Ralf Wetzel

Modern organisations are tricky. They can be stubborn, resisting, escaping, selfish and relentlessly arrogant. Even worse, they know plenty of intelligent ways to transform the management’s decisions from the corner office into something very different at the shop floor. However, that's neither a reason for getting frustrated nor to even try it harder. Instead, that's the moment to discover the true intelligence of an organisational system, to channel and surf on its inner force. How to realise, to 'utilise' that? That's what Ralf since more than 15 years constantly is curious about. He learned that it’s not about breaking resistance but to turn it into positive energy. It’s about taking an organization serious as a system with a special autonomy and own rules. Since we need frameworks and tools which can accept and cope with this autonomy, Ralf strives for a new and more intelligent way of running organisations. His internationally collected expertise as manager and researcher in observing, channelling and surfing on pure organisational intelligence is what you can directly benefit from.

Job Title : Associate Professor for Organization & Management

Management Domain
People Management & Leadership

Teaching in
Masters in General Management

Expert in
Change Management
Organisational Dynamics
Arts & Management


Ralf Wetzel began his career as an electrician. He joined Vlerick Business School as a Professor of Organization and Management after extensive work experience in management and organization research and after being a head of a joint research and consulting group. His career path led him from Germany to the UK, via Switzerland to Belgium.

He applies art-based research like improvisation principles and theatre play in his work, especially for inquiring into topics like organization theory & behaviour, change management, consulting, leadership, organization & society. Aside of his academic writing, he loves to turn research results into art-based forms like fiction, accessible for non-academic readers.



Articles in refereed journals with impact

  • Wetzel R. Dievernich F.  2014. Mind the gap. Exploring the impact of post-change periods. Systems research and behavioral science, 31(2): 280-300.

  • Wetzel R. Van Gorp L.  2014. Eighteen shades of grey? An explorative literature review into the theoretical flavours of organizational change research. Journal of Organizational Change Management, 27(1): 115-146.

Articles in other (un)refereed journals

  • Wetzel R. Van Renterghem N.  2016. How to access organizational informality. Using movement improvisation to address embodied organizational knowledge. Organizational Aesthetics, 5(1): 47-63.

  • Gentile G. Wetzel R. Wolf P.  2015. The non-sense of organizational morality: Processing Corporate Volunteering between formal and informal organizational structures. Journal for Global Responsibility, 6(1): 19-44.

  • Wetzel R.  2015. Who am I and if yes, how many?’ Notes on the myth of leadership authenticity. TAMARA. Journal for Critical Organization Inquiry, 15(1-2): 41-53.

  • Fischer I. Wetzel R.  2015. Die Macht der Improvisation. Über den gezielt ungeplanten Erfolg zweier Regisseure und was das für betriebliches Veränderungsmanagement bedeuten könnte. Zeitschrift für Organisationsentwicklung & Changemanagement, (4): 66-71.

  • Nees F. Wetzel R.  2015. Der Stolz der Veränderung. Una Leccion del Tango Argentino. Lernende Organisation, 88(4): 31-41.

  • Wetzel R.  2014. Der Gott des Gemetzels. Wie Organisationen und Familien auf modernen Gleichheitsdruck reagieren. Kontext. Zeitschrift für Systemische Therapie und Familientherapie, 45(2): 126-154.

  • Wetzel R. Dievernich F.  2014. The god of carnage. How organizations and families react to modern equality demands. Kontext. Zeitschrift für familientherapie und systemische Therapie, 45(1)

  • Dievernich F. Wetzel R.  2013. Die gemeinschaft der unternehmensberater und das schweigekartell des beratungssystems. Revue für postheroisches management, 6(3): 182-187.

  • Dievernich F. Wetzel R.  2011. Der Tanz des Managements. Zu einem klugen Umgang mit Leitdifferenzen. OrganisationsEntwicklung - Zeitschrift für Change Management and Unternehmensentwicklung, 1(11): 65-72.

  • Roth S. Wetzel R. Müller K.  2011. Going beyond the hardcore of innovation. Non-technological and non-economic dimensions of innovation systems. International Journal of Innovation and Regional Development, 3(1): 1-11.

  • Dievernich F. Wetzel R.  2011. Mehr Vertrauen? Skepsis als Bindeglied zwischen Unternehmen und Gesellschaft. ZFO Zeitschrift Führung and Organisation, 3(80): 147-153.

  • Wetzel R. Rosenbichler U.  2011. Organizational teflon. Über die subtilen Techniken der Organisation bei der Absorption moralischer Zumutungen. Diversitas. Zeitschrift für Managing Diversity und Diversity Studies, 2(2): 3-14.

  • Wetzel R. Dievernich F.  2011. Intelligenter Beraten. Orientierungspunkte für eine Beratung im Kontext von Müdigkeit, Immunität und Atemlosigkeit. Fromm Forum, (15): 16-23.

  • Müller K. Wetzel R. Roth S.  2010. Non-technological and non-economic dimensions of national innovation systems. Journal for Innovation and Regional Development,

Book Chapters

  • Wetzel R.  forthcoming. The myth of participation. An organizational perspective. In: Kranz O. Steger T. Ed. Participation in transitioning economies Hampp Publishing.

  • Wetzel R.  2015. Strange Encounter: An Inquiry Into the Popularity of Participation in Organizations. In: Dievernich F. Tokarski K. Gong J. Eds. Change Management and the Human Factor: Advances, Challenges and Contradictions in Organizational Development (pp. 223-245). Springer.

  • Gentile G. Wolf P. Wetzel R.  2014. Des Kaisers neue Kleider. Von der Suche nach persönlichem Sinn im Rahmen organisationaler Heuchelei – das Beispiel der Corporate Social Responsibility. In: Clases C. Dick M. Manser T. Vollmer A. Ed. Grenzgänge der Arbeitsforschung. Eine festschrift für Theo Wehner (pp. 257-264). Pabst Science Publishers.

  • Wetzel R.  2014. Was ist der Phall und was steckt dahinter?“ Der Beitrag der Systemtheorie zur Beschreibung organisierter Geschlechterungleichheit. In: Funder M. Ed. Gender Cage - Revisited (pp. 89-121). Nomos.

  • Wetzel R.  2014. Gesellschaftliche Partizipationsemantik und Organisation. In: Kranz O. Steger T. Ed. Between Instrumentality and Insignificance - Employee Participation in the Context of Organizations in Central and Eastern Europe (pp. 15-53). Hampp.

  • Wetzel R. Dewettinck K.  2012. Collaborative structure: organisational design for high performance organisations. In: Slagmulder R. Verweire K. Dewettinck K. Ed. Managing for performance excellence (pp. 102-134).

  • Wetzel R.  2011. Netzwerke - Managementkonzept oder Mythos? Grundlegende theoretische Überlegungen und Gestaltungsvorschläge. In: Kapelke C. Ulreich B. Eds. Bildungsforschung für Praktiker in der Erwachsenenbildung (pp. 15-28).


  • Wetzel R. Regber H.  2013. To change or not to change? The surprising reality of change in organizations. LannooCampus.

  • Scheiber L. Roth S. Wetzel R.  2010. Identity and organization in the next society. 

  • Wetzel R. Aderhold J. Rückert-John J.  2009. Die organisation in unruhigen zeiten. Uber die Folgen von Strukturwandel, veränderungsdruck und funktionsverschiebung. 

Conference Presentations

  • Wetzel R. Nees F.  2015. Tango your leadership! What to learn from Tango Argentino. Paper presented at 10th Colloquium on Organizational Change & Development - Change Management: Past, Present and Future, September 11-12, Larnaca, Cyprus.

  • Wetzel R.  2014. Carnage. How families and organizations cope with modernity. Paper presented at British Academy of Management Meeting, September 9-11, Belfast, United Kingdom.

  • Wetzel R. Vanleeuw E.  2014. Back into the future. What modern organizations can learn from the Society of Jesus. Paper presented at 9th EIASM Workshop Organizational Change, Essen, Germany.

  • Wetzel R.  2014. Picking the Wildcard. How improvisation can change change management. Paper presented at 9th EIASM Workshop Organizational Change, Essen, Germany.

  • Wetzel R.  2014. Cutting a long story short. Applicability and modern organization theory. Paper presented at British Academy of Management Meeting, September 9-11, Belfast, United Kingdom.

  • Wetzel R. Van Driel R.  2014. The three faces of organizations as embedding for improvisation. Paper presented at World Congress of Applied Improvisation, Texas, United States.

  • Wetzel R.  2014. Who am I and if aso, how many? Notes on the myth of authenticity. Paper presented at British Academy of Management Meeting, September 9-11, Belfast, United Kingdom.

  • Wetzel R. Buelens M.  2014. The Via Negativa in change management. Paper presented at EGOS Colloquium, Rotterdam, the Netherlands.

  • Wetzel R. Dievernich F.  2012. Between a Rock and a Hard Place. Sensemaking in Post-Change Situation. Paper presented at 12th EURAM Conference, June 6-8, Rotterdam, the Netherlands.

  • Wetzel R.  2012. The myth and reality of participation. Paper presented at 7th EIASM Workshop on organizational change, September 12-13, Bern, Switzerland.

  • Wetzel R. Dievernich F.  2012. Between a Rock and a Hard Place. Sensemaking in Post-Change Situation. Paper presented at 28th EGOS Colloquium, July 5-7, Helsinki, Finland.

  • Dievernich F. Wetzel R.  2011. Demography and work-life-balance: Challenges for the recruitment of high potentials. Paper presented at 26th Strategic Human Resource Management Conference, May 17-18, Reykjavik, Iceland.

  • Wetzel R.  2011. The modern myths of participation – an organizational perspective.. Paper presented at 10th Chemnitz East Forum, September 14-16, Chemnitz, Germany.

  • Gentile G. Wetzel R.  2011. The non‐sense of organizational morality: Processing Corporate Volunteering between formal and informal organizational structures. Paper presented at 10th Conference on Corporate Social Responsibility, May 18-20, New Orleans, United States.