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Labour Markets, Gender and Institutional Change

Essays in Honour of Günther Schmid

Edited by Hugh Mosley and Jacqueline O’Reilly

The original essays in this book have been written by a number of leading international experts in the field of labour market studies to honour the intellectual contribution and lifetime achievement of Günther Schmid.
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Chapter 15: Self-employment transitions in Germany: the division of knowledge and the future of the self-employed entrepreneur

Klaus Semlinger


15. Self-employment transitions in Germany: the division of knowledge and the future of the self-employed entrepreneur Klaus Semlinger INTRODUCTION Following decades of decline and neglect, the re-emergence of small firms was proclaimed in the early 1980s (see Sengenberger et al., 1990). Since then economic and political hopes have increasingly focused on the process of business venturing and on the impact and development of young start-up companies. Now, at the turn of the millennium, the growing number of selfemployed people running their own businesses has tempted some observers to declare a New Age of Entrepreneurship which will change the corporate structure of the economy in general, and the employment patterns of the labour market in particular. For the moment, however, it is rather unclear whether all this will actually lead to a brighter future with a more flexible production system and broader opportunities for self-determined work or simply to greater fluctuation, turbulence and insecurity. Whether by design or fate, many business start-ups do not provide lifetime employment prospects – neither for their founders nor for their employees. Although this is not the only (and maybe not even the decisive) criterion for assessing the success of a (new) business venture, this chapter will concentrate on the impact the start-up boom of the last decade has had and will have on employment. This special focus adopts the notion of ‘transitional labour markets’ as developed by Günther Schmid to conceptualize the possibilities (if not the necessity) for a more permeable organization of and interaction...

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