel).


In diesem Beitrag werden aktuelle Erkenntnisse über die Auswirkungen von Misstrauen, insbesondere von sozialem Misstrauen, und der Zusammenhang zwischen Misstrauen und Vertrauen vorgestellt. Diese Betrachtung ist vor dem Hintergrund zu verstehen, dass eine konzeptionelle und empirische Auseinandersetzung mit dem Konstrukt Misstrauen in vielen Disziplinen erst in jüngster Zeit an Bedeutung gewonnen hat. Während Vertrauen als etabliertes Themenfeld gilt, sind zahlreiche grundsätzliche Fragen, wie z. B. nach den Ursachen, Voraussetzungen, Dimensionen und Operationalisierungen von Misstrauen, noch Gegenstand aktueller Diskussionen. Auf der Grundlage der aktuellen Literatur wird für eine eigenständige Sichtweise auf Misstrauen plädiert. Dies bedeutet aber auch, dass die Bemühungen in Bereichen wie der Messung und der Identifikation von möglichen positiven Wechselwirkungen noch deutlich auszubauen sind.


Moritz Schneider and Rolf Brühl: Disentangling the black box around CEO and financial information-based accounting fraud detection: machine learning-based evidence from publicly listed U.S. firms, in: Wolfgang Breuer and Andreas Knetsch (Eds.): Recent trends in the digitalization of finance and accounting. Journal of Business Economics, Special Issue, Volume 93, Issue 9, 2023, 1591-1628 (to the article).


This study investigates the predictive power of CEO characteristics on accounting fraud utilizing a machine learning approach. Grounded in upper echelons theory, we show the predictive value of widely neglected CEO characteristics for machine learning-based accounting fraud detection in isolation and as part of a novel combination with raw financial data items. We employ five machine learning models well-established in the accounting fraud literature. Diverging from prior studies, we introduce novel model-agnostic techniques to the accounting fraud literature, opening further the black box around the predictive power of individual accounting fraud predictors. Specifically, we assess CEO predictors concerning their feature importance, functional association, marginal predictive power, and feature interactions. We find the isolated CEO and combined CEO and financial data models to outperform a no-skill benchmark and isolated approaches by large margins. Nonlinear models such as Random Forest and Extreme Gradient Boosting predominantly outperform linear ones, suggesting a more complex relationship between CEO characteristics, financial data, and accounting fraud. Further, we find CEO Network Size and CEO Age to contribute second and third strongest towards the best model’s predictive power, closely followed by CEO Duality. Our results indicate U-shaped, L-shaped, and weak L-shaped associations for CEO Age, CEO Network Size, CEO Tenure, and accounting fraud, consistent with our superior nonlinear models. Lastly, our empirical evidence suggests that older CEOs who are not simultaneously serving as chairman and CEOs with an extensive network and high inventory are more likely to be associated with accounting fraud.


Teemu Malmi, David S. Bedford, Rolf Brühl, Johan Dergård, Sophie Hoozée, Otto Janschek, Jeanette Willert: The use of management controls in different cultural regions: an empirical study of Anglo-Saxon, Germanic and Nordic practices, in: Journal of Management Control, Volume 33, Issue 3, 2022, 273-334. (to article)


Most cross-cultural studies on management control have compared Anglo-Saxon firms to Asian firms, leaving us with limited understanding of potential variations between developed Western societies. This study addresses differences and similarities in a wide variety of management control practices in Anglo-Saxon (Australia, English Canada), Germanic (Austria, non-Walloon Belgium, Germany) and Nordic firms (Denmark, Finland, Norway, Sweden). Unique data is collected through structured interviews from 584 strategic business units (SBUs). We find that management control structures in Anglo-Saxon SBUs, relative to those from Germanic and Nordic regions, are more decentralized and participative and place greater emphasis on performance-based pay. Comparing Germanic SBUs to Nordic ones, we find Germanic SBUs to rely more on individual behaviour in performance evaluation, whereas Nordic SBUs rely more on quantitative measures and value alignment in employee selection. We also observe numerous similarities in MC practices between the three cultural regions. The implications of these findings for theory development are outlined.


Rolf Brühl: On the responsibility of corporate actors for human rights in the supply chain, in: Wenzel Matiaske, Dorothea Alewell and Ortrud Leßmann (Eds.): The 'Betrieb' as corporate actor. Management Review, Special Issue, Volume 33, 2022, 60-83 (to the article). 


States are fundamentally obliged to respect and protect human rights vis-à-vis their citizens. Sometimes states are unwilling or lack the possibilities to fulfill these obligations, and thus scholars from different fields propose companies to fill this gap. In particular, multinational corporations are called upon to respect and protect human rights worldwide. This chapter demonstrates how the state, civil society, and business negotiate corporate responsibility for human rights in a parliamentary legislative process on a supply chain law. For this purpose, the article takes up important arguments of philosophical ethics, business ethics, legal studies, and political science, which have emerged as particularly prominent in the ongoing debate. The article demonstrates that in the parliamentary debate, questions of the scope of responsibility, the companies to be included, and which rights and goods are to be considered are of great relevance.


Philipp Richter, Benedikt Kapteina und Rolf Brühl: Do firms' political capabilities increase their R&D investments? Evidence for direct and contingency effects in the European Union, in: European Journal of Management, Volume 22, Issue 1, 2022, 108-127 (Download from SSRN).


Corporates’ political activities have been identifies as important for affecting firm-level innovation outcomes. The present study examines the ways these corporate political activities may influence innovation inputs. We draw on the capability literature to theorize a positive relationship between political capabilities (i.e., firms’ organizational and strategic capacities to conduct political activities effectively) and firm-level R&D intensity. Moreover, we theorize on the contingencies of this relationship. Our hypotheses are tested by using a hand-collected data set in the context of the supranational European Union. The results of the regression technique confirm that political capabilities are positively related to R&D intensity. Market dynamism positively moderates the relationship between political capabilities and R&D intensity, whereas industry concentration negatively moderates the relationship. At a higher level of abstraction, our study makes important contributions to our understanding of how and under what conditions political activities relate to corporate innovation.


Philipp Richter und Rolf Brühl: Shared service implementation in multidivisional or-ganizations: a meta-synthesis study, in: Journal of General Management, Volume 46, Issue 2, 2021, 73-90 (to the article). 


The purpose of this article is to explore shared service center (SSC) implementation. Shared service is a key concept by which corporations organize their resources. Research indicates that some organizations struggle with implementing SSC and sometimes entirely fail to implement them. Although prior research exploring the determinants of implementation success is relatively scarce, researchers have conducted several SSC implementation case studies. However, these valuable findings remain isolated in stand-alone case studies. We aggregated the results of these studies using a qualitative meta-synthesis to identify, extract, and synthesize variables, their interrelations, and their relationships to SSC success. The outcome is a theoretical model that describes which factors are important and how and why they are related to SSC success. Overall, we make important contributions to the growing SSC research by shedding theoretical light on SSC implementation. We also provide a set of propositions and make suggestions for future research.


Teemu Malmi, David S. Bedford, Rolf Brühl, Johan Dergård, Sophie Hoozée, Otto Janschek, Jeanette Willert, Christian Ax, Piotr Bednarek, Maurice Gosselin, Michael Hanzlick, Poul Israelsen, Daniel Johanson, Tobias Johansson, Dag Ø. Madsen, Carsten Rohde, Mikko Sandelin, Torkel Strömsten and Thomas Toldbod: Culture and management control interdependence: an analysis of complementary control choices to delegation in different cultural regions, in: Accounting, Organizations and Society, Volume 86, 2020, Article 101116 (to the article).


This study examines the influence of cultural regions on the interdependence between delegation of authority and other management control (MC) practices. In particular, we assess whether one of the central contentions of agency theory, that incentive contracting and delegation are jointly determined, holds in different cultural regions. Drawing on prior literature, we hypothesize that the MC practices that operate as a complement to delegation vary depending on societal values and preferences, and that MC practices other than incentive contracting will complement delegation in firms in non-Anglo cultural regions. Using data collected from 584 strategic business units across three Western cultural regions (Anglo, Germanic, Nordic), our results show that the interdependence between delegation and incentive contracting is confined to Anglo firms. In the Nordic and Germanic regions, we find that strategic and action planning participation operate as a complement to delegation, while delegation is also complemented by manager selection in Nordic firms. Overall, our study demonstrates that cultural values and preferences significantly influence MC interdependence, and suggests that caution needs to be taken in making cross-cultural generalizations about the complementarity of MC practices.


Richter, Philipp, Brühl, Rolf: Ahead of the game: Antecedents for the success of shared service centers, in: European Management Journal, Volume 38, Issue 3, 2020, 477-488  (to the article).


 Shared service centers (SSCs) are firms’ new paradigm for enhancing efficiency and effectiveness in business support activities. Studies show that firms with SSCs can reduce costs up to 30% compared to firms using conventional organizational concepts. Because previous research provides only a few descriptive case studies that comprehensively report how firms implement SSCs, our knowledge regarding antecedents for implementation success (IS) is scarce. This paper addresses this gap, identifies antecedents, and theorizes how they affect the IS of SSCs by drawing on dynamic capability view and organizational design literature. We test a set of hypotheses with survey data from 164 SSC managers in index-listed European firms. Our results show that dynamic capabilities—reshaping capability and IT capability—and the organizational structure of support activities are important antecedents of successful SSC implementation. Overall, we contribute to the shared service literature by shedding theoretical and empirical light on a hitherto largely neglected theme: the antecedents for the successful implementation of SSCs.


Jahn, Johannes, Eichhorn, Melanie, Brühl, Rolf: How do individuals judge organizational legitimacy? Effects of attributed motives and credibility on organizational legitimacy, in: Business & Society, 59(3), 2020, S. 545-576 (to the article).


See here an accompanying blog post with the title "Are corporate saints more credible?".


This experimental study examines individuals’ legitimacy judgments. We develop a model that demonstrates the role of attributed motives and corporate credibility for the evaluation of organizational legitimacy and test this model with an experimental vignette study. Our results show that when a corporate activity creates benefits for the firm—in addition to social benefits—individuals attribute more extrinsic motives. Extrinsic motives are ascribed when a corporation is perceived as being driven by external rewards as opposed to an altruistic commitment to a social cause. Extrinsic motives negatively affect corporate credibility and organizational legitimacy judgments. This article contributes to a better understanding of the complex process of organizational legitimacy judgment by shedding light on the individual’s perspective and expounding the relationship between attributed motives, corporate credibility, and organizational legitimacy.


Brühl, Rolf, Kury, Max: Rhetorical tactics to influence responsibility judgments: account giving in banks presidents’ letters during the financial market crisis, in: International Journal of Business Communication, 56(3), 2019, pp. 299-325 (to the article).


This content analysis investigates bank presidents’ letters in the aftermath of the financial market crisis (2007/2008). We posit that managers use accounts as a rhetorical device in order to influence responsibility judgments of stakeholders. Therefore, we draw on attribution theory, self-presentational theories and research on account giving to develop our hypotheses. From our model of responsibility judgment, we infer how banks will react to their financial performance after the financial market crisis (2007/2008). We test this with a sample built from 91 U.S. and European banks, which were all severely hit by this crisis. Our results indicate that bank managers use accounts as linguistic devices to influence the responsibility judgments of stakeholders: Refusals and to relativize are used to influence their situational perception, concessions and excuses target on locus and controllability perceptions, and initiatives and outlooks affect stability perceptions.


Johannes Jahn and Rolf Brühl: Can bad news be good? On the positive and negative effcts of including moderately negative information in CSR disclosures, in: Journal of Business Research, Volume 97, 2019, pp. 117-128 (to the article). 


Most companies are eager to present themselves as “green,” “sustainable” or “socially responsible” by making overly positive and optimistic corporate social responsibility (CSR) disclosures. Failures, setbacks and mistakes, however, are usually withheld. This study critically examines the advantageous and disadvantageous effects of voluntarily disclosing moderately negative information. We argue that two countervailing effects exist that affect corporate trustworthiness. First, attribution theory predicts that voluntarily reporting negative information is

likely to be attributed to the honesty of the company. However, second, readers may perceive the voluntary disclosure of negative information as implausible, which adversely affect trustworthiness. The study additionally investigates the effects of moderately negative information and trustworthiness on CSR perception. An experiment was conducted to test these relationships, and the results provide support for the positive and negative effects on trustworthiness. Moreover, no negative effect on CSR perception was detected.


Brühl, Rolf, Basel, Jörn S. und Kury, Max: Communication after an integrity-based trust violation: How organizational account giving affects trust, in: European Management Journal, 36(2), 2018, pp. 161 - 170 (to the article). 


How can an organization repair trust through communication after an ethical failure? This study examines how trust is repaired after an integrity-based trust violation using three different accounts: apology, excuse, and refusal. In our approach, we rely on two strands of attribution theory, which suggests that different attributions for responsibility and credibility affect trust. An experiment with n = 368 was conducted to explore trust repair effectiveness of apology versus refusal and apology versus excuse after an integrity-based trust violation. Results revealed apology as a double-edged sword; it repairs trust more successfully than refusal and excuse because it is evaluated as more credible. However, it is less successful than refusal and excuse because it is evaluated as more responsible.


Jahn, Johannes, Brühl, Rolf: How Friedman's view on individual freedom relates to stakeholder theory and social contract theory, in: Journal of Business Ethics, Volume 153, Issue 1, 2018, 41-52
(to the article)


Friedman’s view on CSR is often accused of being incoherent and setting rather low ethical standards for managers. This paper outlines Friedman ethical expectations toward managers against the backdrop of the strong emphasis he puts on individual freedom. Doing so reveals that he sets higher ethical standards than often assumed and illustrates the necessity to reconsider how his approach relates to other influential normative theories of business ethics. Contrasting Friedman’s approach with stakeholder and integrative social contract theory—when considering the importance he assigns to individual freedom—allows for a detailed examination of how and why these approaches differ but likewise highlights striking similarities. Friedman’s approach to CSR is still one of the most influential in business ethics research. This paper contributes to a better understanding thereof, because it enables a differentiated look on the strengths and weaknesses of his approach. Furthermore, the shown commonalities among Friedman’s approach and stakeholder and social contract theory contribute to the discussion on the normative foundations of business ethics.