Fostering practical wisdom in executive education in a business school setting

Wolfgang C. Amann

Research output: ThesisPhD Thesis - Research UT, graduation UT

168 Downloads (Pure)


Business environments are now frequently described as VUCA – volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous. The COVID-19 pandemic breaking out in 2020 serves as a case in point. Therefore, strategies, business models, tactics, and plans set for the year were challenged. In this situation, executives worldwide did not suffer from insufficient general knowledge about strategizing, business modeling, or planning. This research project posits that what practitioners need to survive and thrive is practical wisdom. Executive education institutions play a crucial role in supporting them.

Embarking on exploratory research, this study addresses the research question of how executive education course participants perceive the process of developing practical wisdom in business schools? Adopting a constructivist grounded theory design, 32 in-depth one-on-one interviews served as the basis for an emerging substantive theory. It portrays a three-act process and six concrete steps to explain how study participants grew their practical wisdom.

The thesis contributes to several fields within the academic body of knowledge, e.g., rethinking practical wisdom, improving leadership development, and modernizing executive education and business schools overall. The research yields five suggestions for future research and adds ten testable hypotheses. Regarding practice, several stakeholders can benefit from new insights. Society at large, organizations as both value creators and employers, learners, and the learning architects in executive education providers could benefit from a better understanding and corresponding improvements. Thus, gained insights contribute to a better return on education (ROE). It also prepares the learner more aptly for this VUCA world.
Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
Awarding Institution
  • University of Twente
  • van Hillegersberg, Jos, Supervisor
  • Vossensteyn, Hans, Co-Supervisor
Award date13 Jul 2022
Place of PublicationEnschede
Print ISBNs978-90-365-5402-2
Publication statusPublished - 25 Jun 2022


  • complexity
  • practical wisdom
  • executive education


Dive into the research topics of 'Fostering practical wisdom in executive education in a business school setting'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this