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Germany's new top managers? The corporate elite in flux, 1960 - 2005

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  • Freye, Saskia

Abstract

Against the background of an observed strategic realignment of corporations in Germany towards the financial markets and the interests of shareholders, attention is also increasingly drawn to the top managers. Yet recent studies on the recruitment and career patterns of the German corporate elite present ambiguous results. While some studies suggest that career paths remain stable, others find evidence that patterns are changing. Drawing on these different results, scholars either highlight or reject a linkage between the career patterns of top managers and the realignment of corporate strategies. Against the background of these contradictory findings, this paper investigates the changing composition of the German corporate elite. It is based upon a unique dataset capturing the career paths of the CEOs of the fifty largest industrial companies in Germany for every five years between 1960 and 2005. For the first time the development of the career paths of German top managers can be analyzed over a period of 45 years. The analysis focuses on four career patterns which are commonly associated with German managers. Although these patterns appear stable at first sight, closer examination reveals substantial changes. Building on insights from the sociological management literature and economic sociology, the results of this study indicate a link between career patterns and the observed change in corporate strategies. Therefore it is argued that the changing composition of the German corporate elite may be relevant to the discussion on the unwinding of Deutschland AG, the specific corporate governance system of postwar Germany.

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  • Freye, Saskia, 2010. "Germany's new top managers? The corporate elite in flux, 1960 - 2005," MPIfG Discussion Paper 10/10, Max Planck Institute for the Study of Societies.
  • Handle: RePEc:zbw:mpifgd:1010
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    1. Ebbinghaus, Bernhard, 2002. "Dinosaurier der Dienstleistungsgesellschaft? Der Mitgliederschwund deutscher Gewerkschaften im historischen und internationalen Vergleich," MPIfG Working Paper 02/3, Max Planck Institute for the Study of Societies.
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