1st Edition

Rhenish Capitalism New Insights from a Business History Perspective

Edited By Christian Marx, Morten Reitmayer Copyright 2022
    186 Pages
    by Routledge

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    Rhenish capitalism is an ideal-typical model of capitalism which is characterised by a bank-centered financing system, close economic ties between banks and companies, a balance of power between shareholders and management, and a social partnership between unions and employers. The West German economy of the 1950s to the 1980s is the prime example of that model of capitalism which contrasts with the liberal Anglo-Saxon forms of capitalism. In accordance with recent debates about Varieties of Capitalism, the authors argue that research on capitalism should pay more attention to change over time. The book also claims to put the firm into the centre of analysis.

    The empirical contributions uncover the differences between French and German corporate governance practices comparing two European automobile producers (VW and Renault), analyse legal debates and practices of corporate control in post-war Germany, show the tension between national corporate governance and increasing internationalisation by reference to four major West German producers of chemicals, pharmaceuticals and fibres; and explore the opportunities encountered by German big banks vis-à-vis their customers from big industry. Furthermore, they show that coordinating culture in the supply relationship of the German automobile industry came under pressure at the end of the boom and stress the importance of communication processes as a basis for interest coordination in Rhenish capitalism.

    The chapters in this book were originally published as a special issue of the journal Business History.


    Christian Marx and Morten Reitmayer

    Introduction: Rhenish capitalism and business history

    Christian Marx and Morten Reitmayer

    1. The concept of social fields and the productive models: Two examples from the European automobile industry

    Morten Reitmayer

    2. Corporate law and corporate control in West Germany after 1945

    Boris Gehlen

    3. Between national governance and the internationalisation of business. The case of four major West German producers of chemicals, pharmaceuticals and fibres, 1945–2000

    Christian Marx

    4. Financing Rhenish capitalism: ‘bank power’ and the business of crisis management in the 1960s and 1970s

    Ralf Ahrens

    5. Supplier relations within the German automobile industry. The case of Daimler-Benz, 1950–1980

    Stephanie Tilly

    6. Confrontational coordination: The rearrangement of public relations in the automotive industry during the 1970s

    Ingo Köhle


    Christian Marx is Researcher at the Leibniz Institute for Contemporary History in Munich, Germany, where he is working on a collective biography of the top management of the German central bank (Deutsche Bundesbank) in the two post-war decades.

    Morten Reitmayer is Researcher and Supernumerary Professor of Modern and Contemporary History at the University of Trier, Germany.