Dr. Hannes Guenter

Dr. Hannes Guenter is an Associate Professor of Organisational Behavior in the Department of Organisation, Strategy, and Entrepreneurship at Maastricht University, School of Business and Economics. He received his PhD in Work Psychology from ETH Zurich (Switzerland). His research interests are centred on proactivity at work, team effectiveness, and leadership. His research has appeared in Journal of Management, Leadership Quarterly, and Strategic Management Journal, among others. He has participated in about 40 presentations at international conferences and serves on the editorial boards of several scientific journals (e.g., Group & Organization Management). In recognition of his performance, Dr. Guenter has received numerous research awards and was nominated twice for the graduate teaching award at Maastricht University. He coordinates the master program Organisation: Management, Change and Consultancy—a one-year degree attracting about 60-70 students per year. He has designed and taught courses at all levels, including executive courses on topics such as organisational change, proactivity, and teamwork.


Hannes made the decision to leave the mountains of Switzerland and the snowboarding life for the ‘lowlands’ of the Netherlands 11 years ago, the pull of Maastricht and the University’s excellence in research and teaching proved a powerful draw. For Hannes, part of the reason it is so exciting to be in Maastricht is to do with the Dutch culture as well as the orientation towards research and teaching, which is unique in Europe.


“You have research culture here, which is oriented towards the US, but it’s still European”.


An additional bonus at Maastricht University is that the teaching form makes it possible to engage in challenging debates with students and still combine that with large-scale lectures.


As associate professor of organisational behaviour, Hannes has teaching responsibilities across all levels including executive education related to people management. In terms of his research, the focus is on proactivity at work, specifically on voice behaviour and employee silence. “Why is it that employees often remain silent rather than speaking up with ideas, suggestions, and concerns, to their boss?” What can leaders do to encourage proactivity?


“I’m driven to find answers to these questions as this would make workplaces safer, more innovative, and more productive”.


Like most academic scholars, Hannes chose this field because he is excited about the content of the subjects he researches and teaches. The privilege, as he sees it, is that he can work on self-chosen subjects and has the opportunity to develop this knowledge, which eventually informs management practice.  


Working on the MBA programme has meant that he gets to teach on a number of different courses, including leadership, teamwork, proactivity at work, and change management. He has also more recently designed and implemented a couple of custom-made workshops for a German machine-building company as an executive programme with UMIO.


“You don’t get that kind of access to a top management team of a sizeable organisation often and there has been great collaboration since”.


The collaboration also proved to be a good jumping-off point for additional ways of enhancing both teaching and research.


More recently, Hannes developed a session specifically for the MBA Entrepreneurship and New Business Development module. In thinking about connections at work and building connections, he realised it is at the very core of leadership. There are three parts to connecting people; awareness, connections with others, and connections with the organisation.


”You can build meaningful connections with others in a much more productive way if you have a good sense of self. That kind of self-awareness in your own values will allow you to be more authentic in your connections with others“.


Hannes is married to the director of a contemporary art gallery, thus, one is not too surprised to hear him talk about art. Drawing on inspiration from the conceptual artist John Baldessari, Hannes refers to a phrase that Baldessari coined, ”I will not make any more boring art”, jokingly adding: ”I will not make any more boring research”.


“I wanted to do interesting work, and out of that came this enthusiasm for research into proactivity at work.”


This perspective has motivated Hannes to develop competencies in various research areas centred around proactive work behaviors.


Hannes will teach on proactivity and organisational change in upcoming MBA courses with UMIO. To learn more about his research and teaching activities see www.maastrichtuniversity.nl/h.guenter.

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