Christoph Seckler awarded “Top 40 under 40”

Every year, the German business magazine Capital honors exceptional talents from the fields of business, society and politics as well as in science with the election of the “Young Elite – Top 40 under 40”. Junior Professor Christoph Seckler received this coveted award this year. He researches and teaches at ESCP Business School, with a focus on entrepreneurial strategy.

Contributing to companies and society

“I feel really honored to be counted among the Young Elite, the 40 under 40, by Capital!”, says Professor Christoph Seckler from ESCP Business School in Berlin. “For me it means award and incentive at the same time. It motivates me to continue to advance the topic of entrepreneurship. I want to make a contribution to change in companies and thus also in society. This includes an intensive examination of the topic of error culture in order to enable innovation and shape the future.”

In his research, Christoph Seckler has shown why companies fail and identified four process patterns based on the study results. A recent study gives new meaning to humility and shows that it can be central for the constructive handling of failure.

How to learn from failure

Are there patterns that explain why a company fails? And if so, what lessons and new insights can we draw from them to perhaps prevent future failure? Christoph Seckler investigated this question together with colleagues Stephanie Habersang, Jill Küberling-Jost and Markus Reihlen. After all, in Germany alone, the damage caused by corporate insolvencies is estimated at more than 30 billion euros annually. In 2020, more than 330,000 jobs were threatened by insolvencies.

For the study, the researchers scientifically evaluated case studies of 43 companies. What emerged were four process patterns of failed companies, which they named Imperialist, Laggard, Rogue and the Politicized. These frameworks are used to describe archetypes whose approaches are already evident in companies that have not yet failed. Those who recognize the indicators and patterns that point to failure during good times can take countermeasures and avert insolvencies.

The importance of humility in dealing with mistakes

Together with Sebastian Fischer from Hamm-Lippstadt University of Applied Sciences and Kathrin Rosing from the University of Kassel, Christoph Seckler has investigated, as part of a larger research project, which characteristics determine whether a company deals constructively with mistakes. The study adds a significant point to the previous theory of error management, as it showed that participants who handled errors effectively were more likely to be down-to-earth and grateful, as well as open to advice.

 These characteristics are consistent with the psychological concept of humility, according to the study authors. Seckler, Fischer and Rosing describe humility as the willingness to assess oneself correctly, to value others for their strengths and contributions, and to want to learn from others. ESCP professor Christoph Seckler summarizes, “For a long time, research assumed that self-efficacy was crucial for developing a failure management mindset. Now we see that humility is even more crucial. This shows how relevant old virtues can be for the modern workplace.” Titled “Why being humble is so important in the world of work,” the World Economic Forum picked up the topic.