Prof. Dr. Sascha L. Schmidt
Center for Sports and Management

Direktor und Lehrstuhlinhaber

+49 (0)211 44709 740
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  • Direktor des Center for Sports and Management an der WHU
  • Lehrstuhlinhaber für Sports und Management an der WHU
  • Akademischer Direktor der Sports Business Academy by WHU (SPOAC)
  • Affiliate Professor am Laboratory for Innovation Science at Harvard University (LISH) in Boston, USA
  • Dozent am Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Sports Entrepreneurship Bootcamp
  • Mitglied der "Digital Initiative" an der Harvard Business School in Boston, USA
  • Research Associate bei der em lyon business school Asia



Sascha L. Schmidt ist Professor, Lehrstuhlinhaber und Leiter des Center for Sports and Management (CSM) an der WHU – Otto Beisheim School of Management am Standort Düsseldorf. Gleichzeitig ist er akademischer Leiter der SPOAC - Sports Business Academy by WHU und Affiliate Professor am Laboratory for Innovation Science at Harvard (LISH) der Harvard University in Boston/USA. Schmidt widmet sich der "Zukunft des Sports" als einem seiner zentralen Forschungsschwerpunkte.

Sascha Schmidt studierte Wirtschaftswissenschaften an den Universitäten Essen und Zürich, wo er auch promovierte. Auf Einladung der Fakultät der Harvard Business School ging er als Visiting Scholar nach Boston und stieg danach in die Unternehmensberatung ein. Nach mehrjährigem Engagement bei McKinsey übernahm Schmidt die Leitung des ICS-Forschungsprogramms an der Universität St. Gallen und begann, an der EBS zu habilitieren. Nach seiner Habilitation wurde er Unternehmer und baute zunächst das Deutschlandgeschäft des Personaldienstleisters a-connect und zu Beginn des Jahres 2011 das Institute for Sports, Business & Society an der EBS Universität auf. Im Jahr 2014 folgte dann sein Wechsel an die WHU. Im Jahr 2019 war er Dozent beim ersten MIT Sports Entrepeneurship Bootcamp.

  • Name: Sascha Leonard Schmidt
  • Born: February 8, 1971 in Hagen
  • Marital Status: Married since 2003, 3 children
  • Home: Düsseldorf


Datum Universität Position
Seit Jul. 2018 Harvard University, Boston Affiliate Professor, Laboratory for Innovation Science at Harvard (LISH)
Seit Aug. 2014 WHU - Otto Beisheim School of Management, Dusseldorf Director, Center for Sports and Management
Seit Jan. 2014 WHU - Otto Beisheim School of Management, Dusseldorf Professor and Chairholder, Chair for Sports and Management
Jan. 2014 - Dec. 2014 EBS University, Oestrich-Winkel Director, Center for Sports Marketing
Apr. 2011 - Dec. 2013 EBS University, Oestrich-Winkel Director, Institute for Sports, Business & Society
Seit Juli 2012 EBS University, Oestrich-Winkel Senior Professor
Jan. 2011 - Jun. 2012 EBS University, Oestrich-Winkel Honorary Professor
Jul. 2006 - Dec. 2010 EBS University, Oestrich-Winkel Senior Lecturer
Okt. 2003 - Feb. 2011 EBS University, Oestrich-Winkel Lecturer for Strategy Consulting
Seit 2007 National Center for Econometric Research, Brisbane Research Fellow
Apr. 2003 - Mar. 2005 University of St. Gallen Co-leader of ICS-Research Program; Lecturer within Executive Education Program
2002/03 University of Oldenburg Lecturer for Strategic Management / Consulting Research
Jan. 1999 - Jul. 1999 Harvard Business School, Boston Visiting Scholar
1995 Harvard Business School, Boston Research Associate
1998 University of Zurich Lecturer for business administration
1996 - 1999 University of Zurich Research and teaching assistant
Seit 2019 em lyon business school Asia Research Associate
Seit 2019 Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Lecturer at the MIT Sports Entrepreneurship Bootcamp
Datum Universität  
2003 - 2006 EBS University, Oestrich-Winkel Professor thesis (Habilitation) in business administration, reviewer: Prof. Dr. Jean-Paul Thommen (EBS), Prof. Dr. Hartmut Kreikebaum (EBS), Prof. Dr. Martin Welge (University of Dortmund)
1996 - 1999 University of Zurich Doctoral studies in Business Administration (Dr. oec. publ.) summa cum laude; (reviewer: Prof. Dr. Edwin Rühli, Prof. Dr. Margit Osterloh)
1993 - 1995 University of Zurich Graduate studies in Business Administration and Economics (Lic. oec. publ.) summa cum laude
1991 - 1993 University of Essen Undergraduate Studies of Economics
Datum Unternhemen Position
Oct. 2006 - Mar. 2011 a-connect Germany LTD, Dusseldorf Managing Director, built up German business from scratch
Mar. 2005 - Oct. 2006 a-connect Switzerland LTD, Zurich Business Builder, developed financial services practice
Sep. 2001 - Mar. 2003 McKinsey & Company, Johannesburg, Zurich and New York Engagement Manager (Johannesburg and Zurich), PMI Officer of South African banking merger, led strategy projects in the area of life insurance, automotive
Aug. 2000 - Aug. 2001 McKinsey & Company, Johannesburg, Zurich and New York Senior Associate / Junior Engagement Manager (New York), Strategy projects in the area of wealth management, equity trading, clearing & settlement, prime brokerage
Oct. 1999 - Aug. 2000 McKinsey & Company, Johannesburg, Zurich and New York Associate Management Consultant (Zurich), Strategy projects in the area of online banking, PFS business building (incl. alliance‐ and M&A strategy), private banking, corporate finance
2018 Best Teacher Award by SPOAC Sports Business Academy by WHU
2005 European Business School Excellence Award for Research
2005 Thomson South‐Western Award for Outstanding Research Based Paper on Management Consulting, Management Consulting Division, Academy of Management
2005 Nomination for Carolyn Dexter Award for the best international paper, Academy of Management
2004 Best Paper Award, 2nd International Conference on Management Consulting, Academy of Management
2002 Intern. Federation of Scholarly Associations of Management, Best Paper Award in the field of Strategic Management
1999 Swiss National Research Foundation, fulltime scholarship for Harvard Business School


Professional football is a globalized game in which players are the most valuable assets for clubs. In this study, we explore the evolution of the football players’ transfer network among 21 European first leagues between the seasons 1996/1997 and 2015/2016. From a topological point of view, we show that this network achieved an upper limit expansion around season 2007/2008, thereafter becoming more connected and dense. Using a machine learning approach based on Self-Organizing Maps and Principal Component Analysis we confirm that European competitions, such as the UEFA Champions League or UEFA Europa League, are indeed a “money game” where the clubs with the highest transfer spending achieve better sportive performance. Some clubs’ transfer market activities also affect domestic performance. We conclude from our findings that the relationship between transfer spending and domestic or international sportive performance might lead to substantial inequality between clubs and leagues, while potentially creating a virtuous (vicious) circle in which these variables reinforce (weaken) each other.


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Public referenda have recently put an end to the ambitions of several cities to host the Olympic Games. The outcome of referenda depends on two major decisions: a content decision whether to support hosting the Olympics and a turnout decision whether or not to cast a vote. Unlike the content decision, the turnout decision has received little attention in sports economics, even though it can distort the outcome of a referendum, lead to a misrepresentation of minorities, and reduce the acceptance of referendum results. We therefore examine the determinants of turnout at Olympic referenda using a population-representative data set from 12 democratic countries. Our findings suggest a nonlinear and robust relationship between individual support and voter turnout.

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In this article, we aim to contribute to the ever-growing economic literature on the determinants of football stadium attendance by exploring the increasingly important yet underresearched phenomenon of spectator no-show behavior. More specifically, we analyze a panel data set containing unique information on no-show behavior observed in the stadiums of 25 Bundesliga and Bundesliga 2 clubs. Our results suggest that no-show behavior is primarily shaped by explanatory factors related to a football games’ quality aspects (e.g., an appearance by superstars, an away team rich in tradition, and geographical derbies). Interestingly, these effects seem to significantly differ across Bundesliga and Bundesliga 2.

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Season ticket holders (STHs) are an integral part of the sporting product. Interestingly, and contrary to the persistent interest in analysing the determinants of stadium attendances, sports economists have so far largely refrained from exploring the potential determinants of STH loyalty as expressed through regular stadium attendances. In this article, we address this notable shortcoming by exploring the potential determinants of STH stadium attendance demand. In particular, we examine the yet under-researched role of increasing opportunity costs resulting from larger home-stadium distances in STH stadium attendance demand. Our results suggest that STHs’ geographical location plays an important role in predicting STH stadium attendance demand. More specifically, we observe an unexpected, nonlinear distance–attendance relationship, indicating that behaviourally loyal STHs live either exceptionally close or far away from the stadium.

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This article adopts a comprehensive 2-step approach to dissolve recent confusion regarding the role of game outcome uncertainty in the TV demand for international team sports. Analyzing the German TV demand for 457 international football games broadcasted during 6 Fédération Internationale de Football Association World Cups and 5 Union des Associations Européennes de Football European Championships and 287 international games played by the Germany national football team, this study reveals that solely the demand for friendly games is affected by increasing uncertainty regarding the expected game outcomes.

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Much of the research on how human capabilities contribute to labour market success focuses on traditional human capital predictors. However, researchers are becoming increasingly aware of the important role of personality traits in determining individual labour market outcomes, both positive and negative. Using data from young professional football players in Germany, this study investigates the relationship between individual personality traits and cognitive abilities on career success. Our results suggest that individuals who score low on the tendency to be principled but high on cognitive processing speed are significantly more likely to enjoy career success through job promotion.

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Public referenda have gained momentum as a democratic tool to legitimize public mega projects such as hosting the Olympic Games. Interest groups in favour of hosting the Olympics therefore try to influence voters through public campaigns that primarily focus on economic benefits. However, recent studies find no or hardly any economic impact of hosting the Olympics, instead providing evidence for a positive social impact. This raises the question whether citizens consider economic or social factors when deciding on hosting the Olympics. Based on representative survey data from 12 countries, our results suggest that economic factors can influence voting behaviour, although the influence of social factors is stronger.

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To explore the attitudes towards risky career choices of young people in highly competitive environments, we surveyed almost 1000 football players in the youth academies of German professional clubs (Bundesliga), who must generally decide early in their careers whether or not to risk quitting school to focus solely on a professional football career. Based on the survey responses, we empirically analysed which factors influence these youths’ tendencies to choose a high-risk career option over a lower risk one. Our results seem to indicate that such risk taking in competitive environments can be explained by potential benefits expected from this decision, as well as judgments about the likelihood of achieving the desired career. Risk attitudes towards career choices vary by differences in individuals’ estimates of the potential benefits and in particular, in their own assessments of the likelihood of success, which is an important driver of risk acceptance. We also found that opportunity cost considerations influence risk acceptance: the better the low-risk option, the less willing the individual to give it up for a high-risk alternative. In addition, both national origin and level of cultural integration play a role in attitudes towards risky career choices, with reductions in the latter increasing the risk premium of quitting school.

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Despite its prominence in the economic literature, our knowledge regarding the role of game outcome uncertainty (GOU) in spectator decision‐making is fairly limited. Even worse, studies testing the uncertainty of outcome hypothesis (UOH) by exploring TV demand for European football have further intensified the original ambiguity. In this paper, we revisit the role of GOU in spectator decision‐making by testing the UOH with regard to two different sporting products: (1) domestic league and (2) knockout tournament games. Analyzing TV demand for almost 1,500 German football games, we find support for the UOH in league, though not in knockout tournament games.

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This study looks at careers in professional soccer to investigate the determinants of human capital (HC) specificity. Inspired by labour market research, we formulate three hypotheses on how uncertainty about the usefulness of individuals’ (more productive) specific skills affects their investment in (more flexible) general skills. The empirical analysis is based on unique panel data on school grades, soccer evaluations, and sociodemographic characteristics of 90 elite players from the youth academy of a German Bundesliga club. We find that senior and long-serving players, who are comparably certain that their (soccer) specific capital will be sufficient to pursue a lucrative professional career, invest less in general HC at school. Expected soccer performance, in contrast, has a counterintuitive positive effect. Our results expand knowledge on the factors influencing HC specificity from the macro to the subject level and highlight practical implications for institutions that train gifted individuals.

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Despite the increasing internationalization of marketing activities by professional sporting clubs, previous research exploring the role of game outcome uncertainty (GOU) in spectator demand has been exclusively conducted within national contexts. As a consequence, very little is known about the preferences of international television (TV) spectators watching games from abroad. Hence, this study analyzes all 571 English Premier League (EPL) games broadcast in Germany between the seasons 2011-2012 and 2015-2016 in order to explore whether TV demand for transnational football games is affected by GOU. In line with the prominent uncertainty of outcome hypothesis, the results of this analysis reveal a significant and positive relation between German EPL demand and GOU. This result, however, is not consistent for male and female spectators.

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In this study we investigate the important but rather ambiguous role of game outcome uncertainty (GOU) in consumers’ demand for professional sports. Specifically, using a unique and strongly balanced panel data set containing information on individual physical attendance from 13,892 season ticket holders (STHs) of a German professional football club, we find evidence for a positive effect of GOU on two differing spectator decisions – both the decision to physically attend a game in the stadium and the decision on what time to enter the stadium, an aspect which has so far been neglected in the literature. Moreover, GOU seems to play an especially important role in the decision-making of one particular group: STHs with comparatively high coordination costs.

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Although identification is critical to organizational survival, knowledge on how identification changes and evolves over time is still limited. Not only can tastes and choices vary across both social context and time, but individuals can change or choose their identity, as well as their ideals, group loyalty and/or social category. Hence, in this letter, we examine the relation between organizational identification and age using five large sports consumer surveys as a snapshot of the age distribution of team identification. Our results provide evidence of robust U-shaped age profiles, with a probable turning point in the 40s.

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The purpose of this paper is to explore the future of professional soccer by 2025. Scientific foresight studies on this industry do not yet exist despite its current position at a crossroads: toward further exploitation of profit potential? Or clear commitment to the traditional European Model of Sport?

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This paper examines the effect of superstars on external stakeholders’ organizational identification through the lens of sport. Drawing on social identity theory and the concept of organizational identification, as well as on role model theories and superstar economics, several hypotheses are developed regarding the influence of soccer stars on their fans’ degree of team identification. Using a proprietary data set that combines archival data on professional German soccer players and clubs with survey data on more than 1,400 soccer fans, this study finds evidence for a positive effect of superstar characteristics and role model perception. Moreover, it is found that players who qualify for the definition of a superstar are more important to fans of established teams than to fans of unsuccessful teams. The player's club tenure, however, seems to have no influence on fans’ team identification. It is further argued that the effect of soccer stars on their fans is comparable to that of executives on external stakeholders, and hence, the results are applied to the business domain. The results of this study contribute to existing research by extending the list of personnel‐related determinants of organizational identification.

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The purpose of this paper is to examine the effect of superstars (and other factors) on football fans’ attraction to competition (i.e. disloyal behavior).

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This article explores the pay‐performance relationship using a sports data set. The strength of analyzing such data is that sports tournaments take place in a very controlled environment that helps to isolate a relative income effect.

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Am Beispiel des Untergangs der Lusitania und der Titanic wird analysiert, ob und in welchem Maße finanzielle und physische Macht sowie soziale Normen über Leben und Tod entscheiden. In einem quasi-natürlichen Experiment werden multivariate Probit-Schätzungen von öffentlich verfügbaren Sekundärdaten der Schiffsuntergänge durchgeführt. Die Analyse kommt zum Ergebnis, dass es im Wesentlichen von der Zeitspanne zwischen der Beschädigung des Schiffes und seinem Untergang abhängt, welche Rolle physische Stärke, gesellschaftlicher Status oder soziale Normen in lebensbedrohenden Situationen spielen. In zeitlich eng begrenzten Extremsituationen verdrängen Angst und Stress wertbezogenes, rationales Handeln. Es kommt zu einem rücksichtslosen Kampf ums eigene Überleben. Bleibt jedoch in Empfinden und Wahrnehmung der Betroffenen ein größerer Zeitraum bis zum endgültigen Versinken des Schiffes, bestimmen in stärkerem Maße soziale und ethische Werte das Verhalten der Menschen.

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In this reply we show that the Nüesch (2009) comment paper to our initial contribution (Torgler and Schmidt 2007) has several shortcomings. He suggests that professional soccer wages seem to buy talent rather than motivation. We therefore provide a larger set of talent proxies and estimations to check whether this assertion is correct. Our results indicate that his conclusion is problematic. We still observe a strong motivational effect, and in some cases the effect is even larger than the talent effect. A further key problem in Nüesch’s contribution is the fact that he neglects to consider the relevance of the relative salary situation.

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Relative Einkommensunterschiede lösen innerhalb einer Referenzgruppe oftmals Neid aus und beeinflussen damit die individuelle Leistungsbereitschaft. In der ökonomischen Forschung ist bislang dieser Zusammenhang wenig untersucht worden. Unser Beitrag analysiert den Einfluss von relativen Einkommensunterschieden auf die Leistung von Fußballprofis der deutschen Bundesliga. Insgesamt werden 1040 Spieler über einen Zeitraum von 8 Spielzeiten zwischen 1995 und 2004 untersucht. Relative Einkommensunterschiede zwischen Mannschaftskollegen erweisen sich als entscheidender Einfluss auf die individuelle Leistung der Spieler. Eine Verschlechterung in der relativen Einkommensposition vermindert ceteris paribus die individuelle Leistungsbereitschaft. Eine höhere Einkommensungleichheit verstärkt solche positionsbedingten Externalitäten.

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The authors analyze the effectiveness of consulting courses in raising the self-efficacy of participants to cope with the kinds of tasks typically faced by entry-level management consultants. Using data from self-evaluation questionnaires completed by 130 students in three types of consulting courses, the authors find that these courses are significantly more effective than a nonconsulting course used for control purposes. Prior research has shown self-efficacy to be positively related to task performance and to other desirable outcome measures. Therefore, academic institutions can make an important contribution to preparing their graduates for their later roles as managers and consultants by raising self-efficacy through course offerings in relevant areas.

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Focus und Manager Magazin –
Kolumnen von Professor Schmidt

Professor Schmidt veröffentlicht regelmäßig Kolumnen bei Focus Online und im Manager Magazin. Hier finden Sie alle an einem Ort.

08.06.2018 | Warum Real-Rüpel Ramos so viele Fans hat

15.03.2018 | Wie Algorithmen die Zukunft des Scoutings verändern

26.02.2018 | China bringt deutschen Fußball-Clubs ungeahntes Wachstum

08.02.2018 | Sportbosse haben falsche Vorstellung davon, was junge Fans wirklich wollen

08.12.2017 | Hängen paralympische Athleten die Olympia-Starter bald dank neuer Technik ab?

24.07.2017 | Ihre Bank wird bald zum Rivalen für Ihren Lieblings-Fußballverein

30.06.2017 | Tour de France kostet Düsseldorf Millionen - lohnt sich das?

05.05.2017 | Was eSports vom Fußball noch lernen kann

02.03.2017 | Wie neue Daten-Technologien den Fußball erobern

10.11.2016 | FC Schalke 04 macht’s vor: eGaming startet durch

15.09.2016 | Schlucken Profis bald Sensoren vor dem Spiel?

02.09.2016 | Wie Hobbyfußballer zu Alltagshelden werden

26.08.2016 | Bundesliga-Clubs haben ein Problem mit Dauerkarten-Besitzern

20.08.2016 | Bundesligisten konkurrieren mit Großfirmen um Top-Manager

26.07.2016 | Wieso den besten Spielern der größte Absturz droht

15.07.2016 | Treten bei der Fußball-WM 2050 Roboter gegen Menschen an?

06.07.2016 | Superstars im Vergleich: "Was Bale macht, würde Ronaldo niemals tun"

01.07.2016 | Warum die Nationalelf ganz Deutschland zusammenführt

30.05.2016 | Schalke 04 investiert in eSports - ein genialer Schachzug?

09.05.2016 | Bundesliga muss Münchner Dominanz nicht fürchten - sondern als Chance sehen

01.05.2016 | Das Leicester-Märchen: Kann es eine Fortsetzung geben?

22.04.2016 | Die Bundesliga-Clubs müssen bei der Trainer-Auswahl ganz neue Wege gehen

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