Historische Sozialwissenschaft

The history of the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy

On November 1, 2011, the German Federal Minister for Economic Affairs appointed Werner Abelshauser as part of the ministries independent historical commission. This commission is tasked with researching the history of German economic policy featuring the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy and its predecessor organizations as main actors. Starting with the history of the establishment of the Reich Office of Economic Affairs in 1917 (previously part of the Reich Interior Ministry), the research project covers the period until German reunification in 1990 with a perspective to present time. The results will be published in four volumes, that is for the period until 1933 (I), from 1933 to 1945 (II), from 1945 to 1990 in the Federal Republic of Germany (IV), as well as parallel structures from 1945 to 1990 in the German Democratic Republic (III).
Abelshauser is managing editor of the fourth volume (Federal Republic of Germany from 1945 to 1990). It will be focused on the very character of German economic policy on two empirical fields: How is German economic policy placed between the single European market and world market strategies? And what is its position between economic governance (Ordnungspolitik) and process policy: i.e. regulary economic governance (Produktive Ordnungspolitik). He has asked colleagues from German and British Universities with extensive research experience in economic history to contribute to this volume. He will also contribute three articles to the publication as a whole. For research into source materials, the authors will travel not only to the Federal Archives in Berlin and Koblenz, but also to the State, Federal and European Archives in London, Paris, Washington, D.C. and Florence. The project will be completed in late 2015.

Economic cultures in global-comparative perspective

When David Ricardo published his theorem of comparative (labor) cost advantages he triggered a revolution within the theory of world trade which is still state of the art. Almost 200 years later and against the background of postindustrial development, we need a new approach because labor costs are no longer the most decisive factor for competitive advantage on technologically advanced markets. Yet the key to immaterial (post-industrial) production is comparative institutional advantages based on new, widely accepted mindsets (shared mental models) and market behavior – the rules of the game. An economic culture of this kind is important within clearly defined fields of the social system of production, such as the financial system, corporate governance, interest policy, the inter-company-system, the fields of vocational training and education and – last but not least – industrial relations.
This project analyses the changing conditions for Ricardos` law today. This includes an outline of the emergence and performance of the economic culture. The marketplace of world society is dominated by companies from North America, Europe and East Asia. But what is the role of their respective cultural background in this competitive field? The increasing dynamics of world markets make it all the more urgent to understand the cultural background via scientific research. Obviously cultural differences are what drive economic competition within world society and ensure its future. The project focuses on the economic cultures of the four most competitive trading nations (USA, China, Japan, Germany) contrasting their comparative institutional advantages with the economic culture of less successful economic regions on the world market.
The project started 2010 with a Bielefeld conference on “Economic Culture – Cultures of World Economy” which was funded by the Institute for Global Society Studies. The results of the conference have been published in a special issue of the German journal for historical social science “Geschichte und Gesellschaft”: W. Abelshauser / David A. Gilgen / A. Leutzsch (Hg.), Kulturen der Weltwirtschaft, Vandenhoeck&Ruprecht 2012. The aim of the project is a monograph on the subject.