Erich Gutenberg und die Theorie der Unternehmung

  • "Ich möchte in diesem Vortrag Beziehungen zwischen Gutenbergs Theorie der Unternehmung, die in seiner Habilitationsschrift angelegt und in den "Grundlagen der Betriebswirtschaftslehre" entfaltet ist, und aktuellen Entwicklungen in der Theorie der Unternehmung herstellen. Obwohl der Anlaß für diesen Vortrag das Thema hinreichend rechtfertigt, stellt sich die Frage, ob mein Vorhaben ein wissenschaftlich sinnvolles Unterfangen darstellt: Kann Gutenbergs Theorie der Unternehmung noch aktuell sein?"
  • One might easily gain the impression that the academic work of Professor Erich Gutenberg, whose centenary provides the occasion for this lecture, is outdated and has lost touch with contemporary economic theories of the firm. However, this impression would be wrong, as this paper demonstrates with reference to the most recent research into the theory of the firm. Professor Gutenberg was the first and the most influential German researcher in his field, the theory of the business enterprise ("Betriebswirtschaftslehre"), to show how closely the various functions and departments of an enterprise are interdependent. Thus, as the first coherent economic conception of an enterprise as a system, Professor Gutenberg's work provides a suitable frame of reference for assessing recent developments and putting them into perspective. When Professor Gutenberg wrote his seminal "Grundlagen der Betriebswirtschaftslehre" in the 1950s, his work was firmly rooted in the theory of the firm as it stood at the time. In the 1970s and 80s, this close relationship largely disappeared as a consequence of the profound changes which the microeconomic theory of the firm underwent under the influence of the new institutional economics. However, in the last few years, the pendulum has swung back. This is mainly due to the introduction of the new concept of complementarity into the theory of the firm. Generally speaking, complementarity is present if the elements of a system are compatible with each other and reinforce each other in fulfilling the function of that system. Successful enterprises can be understood as systems composed of the complementary elements of organisational design, production technology, marketing strategy and financing; and they should be designed and managed in such a way that the complementarity between these elements is exploited as much as possible. The introduction of an economic concept of complementarity into the theory of the firm not only shows that Erich Gutenberg's view of the firm is still relevant. It also permits business economists to take an economic approach to issues such as internal organisation and strategy which in the past were largely discussed using non-economic concepts. Finally and perhaps most importantly, given the vigour with which Erich Gutenberg fought to establish business administration as a respectable academic discipline, the concept of complementarity can be used to define a new role for "general management" - in German: Allgemeine Betriebswirtschaftslehre - as a field of academic research and teaching. In almost the same way as corporate strategy should consist in establishing and safeguarding complementarity in a corporation, thereby enabling that firm to gain a competitive advantage, so general management, as an academic discipline, should focus on complementarity in research and teaching, thereby offering guidance to business research in specialised fields such as marketing and finance. If the role and content of "Allgemeine Betriebswirtschaftslehre" are seen in this light, general management can again become the core of business administration, as it was in Erich Gutenberg's conception of the discipline - and that would increase the attractiveness of business studies for scholars and students.

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Author:Reinhard H. SchmidtGND
Parent Title (English):Universität Frankfurt am Main. Fachbereich Wirtschaftswissenschaften: [Working paper series / Finance and accounting] Working paper series, Finance & Accounting ; No. 13
Series (Serial Number):Working paper series / Johann-Wolfgang-Goethe-Universität Frankfurt am Main, Fachbereich Wirtschaftswissenschaften : Finance & Accounting (13)
Publisher:Univ., Fachbereich Wirtschaftswiss.
Place of publication:Frankfurt am Main
Document Type:Working Paper
Year of Completion:1998
Year of first Publication:1998
Publishing Institution:Universitätsbibliothek Johann Christian Senckenberg
Release Date:2005/09/28
Tag:Complementarities; History of the Theory of the Firm; Incentive Systems; Organizational Theory; Theory of the Firm
GND Keyword:Gutenberg, Erich; Betriebswirtschaftslehre; Unternehmenstheorie
Page Number:39
Institutes:Wirtschaftswissenschaften / Wirtschaftswissenschaften
Dewey Decimal Classification:3 Sozialwissenschaften / 33 Wirtschaft / 330 Wirtschaft
JEL-Classification:B History of Economic Thought, Methodology, and Heterodox Approaches (Updated!) / B2 History of Economic Thought since 1925 / B25 Historical; Institutional; Evolutionary; Austrian
Licence (German):License LogoDeutsches Urheberrecht