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The Dynamics of German Industry: Germany's Path toward the New Economy and the American Challenge
Volume 6

Making Sense of History

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The Dynamics of German Industry

Germany's Path toward the New Economy and the American Challenge

Werner Abelshauser

176 pages, bibliog., index

ISBN  978-1-84545-072-4 $135.00/£99.00 Hb Published (October 2005)

eISBN 978-1-78238-799-2 eBook

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“This book is to be welcomed primarily because it provides an opportunity for nonspecialists to familiarize themselves with Abelshauser's important ideas. It can also arouse serious discussion about an economic historian's attempt to use history to inform a present debate readers should find encouragement in this book to explore Abelshauser's other great scholarship in detail.” • Journal of Interdisciplinary History

“… a provocative, historically grounded contribution to the globalization debate. And this is what makes the book attractive: no doubt it is stimulating, even one does not concur with the author in all his conclusions.” • Vierteljahrschrift für Sozial- und Wirtschaftsgeschichte


Over the past decade, the "German Model" of industrial organization has been the subject of vigorous debate among social scientists and historians, especially in comparison to the American one. Is a "Rhenish capitalism" still viable at the beginning of the 21st century and does it offer a road to the New Economy different from the one, in which the standards are set by the U.S.? The author, one of Germany's leading economic historians, analyzes the special features of the German path to the New Economy as it faces the American challenge. He paints a fascinating picture of Germany Inc. and looks at the durability of some of its structures and the mentalities that undergird it. He sees a "culture clash" and argues against an underestimation of the dynamics of the German industrial system. A provocative book for all interested in comparative economics and those who have been inclined to dismiss the German Model as outmoded and weak.

Werner Abelshauser taught European History at the European University Institute, Florence, Italy. He now holds the Chair in Economic History at the Faculty of History and Philosophy at the University of Bielefeld and is one of the directors of the Bielefeld Institute for Global Society Studies. His publications include books and articles on the history of European integration, economic history, and business history.

Subject: History (General) History: 20th Century to Present
Area: Germany


List of Figures and Tables


Chapter 1. A living Past

  • Beyond "The End of History"
  • The Splendor and Misery of Rhine Capitalism

Chapter 2. The German Empire - Hothouse of Postindustrial Institutions

  • From Liberalism to the Coordinated Production Regime
  • Patterns of Socialization Compared: The Economies of Germany and Great Britain – Germany—The First Postliberal Nation – From Autonomy to Self-Governance—The German Path to Industrial Development – Market and State – No Antagonism
  • Interest Intermediation between Societal and State Corporatism – The Century of Corporatism – The Failure of State Corporatism in the German Empire – Cartels—Market Regulation German Style – Societal Corporatism in the Weimar Republic

Chapter 3. The German Production Regime

  • The Production Regime of the Coordinated Market Economy – Institutional Prerequisites of Diversified Quality Production – Coordinated Market Economy
  • The American Challenge – The Fordist Alternative – Fordist Strategic Approaches in the German Automotive Industry between the World Wars – Fordism during the War: The Krupp Case – Breakthrough to Mass Consumption – “West German Fordism”: The Volkswagen Case – The End of Mass Production
  • Codetermination: The German Response to the Agency Problem
  • Social Market Economy: Production-Related Design of the Organization and Rules of the Economy

Chapter 4. The German Road to the Twenty-first Century

  • Many Roads Lead to Rome
  • Anachronisms of the “Economic Miracle”
  • Strengths and Weaknesses of the German Production Regime


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