Management and Labor in Imperial Germany: Ruhr Industrialists as Employers, 1896-1914

By Elaine Glovka Spencer | Go to book overview

2
The Entrepreneurial Elite

Owners and Managers

The men who presided over the largest concerns in the prewar Ruhr were fiercely determined to master the organizational problems posed by the increased size and complexity of production and administrative units without making any significant sacrifice in their personal authority. This was as true of salaried executives as it was of owner-entrepreneurs.

From the beginning of modern heavy industry in the Ruhr, the self- reliant owner-entrepreneur was rare. Among leaders in the prewar era, the clearest example of this type was August Thyssen. Born in 1843, Thyssen, with financial aid from his father and other relatives, became a partner in 1867 in a Duisburg rolling mill. He withdrew in 1871 to be on his own, and established the firm of Thyssen & Co. in Mülheim. In 1883 Thyssen began to purchase shares of the Deutscher Kaiser mining company in Hamborn. By 1801 he was sole owner. In building his empire, Thyssen took particular care to maintain his independence, relying upon loans rather than stock issues to finance expansion and utilizing family members as much as possible to staff key positions. 1 Besides the Thyssen enterprises, the only other family-owned firms in the Ruhr that employed over five thousand were three Haniel-owned mining companies ( Zollverein, Neumühl, and Rheinpreussen), the Gutehoffnungshütte, the Hoesch steelworks, and the Krupp steelworks.

The governing boards (Grubenvorstände) of the Haniel mines were presided over after 1893 by Franz Haniel, grandson and namesake of the man who introduced deep mining into the Ruhr. The younger Franz Haniel was also chairman of the supervisory board (Vorsitzender des Aufsichtsrates) of the Gutehoffnungshütte, of which his energetic grandfather had been one of the cofounders. 2 The Gutehoffnungshütte had in Carl Lueg and later Paul Reusch managing directors who were prominent members of the Ruhr elite.

The Hoesch steelworks, though family owned, passed increasingly

-24-

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Management and Labor in Imperial Germany: Ruhr Industrialists as Employers, 1896-1914
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Acknowledgments ix
  • Introduction 1
  • 1 - Coal, Iron, and Steel 8
  • 2 - The Entrepreneurial Elite 24
  • 3 - Ruhr Workers 40
  • 4 - Industry and Government 52
  • 5 - Initial Challenges 63
  • 6 - Company Welfare Programs 71
  • 7 - The Terms of Labor 80
  • 8 - Conflict and Readjustment 98
  • 9 - Containment 114
  • 10 - Unsolved Problems 130
  • Conclusion and Comparisons 139
  • Appendix A Ruhr Coal, Iron, and Steel Corporations 149
  • Appendix B Members of the Ruhr Entrepreneurial Elite 151
  • Notes 157
  • Bibliography 189
  • Index 205
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