Lawyers and businesspeople have much more in common than I thought

Meet Bucerius Master of Law and Business (MLB) Program’s new Academic Director Business, Professor Dr. Christina Günther, who joins the MLB Program as part of the renewed cooperation between Bucerius Law School and the WHU - Otto Beisheim School of Management.

Education & Study |

Professor Günther, Bucerius Law School is very excited to have you join the MLB Program. You have been working on the program for 2021 over the last couple of months. What was your experience and why was it appealing to take on this new position?

Working with the staff and students of the MLB program has been a great experience so far. Everyone I have met at Bucerius Law School is very open minded, and it is great to work with a team of people who are very committed and passionate about their work. The MLB is an impressive, international program which combines two disciplines that can strongly benefit from each other. I’m grateful to be part of it and looking forward to interacting with students and faculty, who are motivated to learn with and from each other. Moreover, I’m grateful to accompany the students on their learning journey and witness their professional and personal growth throughout the program.

Which aspect of your expertise will benefit the students of the Bucerius Master of Law and Business most, in your opinion?

The students will benefit from my experience in applying academic tools in practice, e.g. developing strategies with managers in SMEs oftentimes means to make these tools usable for people from diverse educational backgrounds.

You are an expert in the field of SME as well as entrepreneurship and innovation. What do you enjoy most about this area?

I find it fascinating to see entrepreneurs succeed in realizing their vision despite all the challenges and obstacles they face when founding, financing, and growing a venture. Moreover, when these businesses become established organizations, business owners need to deal with totally different tasks and eventually need to think about handing it over to the next generation, selling or closing the business. It is a great pleasure to interact with business owners and managers of SMEs when conducting research. It is a chance to meet people who are passionate about their work, take responsibility for their action, are courageous and committed, and have impressive stories to tell about their achievements and failures.

You have spent some time abroad conducting research in Spain, Mexico and the US. How did you experience the differences in academic culture?

I really enjoy meeting and being inspired by people who share similar research interests. Many aspects of academic culture are comparable across international institutions. However, one of the things I enjoyed most when being abroad is the less clear-cut division of research disciplines.

What are the greatest challenges businesspeople face in working with lawyers? Have you had some personal experiences in this regard?

I spent some time at a law school abroad and was surprised to experience that lawyers and businesspeople have much more in common than I thought. We definitely share the interest in fairness in general and how to assure e.g. fair competition. Reducing complexity, analytical thinking, and developing precise and consistent arguments are core elements in both disciplines. When working for a consultancy with a focus on competition law, I experienced that challenges arise when economists tend to build their arguments on calculations that cannot easily be boiled down to a single number that allows for a clear-cut assessment of the case.


Professor Dr. Christina Günther studied international economics at the Universität Maastricht (Netherlands) and completed her doctorate at the University of Jena (Germany) in 2009. Since 2014 she has held the IHK-Chair for Small and Medium-sized Enterprises at the WHU – Otto Beisheim School of Management and is one of two directors of the WHU’s Institute of Family Business & Mittelstand. She is a member of the Executive Board of the Academy of Management (Entrepreneurship Division), the world’s leading professional association for management and organization scholars. She serves as an editor for two leading journals in the field of entrepreneurship, Entrepreneurship Theory & Practice and Small Business Economics. She was a research associate at the Max Planck Institute of Economics in Jena and has been honored with numerous international awards for her academic work. Moreover, she was honored as a “Top 40 under 40” by the business magazine Capital in 2019. In her current research projects she investigates the challenges in the growth processes of small and medium-sized enterprises as well as the relationship between ownership structure, location, innovation activity and competitiveness.

Interviewer: Inga Diercks-Ferm
Photographers: Julia Berlin, Ronald Frommann