Germany's Balanced Development: The Real Wealth of a Nation

By Kaevan Gazdar | Go to book overview

will be explored in the chapters on the business environment and the cultural roots of wealth.

Similarly, the reasons why Germany is an electronic laggard are a mix of the quantitative and qualitative. As the McKinsey study Excellence in Electronics shows, companies with the highest growth rates and returns on turnover in the electronics industry flourish under Darwinistic competitive conditions. Successful corporations restructure and grow simultaneously, while reducing complexity in their production processes.21

This is entirely contrary to Germany's ethos of refined craftsmanship, of steady improvement rather than radical restructuring, of specialized complexity rather than mass-production simplicity. In sum, Germany's economic identity is attuned to ecology, not to electronics.

A country's Gestalt is characterized by continuity rather than change. Important elements remain basically the same, despite the passage of time, and can best be understood in an historic context.

Historic portrayals of Germany have often tended to emphasize its authoritarian-totalitarian heritage. From Luther to Hitler: this reduction of German history to a uniform archetype is now considered outmoded. However, the structuralists, who concentrate on class structures, the evolution of institutions, and other non-mentality abstractions, often tend to overlook the woods by concentrating on the trees.

This book adopts a different approach. It examines the importance of institutions like the state, the trade unions and business assocations and emphasizes the enormous role played by the Mittelstandsgesellschaft, Germany's middle-state oriented society. Simultaneously, it acknowledges Luther's seminal influence and begins the chapters on cultural and psychological roots with a brief analysis of the great reformer's impact on cultural norms and psychological proclivities. But it also highlights countervailing factors such as Catholicism's impact on social policies. Similarly, it acknowledges but relativises Hitler's role by arguing that business strategies, economic policies, educational norms, and other primary sources of Germany's economic identity survived and outlived the Nazi period.

This book argues that Germany's real wealth is not excellence but balance. Mittelmaß, best translated as a happy medium of policies, priorities, and accomplishments, is a quintessentially German phenomenon, an amalgam of Mittelstandsgesellschaft, a philosophical search for synthesis and rituals of consensus. Paradoxically, the excesses of the Nazi period stimulated the potential of an economy, a society, and a cultural ambience uniquely attuned to balanced development--and thus uniquely equipped for an age of sustainable development.


NOTES
1.
Paul Krugman, The Age of Diminished Expectations ( Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1994), p. 13.

-19-

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Germany's Balanced Development: The Real Wealth of a Nation
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Figures ix
  • Introduction 1
  • Notes 19
  • Chapter 1- The Mittelstand: Microcosm Of The Germany Economy 23
  • Notes 44
  • Chapter 2- Order and the Business Mentality 47
  • Notes 73
  • Chapter 3- Commitment and the Business Environment 77
  • Notes 104
  • Chapter 4- The Socioeconomic Foundations of Wealth 107
  • Notes 136
  • Chapter 5- The Cultural Roots of Order And Commitment 141
  • Notes 164
  • Chapter 6- The Psychological Roots Of Order and Commitment 167
  • Notes 184
  • Chapter 7- Past Miracles, Present Continuity, Future Consensus 187
  • Notes 218
  • Selected Bibliography 223
  • Index 227
  • About the Author 230
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