Die Stiege zum ersten Obergeschoss des D3 Gebäudes.

Isabella Grabner

Univ.Prof. Dr.rer.soc.oec. Isabella Grabner

Univ.Prof. Dr.rer.soc.oec. Isabella Grabner

Institute for Strategy and Managerial Accounting

Education and Previous Positions

Isabella Grabner holds a Master’s degree in International Business from University of Vienna and a PhD in Business Administration from WU Vienna (Title of dissertation "Creativity and Control: Conflicting Objectives?"). Before joining WU Vienna, she was a tenured faculty member at the Department of Accounting and Information Management at Maastricht University School of Business and Economics. She has also worked as visiting researcher at Emory University Goizueta Business School and the University of Technology Sydney.


"I hugely enjoy interacting with students and am highly committed to furthering their knowledge. I want to teach them things they do not learn just by reading the textbooks. I always try to give my students the opportunity to immediately apply their knowledge to real-life settings which is why, whenever possible, I bring business practitioners into the classroom, and take students out into 'the field'. I also aim to get students in touch with (and enthusiastic about) academic research early on, ranging from discussing research articles to conducting small-scale research projects. I am passionate about my research and believe I am a much more effective teacher because of my research, and a better researcher because of my teaching."

Isabella Grabner has wide-ranging teaching experience at undergraduate, graduate and postgraduate levels and has developed and taught various classes on Managerial Accounting, Strategy Implementation, Performance Management and Management Control. She is strongly committed to delivering high-quality education, and has received awards for excellent teaching at both main institutions she has worked for, WU Vienna and Maastricht University.


"Successful universities have shown that they can do it all: excel in academic research (that is also valued by practitioners), and teach innovatively, whilst maintaining strong ties with the corporate world. I truly believe that to reach these goals, the continuous dialogue between academia and business is crucial. My preferred research approach is to exploit synergies between research and business practice. Over time, I have succeeded in gaining the trust of a number of business partners which has led to them providing me with valuable data for research purposes, including access to their employees."

The common denominator in Isabella Grabner’s core research is the design of management control systems, in particular performance measurement and incentive systems. In recognition of her expertise in this field, she has been invited to co-edit the Accounting, Organizations and Society Special Issue on Management Control as System or Package.

Ever since she started her academic career Isabella Grabner has been keen to apply her expertise to highly complex and controversial phenomena in a cross-disciplinary context. She is particularly interested in the role of management control in the successful management of creativity and innovation. Her research includes examining the potentially contradictory nature of creativity and control, and her studies address various dilemmas in control system design in the context of creativity and innovation.

In recent years, Isabella Graber more and more intensively investigated the role of performance management in the identification, development, and retention of talent, and this now forms her main pillar of research. Specifically, her current studies focus on potential explanations for the Peter Principle, i.e., when people are promoted to their level of incompetence, and how firms can avoid it. The implications of all these studies provide a potential explanation for the loss of talent in organizations, as well as a starting point for possible solutions. To this end, in a large-scale research project which has recently started, she and her team are investigating the extent to which the design of performance management systems plays a key role in reinforcing or alleviating talent loss in general, and the leaking pipeline of female talent in particular.

Isabella Grabner has received numerous awards for her research, including the highly prestigious 2016 Best Early Career Researcher in Management Accounting (awarded by American Accounting Association), the 2014 Maastricht University Excellent Young Scholar Award, the 2012 Management Accounting Section Midyear Meeting Outstanding Paper Award, the 2010 Erste Bank Award for Central European Research, and the 2010 Rudolf Sallinger Dissertation Award. She has also received competitive research grants from the Foundation for Auditing Research (2016); American Institute for Management Accountants (2011), and Erste Bank (2010).

Her service to the academic community includes various roles for the AAA Management Accounting Section and reviewing activities for most major (management) accounting journals. She co-founded the Dutch Accounting Research Conference and sits on the editorial boards of Accounting, Organizations and Society (2015-present) and the Journal of Management Accounting Research (2016-present).

She collaborates with numerous co-authors from top universities around the globe and has been invited to give workshop presentations at numerous universities and organizations.