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2019 Best 40 Under 40 Professors: Martin Schweinsberg, ESMT Berlin

Martin Schweinsberg

Assistant Professor of Organizational Behavior

ESMT Berlin

Martin Schweinsberg is part of the team from ESMT Berlin and INSEAD that bagged the silver award at the 2018 annual Wharton School Reimagine Education initiative for their open source negotiations course. “Negotiations Course for the World” empowers local instructors in emerging markets to teach world-class negotiations courses for free.

With a Bachelor’s and Master’s Degree in Psychology from the University of Amsterdam, and a Ph.D. from London Business School, Schweinsberg’s research focuses on competition for social status, how negotiators can create and claim more value and void impasses, and how crowdsourcing can make science more accessible. His research has been cited almost 130 times by other academics and has been published in top journals including Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, and Journal of Experimental Social Psychology. His work has also appeared in The Harvard Business Review, BBC News, The Atlantic, and numerous other publications.

“Martin is brilliant and unusually generous — a rare combination,” one nominator said. “I continually benefit from his ideas. Our students — from degree program to executive education — love him. He has a rare ability to see the most important causes in complex situations and to communicate what he sees simply and persuasively to others — in his papers, in seminars, and in the classroom.”

Current Age: 37

At current institution since what year? 2016

Education: Ph.D. in Organisational Behaviour from London Business School

List of current MBA courses you currently teach: Negotiations


I knew I wanted to be a business school professor when: Someone told me that professors could read, write and think for a living. My parents never went to university and so I had no idea this could be a somewhat respectable job.

What are you currently researching and what is the most significant discovery you’ve made from it?

Most of my research is on impasses in negotiations and seeks to understand why negotiations fail. The negotiations literature treats impasses as an inconvenient truth: we know they exist, but we’d rather not think about them too much. I’m trying to change that.

If I weren’t a business school professor…

I have a long list of dream professions I would love to explore, from archeologist, to journalist, firefighter, and tour guide.

What do you think makes you stand out as a professor?

I’m intensely curious.

One word that describes my first-time teaching:


Here’s what I wish someone would’ve told me about being a business school professor:

How much fun it is, how much freedom you have, and how many wonderful people you can meet.

Professor you most admire and why:

Raising a scholar takes a village and I’m far from growing up! Fortunately, I’ve had the privilege to learn from a number of great scholars along the way. They all taught me to take research more seriously and to take myself less seriously, to pursue the interesting questions, and to stay curious.

I first fell in love with research in a class taught by Carsten De Dreu at the University of Amsterdam and was completely hooked after reading Dan Gilbert’s book Stumbling on happiness. During my Ph.D. at London Business School my supervisor Gillian Ku made sure I wasn’t slacking and pushed me to go further faster. Madan Pillutla and Stefan Thau encouraged and mentored me through difficult times and have spent countless hours teaching me. Eric Uhlmann at INSEAD is one of the most intellectually curious people I know and I always feel better after talking to him.

I’m very grateful to know these extraordinary scholars.


What do you enjoy most about teaching business students?

Having an impact on people who lead others.

What is most challenging?

Reaching everyone.

Using just one word, describe your favorite type of student:


Using just one word, describe your least favorite type of student:


When it comes to grading, I think students would describe me as…



What are your hobbies?

Spending time with family and friends

How will you spend your summer vacation?

In Berlin or in Sydney


If I had my way, the business school of the future would have much more of this…

A sense of responsibility for the societies we live in.

In your opinion, companies and organizations today need to do a better job at doing what?

Building communities.

Faculty, administrators, alumni, and current students say:

“Martin established a strong reputation as a star professor in teaching and research. He teaches negotiations in all ESMT degree programs (MBA, EMBA, and Masters in Management), with consistently excellent student feedback. In addition, Martin has co-developed the open source and free “Negotiations Course for the World” project, for which he was awarded the silver trophy in the MBA & Executive Education 2018 category of Reimagine Education, an initiative of the Wharton School. This “course in a box” focuses on business negotiation education and is specifically tailored to instructors in emerging markets.”

“Martin is an amazing professor. He is razor sharp and the teacher all students love. He is also incredibly nice, friendly, and fun to be around. He is generous with his time and ideas, and I wish everyone could have a colleague like him.”

“Professor Schweinsberg (“Martin,” to his students) consistently stands among the top-ranked professors at ESMT Berlin. He teaches core business topics in a dynamic and varied style, introducing material above-and-beyond what’s expected of a typical MBA curriculum. Core negotiation strategies are complicated with themes of cultural sensitivity, the influence of gender, ethics and other concepts. Each of Martin’s lessons includes an interactive session and individual feedback. Moreover, Martin was one of only two professors who approached MBA students about collaboration for research and casework. His unrelenting drive to improve and change the professional lives of students is unparalleled. Above all, Martin is the kind of professor who inspires trust and builds rapport with students.”