Managing Change in an Era of Globalisation
Edited by Bernard Gazier and Frédéric Bruggeman
6. 1. Germany: negotiated restructuring Matthias Knuth and Gernot Mühge RESTRUCTURING AND THE PUBLIC DISCOURSE German uniﬁcation (1990) was succeeded by the vast de-industrialisation of the East, and from the mid 1990s, continuous and ubiquitous restructuring in the West. Nevertheless, as a result of Germany’s strong export position, the producing sector (manufacturing, construction and mining) still accounts for about 30% of total employment. In 1990, it was around 40%, and so the public discourse on Strukturwandel (structural change) is focused more on the meso and macro levels (sectors and regions) than on the individual enterprise or plant. The term Strukturwandel is primarily used in a positive sense as a process of adaptation that is necessary to maintain the Standort (Germany’s global competitiveness as a location for production). The media will normally only take notice of company restructuring if it entails major staﬀ cuts or even closures and where large and wellknown companies are involved. Unlike in Belgium, enterprises or plants ‘under restructuring’ are not accorded an oﬃcially recognized status and, consequently, there are no statistics on cases of restructuring as such. In the following section, more indirect indicators will be used to assess its importance. 2. IMPORTANCE OF REDUNDANCIES AND DISMISSALS In comparison to France, there are no oﬃcial statistics on dismissals in Germany. Statistics reﬂect those moving from employment into unemployment, but do not record why previous employment ended. During the course of 2006, there were around 2.8 million entries into unemployment directly from...
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