BASF: Innovation and Adaptation in a German Corporation since 1865

BASF: Innovation and Adaptation in a German Corporation since 1865

BASF: Innovation and Adaptation in a German Corporation since 1865

BASF: Innovation and Adaptation in a German Corporation since 1865

Synopsis

The corporate history of BASF spans an era of German and international economic history that began with the rise of the 'new industries' as of the late nineteenth century and continues today in their confrontation with the new economy. This book examines BASF's corporate governance, financial system, industrial relations, system of qualification and relation to other companies. A corporate history of BASF promises more than an insight into the functioning of an industrial organisation. It also reveals the reasons for the extraordinary economic dynamics of the German empire and the enormous expansion of the world economy before World War I. BASF's history stands at the centre of Germany's wartime economy during two world wars and highlights both its strengths and weaknesses. Just as the IG Farben trust helped support Germany's course of politicoeconomic autarky after 1933, so it was that BASF helped facilitate West Germany's startlingly quick return to the world market. BASF has since been among the transnational companies whose efforts at the leading edge of economic and technological progress are paradigmatic for Germany's entry into the new economy of the twenty-first century.

Excerpt

The corporate history of basf (Badische Anilin- & Soda-Fabrik, founded in 1865), spans an era of German and international economic history that began with the rise of the “new industries” as of the late nineteenth century and continues today in their confrontation with the new economy. basf is one of the pioneers of that “second economic revolution,” whose significance in the eyes of Douglass C. North, a founding father of New Institutional Economics, far surpasses that of other economic turning points such as the Industrial Revolution. Ever since basf was created in the midst of this revolutionary upheaval, it has had a hand in actively laying the groundwork and shaping the conditions of this stage of western economic life. the company embodies a special symbiosis between business and scientific research, one that has constituted the essence of economic value-added – and not only at basf – from the outset but also increasingly in the economy at large.

The new industries of the late nineteenth century long ago became mainstays of the German economy. They now determine the tempo of growth, sustain the labor market, and influence what happens on the stock market. They are responsible for the leading role of exports as well. It is certainly no exaggeration to say that the future of the German economy (and many others) in the postindustrial age depends on the fate of these industries and on their competitiveness on the world market. That link makes the history of a company that is now nearly 140 years old an important chapter in a still unfinished epoch of economic history. Like most companies of new industry, basf is among the pioneers of expanding global and transnational market relations. This expansion started in the first decades of the company’s existence. By the outbreak of World War I, the dimensions and dynamics of the world market had already developed to a level not achieved again until the second half of the twentieth century. Though the process known today as globalization was repeatedly interrupted by two world wars and the Great Depression, its intrinsic coherence remained intact. This point becomes clearer from the company’s history than from a macroeconomic perspective. basf developed at the forefront of the process but was also drawn deep into . . .

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