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Promotion of Research in Business History

The Gesellschaft für Unternehmensgeschichte e.V. (GUG) is an internationally recognized scientific institution for the promotion of research in business history. It is represented in the council of the European Business History Association (EBHA) and an affiliated member of the International Economic History Association (IEHA).

Institution for the promotion of scientific interchange: The GUG provides a forum of scientific interchange for all interested academics. For this purpose, as an example, it organizes lecture events, symposia and research groups.

Mediator between science and practice: Research in business history is a process of attaining new insights, which lives by the participation and support of a broad spectrum of companies and business historians. Therefore, the GUG sees itself as a network for the promotion of the dialogue between companies and academics. With this network, companies are able to introduce issues arising from their business into the scientific discussion.

Partner of companies: The GUG assists companies in all questions involving the presentation of their history. It offers support for establishing company archives and the documentation and publication of corporate histories.

New Publications

Dieter Ziegler, Jörg Lesczenski, Johannes Bähr (Hg.), Vertrauensbildung als Auftrag. Von der Deutsch-Amerikanischen Treuhand-Gesellschaft zur KPMG AG, Piper Verlag, München 2015, 312 S., 29,99€.

The KPMG AG, founded in 1890 as the „German-American trust company”, is one of the “Big Four” audit and consulting companies today. The Deutsche Bank, the Bank of Jacob S. H. Stern in Frankfurt and the lawyer Henry Oswalt laid its foundations on 27th March 1890 in Berlin.
The authors trace the development of the first German trust and audit company, not only giving insight into the rise and changes of the tertiary sector since the late 19th century but also presenting the progressive internationalisation of the KPMG group. The book shows that despite political fracture or economic crises KPMG was able to maintain its hold on the market by opening up new fields of business and therefore defending its exposed market position even in times of increased business mergers. The focus has always been put on clients, their challenges and issues and suitable solutions – for the last 125 years.

This publication is only available in German.

Klaus Kinkel,
Grenzenlose Leistung: Die deutsche Einheit und der Einsatz der Telekom beim Aufbau Ost, DVA, München 2014, 384 S., 21,90€.

Telecommunications links East and West.
“Grenzenlose Lei(s)tung” – the German title hints at an unlimited “line” as well as an unlimited “performance” – tells the story how Telekom Ost and Telekom West grew to the well-known company Deutsche Telekom. The fall of the Berlin Wall on 9th November 1989 and the German reunification were the greatest challenges to the Telekom till then: Two firms of different political systems should be merged and telecommunications in the area of the former GDR should be built up and expanded rapidly. Before 1989 communication between East and West was rather difficult – the Berlin Wall and the border fences seemed to be even higher than they eventually were. The backward telecommunications equipment of the eastern federal states had to be brought up to modern worldwide standards. Besides this technical as well as interpersonal challenge the Telekom successfully changed from a state-owned to a private company.
To build a bridge between history and present times the book even discusses the technological future of the Deutsche Telekom which sets new complex tasks in the age of Internet.

This publication is only available in German.

For more information (German) and bonus material, please click here.

Raymond G. Stokes/Ralf Banken, Aus der Luft gewonnen: Die Entwicklung der globalen Gaseindustrie 1880 bis 2012, Piper Verlag, München 2014, 464 S., 29,99€.

At the turn of the 19th and 20th century science succeeds in splitting air into its components which opens up new commercial fields of application. A wide range of possible uses suddenly appear: There is oxygen which revolutionises metal work when combined with acetylene. Or there is nitrogen, which allows producing ammonia in the Haber-Bosch process and, subsequently, shock freezing and the production of electronic components. Today, the products of this “invisible industry” are used in all branches of the manufacturing industry and beyond. This fascinating technical and commercial development is shown in this book for the very first time. The authors do not only show the history of a whole economic sector but they also show the fact that the most stable houses are those which gain their stability due to air.

Christian Marx from the research center Forschungszentrum Europa (FZE) at the University of Trier wrote a review on this book for the editorial department of H-Soz-Kult. You can read his review here.

Werner Plumpe, Eine Vision – Zwei Unternehmen. 125 Jahre Carl-Zeiss-Stiftung, Verlag C.H. Beck, München 2014, 472 S., 38€.

The Carl-Zeiss-Foundation was established in Jena in 1889. Its founder Ernst Abbe brought his shares of the Optische Werkstätte Carl Zeiss, a manufacturer of optical instruments, and his shares of the glass factory Schott & Genossen into the foundation.
This book is the first to do a thorough research on the foundation’s history of 125 years. During the revolution of 1918 the foundation became the overall owner of both factories, which it remains up to now. According to Abbe’s will the companies of the foundation should attend to their scientific and technical tasks without being committed to any shareholder. The income of the companies should be used to support the university and the social infrastructure in Jena.
After the Second World War the foundation was split; since then the foundation is located in Oberkochen and Jena but its aim, now referring to Thüringen and Baden-Württemberg, remained the same. During the German reunification the foundation was reformed but its charitable status was not changed. Therefore the history of the Carl-Zeiss-Foundation gives a unique insight into the possibilities of the foundation model, whose efficiency is controversially discussed once again.

Robert Meier, Vom Haslocher Eisenhammer zu Kurtz Ersa
Eine glühende Unternehmensgeschichte aus dem Spessart, Klartext Verlag, Essen 2014, 264 S., € 19,95.

Since 235 years glowing hot metal has been put into shape by iron hammers in Hasloch, a town in the region Main-Spessart. The local blacksmith, using the force of the Haselbach stream, became a worldwide corporate group. The family entrepreneurs Kurtz have leaded the group since six generations. Whereas many comparable Iron hammers of the area didn’t make it till the 21st century, the family company was able to expand into new business fields and new markets due to innovative products and bold corporate action. The book emphasises the characteristics of the family business as well as the entrepreneurial family. The Kurtz-Ersa group is shown in this book as a typical hidden champion of the globally acting medium-sized businesses in Germany.

Comments of the press:

- report of the Kurtz-Ersa-Histoire-Center’s opening in Hasloch in the Wertheimer Tageszeitung newspaper (31.3.2014).

- report of the Kurtz-Ersa-Histoire-Center’s opening in Hasloch and presentation of the company’s chronicle in the Fränkischen Nachrichten newspaper (31.3.2014).

To read the mentioned newspaper articles please click here.
Laboratory staff in the 30s 
Source: Bayer Business Services (BBS)

Laboratory staff in the 30s
Source: Bayer Business Services (BBS)

Weitere Informationen:
Press articles