2021 Best 40-Under-40 Professors: David Dwertmann, Rutgers University School of Business

David Dwertmann is a 2021 Best 40 Under 40 Professor. Courtesy photoDwertmann

David Dwertmann

Assistant Professor of Management

Rutgers University, School of Business-Camden

David Dwertmann is an award-winning professor from the Rutgers University School of Business in Camden. Dwertmann has recently been awarded the Chancellor’s Award for Teaching Excellence at Rutgers-Camden and the Rutgers School of Business-Camden Superior Achievement Award for Research. With about 850 Google Scholar citations, Dwertmann is one of our top publishers to be included in this year’s list.

“My primary goal is to conduct research that positively impacts employees, organizations, and society,” Dwertmann says about his research. “I study diversity and investigate how organizations can shape the social environment in which people work through organizational climate and leadership to successfully employ individuals from marginalized backgrounds. I mostly focus on groups that are increasingly important but have not received the research attention commensurate with their importance: people with disabilities (PWD) and immigrants. My research contributes to our theoretical understanding of the factors that allow for inclusion and the barriers to achieving it.”

Dwertmann is the first professor from Rutgers School of Business-Camden to be included on the 40 Under 40 Professors List.

Current age: 38

At current institution since what year? 2015


Dr./Ph.D.         University of St. Gallen, Switzerland. 2013

Major: Strategy & Management

Graduated with Summa cum Laude (highest honors)

M.Sc. & B.A.    University of Mannheim, Germany. 2009

Major: Psychology (focus on Industrial and Organizational Psychology)

Minor: Business administration (focus on Marketing and Management)

Graduated with Summa cum Laude (highest honors)

List of MBA courses you currently teach: “Leadership and Managing Human Capital” MBA level core class. Taught online and face-to-face.

From Fall 2021 onwards, this class will be redesigned and titled “Foundations of Leadership and Teamwork”.


I knew I wanted to be a business school professor when…

  • There was no single moment for me when I knew this; it was more of a gradual development. Teaching my first course was a milestone. Working with colleagues on research was one. Getting my first paper accepted at a top journal was another and also consulting organizations on how to implement some research findings in practice was another.

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

  • My primary goal is to conduct research that positively impacts employees, organizations, and society. I study diversity and investigate how organizations can shape the social environment in which people work through organizational climate and leadership to successfully employ individuals from marginalized backgrounds. I mostly focus on groups that are increasingly important but have not received the research attention commensurate with their importance: people with disabilities (PWD) and immigrants. My research contributes to our theoretical understanding of the factors that allow for inclusion and the barriers to achieving it.
  • One of my most recent significant contributions is the finding that immigrants from various backgrounds develop a common (supranational) immigrant identity that emerges when individuals from a range of country contexts are exposed to common experiences as immigrants. Joint experiences of being an immigrant, such as operating in a new culture with different customs and norms, creating new social networks, navigating a new legal system, and finding a job despite discrimination hurdles and devaluations of existing educational attainments, connect individuals from different countries, races, and cultural backgrounds. Moreover, while the diversity literature has heavily relied on visual cues such as race, age, and gender to generate important insights into social identity processes, our paper calls into question the strong reliance on these visual cues. Instead, we show that audio cues, more specifically accented language, are a powerful marker of immigrant status and identity and should be better integrated into diversity theory. Both of these factors—a common immigrant identity and the importance of audio cues—have significant implications for organizations (e.g., during customer service encounters) and call into question current business practices, such as including customer satisfaction as a criterion for bonuses and promotions.

If I weren’t a business school professor…

  • My wife would say that I should be a process efficiency consultant. I always look for ways to get things done with minimal effort and time. She tells me that I could just walk through an organization and tell people how to do their job in 70% of the time or with less effort. I am sure everyone would love it. A second option that my wife came up with is spy or CIA agent. I am very observant of my surroundings and have a good memory for faces. She always thinks those would be important skills in that line of work.

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

  • I think I have a very direct communication style and love to challenge my students. Part of that is probably due to my upbringing in Germany where such communication is more common. At the same time, it is important for me to create a classroom climate in which everyone feels included and comfortable speaking up. It is absolutely okay and even encouraged to challenge me if it is in a respectful way. It just shows that students are actually engaging with the material. This is especially the case at the MBA level; I believe that teaching should be a guided conversation and exchange of ideas.

One word that describes my first time teaching:

  • I taught a section of research methods as the head teaching assistant during my undergraduate psychology studies. The students I taught were just one year below me. It was scary at first but I started enjoying it about ten minutes into the first session.

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

  • That it is extremely hard to fully let go and relax. As a scholar, I can essentially do research anywhere, at any time, as long as I have a laptop and internet access. It is a blessing and a curse.

Professor I most admire and why:

  • That is very hard to answer. Especially in hindsight, I always appreciated professors that pushed me and were tough. It might not have always been fun, but I learned so much more in these classes. Manuel Völkle, now at the Humboldt-University in Berlin, was a role model to me. He is super smart but also really down-to-earth and now, I consider him a friend. Generally, I really value people who are confident and grounded and do not think that they have to show off to gain respect.


What do you enjoy most about teaching business students?

  • The focus on application is refreshing because it challenges me to regularly come up with good examples on the spot. Luckily, I have a knack for this.

What is most challenging?

  • I am teaching MBA students face-to-face and asynchronously online. Due to COVID, everything has been online for the past year. One challenge is getting students to critically reflect on the material they are learning. This is hard when I cannot challenge and question their thinking in real time the same way that I do in the classroom.

In one word, describe your favorite type of student:

  • If I only have one word, I would try to sneak in smurious (smart and curious).

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

  • Tough, but fair. I think many students consider leadership and people skills to be easy topics. After my exams and during classroom discussion, they often realize that this is far from the truth. I truly think that dealing with people is the hardest, but most important, skill in business.


What are your hobbies?

  • Watching soccer (my favorite club is Borussia Dortmund and I also used to play for about 20 years) and football, listening to music, traveling, hiking, skiing, golf, and cooking.

How will you spend your summer?

  • I do not teach in the summer and that uninterrupted time is great for research; I will need to revise a couple of manuscripts for journal publication and advance a few projects. In addition, relaxing while hiking, grilling, and spending time with my wife and daughter.

Favorite place(s) to vacation:

  • Hawaii (I love Kauai and the Big Island) and Italy (Tuscany, Northern Italy). I also love going back home, which is the region around Cologne, Germany.

Favorite book(s):

  • I typically try to stay away from books that relate too much to my work when I read for pleasure. One thing I really look forward to is rereading Astrid Lindgren and Walter Moers books with my daughter.

What is currently your favorite movie and/or show and what is it about the film or program that you enjoy so much?

  • I enjoy watching Shameless because of the witty main characters. Superstore is another show that I have enjoyed because it highlights so many reasons why organizations are all about people.

What is your favorite type of music or artist(s) and why?

  • I have such a broad array of music I like. Hip hop mostly from the 90’s, pop, bluegrass, jazz, classical music, electronic music, and of course a lot of German music that I grew up with. I have a Spotify playlist that contains meaningful songs from my life. Currently, it has about 60 songs and continues to grow. But it is a high bar to get on that playlist.


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

  • I think a focus on basic knowledge and skills got somewhat lost. We mostly need to teach students critical thinking skills, reflection, perspective taking, etc. Smart people can easily teach themselves software, etc. Just spend a few hours online. Universities and business schools should not be trade schools.

In my opinion, companies and organizations today need to do a better job at…

  • Being honest about the challenges and possibilities that come with a diverse workforce. I see too much window-dressing and a lack of honest conversations and reflection about tough topics. In general, society needs to realize that few things are black and white, but rather, shades of grey.

I’m grateful for…

  • My family, my friends, my job and colleagues, and where I am today. I am the first one in my family to go to a university. I was raised by a single mom and also by my grandparents for parts of my life. I would have never imagined that I would be where I am at today and, for that, I am truly grateful. It was hard work.

Faculty, students, alumni, and/or administrators say:  

“I always liked the way he encouraged us to think critically. If there was a point he wanted to make clear, he wouldn’t just tell us, he would try to ask questions so that we would come to the conclusion. Also, if you answered a question he may press you for more like “how would that work?” Or “be more specific”.”

“Since the first class I had with him, Dr. Dwertmann has positively impacted my educational experience more than any other professor at the university. (…) Dr. Dwertmann constantly encouraged me to step out my comfort zone. He believed in my ability to succeed and always challenged me, something that looking back on now I greatly appreciate.”

“As a naturally introverted person, I was never one to raise my hand in classes and much preferred to be a wallflower. I would complete all assignments and put my all into my work but when it came to class discussions, I did not speak up all the time. Dr. Dwertmann quickly caught onto this and soon I was being challenged to operate differently than what I was most comfortable with. He spoke with me about my participation and soon would call on me in just about every class to share my thoughts on daily topics and contribute to the discussions. He would provide positive feedback and let me, along with all my other classmates, know that our ideas were valuable. It fostered an environment where our class felt like one big team and we all felt comfortable to speak up.”

“I struggled with my transition into management and this course helped me to understand how to be a leader. I was told by a few of my peers about different tactics that never made sense to me until learning the material from this course. Every week I learned new ways to handle certain situations and now have a better relationship and communication style with my team.”

“This was my first Masters level course and it was a great start for me. Being a manager, the information in this course was extremely helpful for me to improve my leadership skills. The material and lectures really helped take it from information to application. Many of the topics were ones that I was able to use and implement as soon as we completed the module.”

“Even though it has been almost two years since I took his class, I still do not forget his teachings. He is a great Professor who holds each and every student of his to a high standard. He wants to see his students succeed. He is willing to dedicate his time to those who are eager to learn from him.”

“Something changed in me after taking Dr. Dwertmann’s class. Suddenly, I realized that thoughts and ideas mean much more when we have the courage to speak them into existence. I had great things to say, I just needed someone to take a careful look at me and encourage me to step out of my comfort zone. I will always be grateful to Dr. Dwertmann for taking that careful look.”


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