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Alexander Donges/Felix Selgert
The Social Background of Prussian Inventors and Entrepreneurs during the First Industrial Revolution
In this paper, we study the social background of Prussian inventors in the mid-19th century, using biographical information for over 1,500 individuals that filed a patent in Prussia. There are four major findings. First, there is evidence for broadly based inventive activity, including a large number of inventors from middle- and lower-class backgrounds. Second, concerning the role of human capital, we argue that a combination of formal and informal education was crucial for the generation of innovation, though the importance of formal education increased over time. Third, we provide evidence that inventive activity fostered social mobility. Many inventors founded companies after they had filed a patent, suggesting that they could exploit their inventions commercially. Fourth, we show that inventors were highly mobile. Inventors migrated to the commercial centers of Prussia, in particular to Berlin and to the booming cities of the Rhine Province. In this regard, migration of highly skilled individuals may provide an explanation for the strong path-dependency that we observe when studying the geography of innovation and patenting.
Boris Gehlen/Christian Henrich-Franke
Unternehmen und medialer Wandel – Skizze eines Forschungsfelds
This article takes up recent approaches in media studies and asks to what extent they can provide impulses for business history. Especially since the beginning of digitalization, individual media have merged into complex media ensembles. Media are therefore increasingly understood as conditions of cooperation and interaction between people, i. e. as socio-technical systems. Picking up on this, the article offers some preliminary thoughts on how this concept of media can be used for future research in business history.
Medien zum Selbermachen Der Baumarkt als Ort des medialisierten Einkaufs seit den 1970er Jahren
Starting in the late 1960s and even more pronounced in the 70s, West-Germany saw an increasing number of hardware stores being founded. Since the idea behind the integrated Do-it-yourself-retail-store originated in the United States, it had to be adapted to suit Western-German circumstances. The problem that hardware-store owners faced right from the beginning, was, that the articles in their stores did not represent finished consumer goods, but rather goods that were meant to be turned into such by being used by the customer. Furthermore, until late in the 70s the products on offer were unfamiliar and in need of explanation to the German customers and therefore consulting intensive. In order to reduce the need for customer advisory, but still offer an attractive shopping experience and moreover to make clear, that the store offers not only products, but solutions to a range of different problems, the store owners, their franchise centers and their trade-association focused their efforts on the use of new technologies. It was the video technology that developed a leading role in this effort: By using this technology, stores were able to combine the offer of entertaining media, explanations to the usage of their products in action (which in turn reduced the need for customer advisory) and illustrations of the features of the DIY-products on offer. Starting in the mid-70s, this led to the production of films, which were shown on infinite loop in the hardware-stores.
«Die fesselndsten Arbeitsstätten» in der illustrierten (Unternehmens-)Presse
The second half of the «long» 19th century appeared to be a period of both rapid economic and medial change in western societies. Large corporations, that often seemed obscure to the public in their complexity and with their mass-production, emerged. Mass production, alongside a less rigid censorship and an enlarged readership also had an impact on the press market, as more and more differentiated media products came into being, the most prominent among them being the illustrated magazine with its multimodal character. As large-scale organizations had a special need of translating their purposes to the public but were in need of public support at the same time, it seems rather natural that alongside other methods they looked for these media products for support or tried to apply their characteristics to own means of communication. Therefore, the presence of corporations within illustrated magazines as well as the presence of illustrated magazines within corporations is to be examined more closely.
Innovationsmotor Medientechnik – Von der Schreibmaschine zur «Mittleren Datentechnik» bei der Siemag Feinmechanische Werke (1950 bis 1969)
The second half of the 20th century is commonly considered to be a time in which German companies lost their innovative strength, while promising new technologies presented an enormous potential for innovation in the US. The fact that German companies were quite successful in the production of medium data technology and had considerable influence on the development of electronic data processing was neglected by business and media historians alike until now. The article analyses the Siemag Feinmechanische Werke (Eiserfeld) as one of the most important producers of the predecessors to said medium data technologies in the 1950s and 1960s. Two transformation processes regarding the media – from mechanic to semiconductor and from semiconductor to all-electronic technology – are highlighted in particular. It poses the question of how and why a middling family enterprise such as Siemag was able to rise to being the leading provider for medium data processing office computers despite lacking expertise in the field of electrical engineering while also facing difficult location conditions. The article shows that Siemag successfully turned from its roots in heavy industry towards the production of innovative high technology devices. This development stems from the company’s strategic decisions. As long as their products were not mass-produced, a medium-sized family business like Siemag could hold its own on the market through clever decision-making which relied on flexible specialization, targeted license and patent cooperation as well as innovative products, even in the face of adverse conditions. Only in the second half of the 1960s, as profit margins dropped due to increasing sales figures and office machines had finally transformed into office computers, Siemag was forced to enter cooperation with Philips in order to broaden its spectrum and merge the production site in Eiserfeld into a larger business complex.
Aus aktuellem Anlass (For topical reasons)
Janina Barth/Andrea H. Schneider-Braunberger
Nutzen von Erfahrungswissen in Krisen
It appears to be almost self-evident that most people look towards past experiences for guidance during times of crisis. We would like to consider the empirical evidence for this assumption by analysing the public discourse regarding the reactions to crises, which includes general reporting, statements from politicians or discussions in the media. The outbreak of the Corona pandemic in Germany, starting in March 2020, opens the possibility to collect several preliminary findings by analysing relevant press coverage in the newspapers. Articles from different sections of the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (F.A.Z.) and from the Handelsblatt were evaluated. As our main interest focuses on economic historical (not e. g. medical historical) research questions, we chose the F.A.Z. First, because its business reporting is important within the German newspaper environment in general. Second, because its reporting on the Corona pandemic was award-winning. Additionally, we focused on the Handelsblatt because the newspaper provides press coverage explicitly on financial, business, and political issues – all subjects directly affected by the Corona crisis. The analysis concluded that there was a rise in articles with historical references in general while the number of articles linked to businesses did not increase at the same time which can be linked to the absence of expert business history opinions on offer.
Werner Plumpe/Alexander Nützenadel/Catherine R. Schenk, Deutsche Bank. Die globale Hausbank 1870–2020 141
Stephan Paul/Friederike Sattler/Dieter Ziegler, Hundertfünfzig Jahre Commerzbank 1870–2020 144
Michael C. Schneider
Jochen Streb, Trumpf. Geschichte eines Familienunternehmens 146
Gesellschaft für Unternehmensgeschichte (Hrsg.), Geschichte der Mast-Jägermeister SE 1878–1997 149
Martin Hinzmann/Joachim Scholtyseck, überlegen führen. Die Geschichte der Baden-Badener Unternehmergespräche von 1955 bis heute. Mit einem Beitrag von Johannes Bähr 150
Jorun Poettering, Migrating Merchants. Trade, Nation, and Religion in Seventeenth-Century Hamburg and Portugal 152
Gianenrico Bernasconi/Stefan Nellen (Hrsg.), Das Büro. Zur Rationalisierung des Interieures, 1880–1960 154
Konrad Adenauer, Ludwig Erhard und die Soziale Marktwirtschaft, bearb. von Holger Löttel
Maximilian Kutzner, Marktwirtschaft schreiben. Das Wirtschaftsressort der Frankfurter Allgemeinen Zeitung 1949 bis 1992 156