Whether the media reports on the EU's struggles portray the country as a model of fiscal responsibility or a stern parental figure, Germany has been seen as Europe's economic rudder. So what is the key to Germany's steady approach? "Family," says Olaf Plötner . As in, family-run-businesses. In a post at Forbes.com , Plötner, dean of executive education at the European School of Management and Technology (ESMT) in Berlin, points to successful German firms that take a long-term view on business success: These organizations have been able to avoid the focus on the short-term shareholder that dogs so many large companies elsewhere because of an ownership structure that seems unique to Germany. A considerable number of successful German companies, such as Metro AG, the Oetker Group, and Fresenius, to name just a few, are family owned and therefore not constricted by immediate market demands. According to a 2012 study by the Institute for SME Research (IfM), in Bonn, the 4,400 major family-owned industrial firms with revenues of more than 50 million euros accounted for 43% of all German exports in 2011. In 85% of these businesses, at least one family member is active on the board. It’s a clear demonstration of the importance these companies give to uniting ownership and management. Furthermore, the study found that the main management ideals within these enterprises were securing the family business and an orientation toward long-term goals. Of course not all of Germany’s most high profile companies are owned by families. But of those that are not, many are owned, at least in part, by foundations. In a model that has been common in Germany for more than a century, foundations do not have return on capital as their principal goal. Contribution to society has always played an important part. The Robert Bosch Foundation, for example, owns 92% of Bosch the home appliances giant and focuses on long-term growth and employee welfare. The Bertelsmann Foundation holds a 75% stake in the media group Bertelsmann AG, and the legendary optics firm Carl Zeiss AG is completely owned by the Carl Zeiss Foundation, which states that its mains goals include the economic security of the company and social responsibility. Read The Family Secret That Makes German Companies So Successful here .
Filed under: global business, Forbes, strategic thinking, strategic management, sustainable growth, roi, prioritizing, grwoth strategies, family owned business, Olaf Plötner, German business