Professor Q&A: Gilbert Probst

Professor: Gilbert Probst
Class: Change Management

Class Description

The course is designed to give the participants a sound grasp of complex organizational change management and organizational design. The challenges managers are facing today in view of continuous change require them to be familiar with the basic concepts as well as the pitfalls of organizational change. As current or future managers, participants need to be able to disseminate best practices and effective strategies to plan and implement change management projects successfully. Furthermore, they are responsible for strategic resources such as knowledge in order to create and maintain a learning organization. The idea of the course is that participants will discover theories and practice by analyzing and teaching the main insights themselves. This will happen through intense case discussions that typically start with a brief theoretical introduction of Prof. Probst, followed by a case presentation of the participants that links theoretical and practical insights, a subsequent in-class discussion, and a more intensive debate in smaller focus groups.


Gilbert Probst is Professor for Organizational Behavior, Director of the PPP Research Center and Co-Director of the Executive-MBA program at the University of Geneva, Switzerland. Gilbert has been an important supporter of IO-MBA and its community since the very beginning, and is now returning to the program with the addition of Change Management to the IO-MBA course curriculum.


How were you first involved with the IO-MBA program?

Gilbert Probst: My involvement goes back to the origins of the IO-MBA. I supported the creation of the IO-MBA as I think it is strategically a wise decision to offer an MBA for future leaders of International Organizations. I taught a couple of classes in the IO-MBA at the beginning and wrote some cases regarding change management in the WHO, UEFA, WEF and more. In 2007 I joined the World Economic Forum as Managing Director and Dean of the Global Leadership Fellows Program. Many IO-MBA graduates applied for positions and we hired several as community managers and fellows, but it was important for me to be unbiased and avoid conflicts of interest in my new recruiting positing. In 2008 I stopped teaching for IO-MBA and decided to concentrate on the Executive MBA as founder and co-director. I’m happy to now be back with the IO-MBA students, who will be joining the EMBA students in my Change Management class.

What unique offering do you feel the IO-MBA programme provides? 

The IO-MBA is a unique opportunity to develop future leaders for International Organizations in public and private sectors. This program equips these future leaders with global contextual knowledge, a good tool box of managerial and change challenges and a good personal leadership potential. The IO-MBA can play a unique role between academic knowledge and reflection and the network with practical situations in IOs.

How would you describe the Change Management classroom experience, which is new to IO-MBA students? 

IO-MBAs have an opportunity to collaborate and learn with executives from private and public organizations, to jointly develop their capabilities in organizational design, understand reasons and interventions for change, increase knowledge and skills in managing change processes and learn to use adequate tools for adapting and evolving organizations.

Change Management is one of the classes that will combine both IO-MBA and EMBA students in one classroom. What benefit do you foresee this providing to students?

I personally look forward to the collaboration of the Executive MBA program (EMBA) and the IO-MBA as I always felt we needed more exchange and understanding, more learning from each other, to develop public private cooperation. I believe that public-private partnerships are the paradigm of the future. The complexity involved in today’s world challenges calls for joining forces. History shows that unilateral approaches have limited impact or even worsened the problem. Each actor only sees one part of the problem. Today’s complex socio-economic problems need to be understood in all their dimensions and, on that basis, sustainable solutions can only be developed through integrated approaches.

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