Ksenia Keplinger appointed Group Leader of the new independent Organizational Leadership & Diversity group
The group will investigate research questions at the intersection of technology and organizational leadership and contribute to more diversity and inclusion, particularly around women in the workplace, at MPI-IS and beyond.
Stuttgart – Ksenia Keplinger will lead the newly established independent research group “Organizational Leadership & Diversity” at the Max Planck Institute for Intelligent Systems (MPI-IS). Before joining MPI-IS, Ksenia Keplinger held a faculty position at the Leeds School of Business at the University of Colorado Boulder in the USA, where she also did her postdoctoral research. She earned her Ph.D. in Social Sciences (Dr. rer.soc.oec.) with a focus on Organizational Behavior from the Johannes Kepler University Linz, Austria, an M.S. in Finance and Management Accounting (Mag.rer.soc.oec.) from the same university as well as a B.S. in International Economics from the National Research University Higher School of Economics in Russia.
Keplinger’s research focuses on virtuous leadership, diversity and inclusion, gender and racial biases in the workplace, and the gig economy. Keplinger uses both qualitative and quantitative research methods to 1) explore the transforming nature of work (gig work vs. traditional employment, mental health in the workplace), 2) to understand how organizations deal with a diverse workforce (gender and racial biases, sexual harassment in the workplace), and 3) to identify effective leadership practices (ethical leadership, leader identity, leader’s emotions).
“For me it is a really big step to become the leader of an independent research group,” says Keplinger. “At CU Boulder I had a faculty position, so I had to divide my time between a heavy teaching load and research. Now I am really happy I can almost entirely focus on research. There are a lot of projects I want to pursue and am really passionate about. My vision is to help leaders contribute to a more diverse, inclusive and tolerant society.”
The most intelligent systems on Earth are individual humans and groups of humans working together toward a shared purpose. These are the intelligent systems that Ksenia Keplinger studies, leveraging qualitative and quantitative research methods to answer timely questions about the human world of work, which is changing rapidly. With that, Ksenia Keplinger’s scientific interests complement those of several MPI-IS researchers who are investigating machine learning algorithms that can make good, fair decisions in high-stakes settings such as giving a loan or hiring a job applicant. After all, the human aspects of most of the technologies created by people are still underexplored.
“My group will focus on virtuous leadership and the diversity of the workforce, how to bring people with diverse backgrounds into one room and lead them well by creating opportunities for growth,” says Keplinger. “I will ask the question what we need to change in our hiring and promotion decisions, as there are often situations where diverse people don’t even have the way in. How do we make sure that the evaluation of job applicants and later employees is fair? Many people have unconscious biases, and some people are aware of this, so the idea of my group is to also work with artificial intelligence and try to make algorithms fair. Can we teach an intelligent system to help us make a hiring or promotion decision that is less biased or even not at all biased? That is a very interesting way for me to contribute to the overall research here at the institute, and it opens up many possibilities to collaborate.”
In the future, Keplinger will also host workshops and seminars on leadership, diversity and inclusion. “Especially here where there are many future potential leaders who will one day become leaders in different organizations, I think it is important for them to gain insights into leadership best practices, how they can effectively manage a diverse workforce. Or even increase diversity and promote inclusion. If you look at the numbers, there are for instance still not many women in leadership positions. I want to help change that.”
“Being embedded in our institute will give Ksenia a unique opportunity to investigate and understand topics at the intersection of technology and organizational leadership,” says Katherine, J. Kuchenbecker, the Managing Director of MPI-IS, adding: “Another highly exciting aspect of her joining our institute is the expertise she brings about diversity and inclusion, particularly around women in the workplace. The Max Planck Society at large is deeply committed to providing equal opportunities to men and women, but progress is slow, particularly in the Chemistry, Physics, and Technology Section (CPTS). Having an in-house expert in this domain will naturally expose all of us to new ideas and best practices for how we can turn MPI-IS into an even more diverse and inclusive place to work.”
“It is my vision and my hope for the future to help people become better leaders and diversity and inclusion promoters. I hope that my work contributes to creating a more tolerant and fair society. Looking back, that would be the greatest thing for me at the end of my career,” Keplinger concludes.
Ksenia Keplinger is Russian and 36 years old. Her work has been featured in outlets including Harvard Business Review, PLOS One, Entrepreneurship & Regional Development, and Group and Organization Management. She has won numerous awards including the REHAU Business Award and the Award of Excellence from the Austrian Federal Ministry for Science and Research.