Co-determination has served Germany well since the war

Ursula Weidenfeld paints a one-sided and negative picture of co-determination (“Beware of imitating the German model, Mrs May”, July 13). As an essential part of the social market economy model, it has served Germany incredibly well after the war and is supported overwhelmingly by business.

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This letter appeared in the Financial Times on July 14 2016 

Sir,

Ursula Weidenfeld paints a one-sided and negative picture of co-determination (“Beware of imitating the German model, Mrs May”, July 13). As an essential part of the social market economy model, it has served Germany incredibly well after the war and is supported overwhelmingly by business. In particular, Ms Weidenfeld’s assertion that it hinders innovation couldn’t be further from the truth — just look at Siemens, Bosch or the car industry, and the leading position Germany holds with patent applications.

Apart from the obvious advantage of communicating with your workforce, co-determination also acts as a safeguard against the kind of takeovers that are for the benefit of shareholders and management only. It forces companies into long-term thinking and more concern for market share than for short-term profit maximisation, with the survival and wellbeing of the company being paramount goals.

Clearly Theresa May will have huge opposition to backing something like a stakeholder model, as Tony Blair experienced when he made his famous speech in Singapore in January 1996. Rupert Murdoch stopped him in his tracks. The first salvos have already been fired.

Bob Bischof
London SW1, UK
Vice-President, German British Chamber of Industry & Commerce; Chairman, German British Forum

Author: Bob Bischof

German Robert (Bob) Bischof has lived and worked in Britain for 40 years. He is convinced that the two countries can gain much by learning from each other. Well-known for his outspoken comments on economic, political and industrial issues concerning Britain and Germany, he is a regular contributor to a range of newspapers and other publications, including the Financial Times and other national papers.

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