Prof. Claus D. Jacobs, Ph.D.

Member of the Board of Directors, Professor of Public Management and Organization, Head of KPM Executive Education (MPA, CeMaP)


As organizational scholar, Claus‘ research focuses on strategy development and implementation in pluralistic organizations as well as on the dynamics of organizational change, identity and culture. He is a visiting professor at University of St. Gallen as well as an Associate Fellow at Saïd Business School, University of Oxford.

His work has been published in Academy of Management Journal, Organization Studies, Journal of Management Studies, Strategic Organization, Long Range Planning, Human Relations, Journal of Applied Behavioral Science, Journal of Organizational Change Management, Journal of Business Strategy, Journal of Management Inquiry, Scandinavian Journal of Management, Voluntas - International Journal of Voluntary and Non-profit Organizations as well as in MIT Sloan Management Review.

He is member of the editorial boards of Journal of Management Studies, Long Range Planning, Scandinavian Journal of Management and Systemic Practice. He reviews for Academy of Management Journal, British Journal of Management, Culture and Organization, Human Relations, Management Learning, Journal of Management Studies, Organization, Organization Studies, Strategic Management Journal und Strategic Organization. He serves also as a reviewer for the Swiss National Science Foundation (SNF) and the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) in the UK.

Claus is a founding member of the Strategy-as-Practice International Network ( and member of the Academy of Management Special Interest Group ‘Strategizing Activities and Practice’ Executive Committee (

A graduate of Witten/Herdecke University in Germany, he holds a Ph.D. from Trinity College Dublin (Ireland). After three years as a Senior Research Fellow in ‘Strategic Change and Innovation’ at Imagination Lab Lausanne, he served as Swiss National Science Foundation Professor in Strategy and Organization at University of St. Gallen.


Current Projects

"How 'new work' settings shape organizational identity beliefs" (IDENTITY)

Organizational identity - the shared sense of 'who we are as an organization' – figures prominently in organizational scholarship. As a battery of ‘new work’ practices has entered the workplace – such as flexible working hours, desk sharing, teleworking, as well as agility and holacracy approaches – the context for organizational identity construction has changed substantively. Despite their prevalence in the workplace, however, the interrelation between ‘new work’ settings and processes of organizational identity construction remain theoretically underconceptualized and empirically underexplored. Thus, the study asks: how do organizational members in ‘new work’ settings construct shared organizational identity beliefs?

Funded by: Swiss NSF
Co-PI and project coordinator: Emamdeen Fohim
Project partners: Renate Meyer, Oliver Neumann, Christopher Steele, Eero Vaara

"Undoing stigma – Enacting palliative care in children's hospital" (CHANGE)

Understanding how practices are adopted in organizations has been a long-standing puzzle in organizational studies – a puzzle even more pertinent in health care organizations which continuously strive to develop and implement ever more effective clinical practices. While rational and institutional angles offer important, partial explanations, a practice-based view engages with the actual micro-sociological dynamics of practice adoption. A particularly pertinent and consequential barrier for practice adoption consists in the stigmatization of practices. Drawing on a longitudinal, indicative case study of palliative in a children's hospital, this study explores how novel, effective practices are stigmatized and destigmatized.

PhD candidate: Konstanze Krüger

"Making sense of reliability threats: Exploring risk work in Swiss prisons" (SENSEMAKING)

Societies oftentimes hand collective high risk phenomena such as health, energy or criminal justice to specialized 'high reliability' organizations such as hospitals, power plants or prisons for that matter. Prisons are particularly risky places as they are concerned with a substantive no-error expectation to keep the public as well as the detainees safe – thus they are exemplary loci of specialized risk work. How a prison copes with and processes critical incidents is thus a key component of very mundane, yet crucial risk work in prisons. From an organizational scholar perspective, critical incidents are occasions for sensemaking, i.e. the process through which people understand novel, ambiguous events that violate prior expectations. Thus, this study asks: how do risk workers in prisons make sense of critical incidents? 

PhD candidate: Catharina Geurtzen

"How do social entrepreneurs persuade backers through verbal and visual Communication?" (STRATEGY) 

The primary aim of social enterprises is to create value for those who are less fortunate, thereby helping to address some of today's significant global challenges. However, social entrepreneurs often find it difficult to acquire resources through traditional financial institutions. Crowdfunding platforms offer social entrepreneurs an alternative way to finance their projects and ventures. As the success of crowdfunding campaigns crucially depends on social entrepreneurs' strategy to garner support and legitimacy from potential backers, it becomes essential to understand the mechanisms at play in persuading others about the feasibility and attractiveness of their projects or ventures. Hence, this study asks: which persuasive strategies and practices do social entrepreneurs employ to effective mobilize support for their resource acquisition through crowdfunding?

Funded by: Swiss NSF
PhD candidate: Maria Riniker
Project partner and PI: Pascal Dey

"How do small and medium-sized social welfare organizations cope with organizational challenges triggered by digitization?" (DIGITIZATION)

Public organizations increasingly embrace processes and practices and digitization. While large social welfare organization have the resources and capabilities to scale their organizations accordingly, small and medium-sized social welfare organizations struggle. Thus, if we are to understand the critical success factors of digitization in social welfare organizations of this type, we need to thoroughly reconstructs the organizational enablers and barriers for technology take up. Specifically, we need to understand the structural, procedural, cultural and strategic challenges and changes this might entail. Hence, this study asks: how do small and medium-sized social welfare organization cope with digitization?

Funded by: Center for Digitization and Technology, HSU
Researcher: Magdalena Waeber
Project partners and PI: Tobias Scheytt, Jaromir Junne, Vera Linke

Past Projects 

„swiss bee ‘O‘ diversity“ – Biodiversität im Siedlungsraum durch Wildbienenförderung“ (SUSTAINABILITY)

Funded by: 2015-2018 Gebert Rüf Foundation – 
Project partners: Hans Ramseier, Claudio Sedivy

„Seeking strategic coherence – Balancing internal and external legitimacy in pluralistic settings“ (STRATEGY)

Swiss National Science Foundation Professorship (2012-2014) at University of St. Gallen
Funded by: Swiss NSF 

„Strategy as discourse – Reconstructing a social practice“ (STRATEGY)

Swiss National Science Foundation Professorship (2008-2012) at University of St. Gallen
Funded by: Swiss NSF 

„Practices of strategizing“ (STRATEGY)

Funded by: University of St. Gallen Research Fund (2006-2008)

„Technology in action at CERN IT“ (DIGITIZATION)

Funded by: University of St. Gallen Research Fund (2005-2006)


We supervise master theses of the Master PMP, within the scope of public management, organization and strategy of public organizations.

The following topics are particularly compatible with our own research agenda and expertise:


  • Strategic management in public organizations
  • Strategic analysis of the organization and its environment
  • Strategy development, implementation and control
  • Strategic change



  • Organizational change and transformation
  • Organizational culture
  • Organizational identity
  • Interorganizational/interdepartmental/interprofessional collaboration



  • Integrating sustainable development into administrative practices
  • Sustainable development as a normative organizational goal

Other topics may also be considered after consultation.

Methodologically, our expertise lies in interpretive, qualitative designs, especially case studies. In principle, a qualitative empirical investigation follows the logic of a "U-shape" presented here. Each of these argumentative steps basically represents a chapter of the thesis.

In this sense, and if you contact us, we ask you to briefly outline the following aspects on 1-2 pages:

  1. "Hook": general question of the thesis
  2. Concepts, scientific literature and research question
  3. Method and data

You are welcome to contact us at