What are the challenges now and in the future for the Mittelstand? When are political support measures for the Mittelstand meaningful and important – even if a regulatory approach is to be favoured in general, like in the spirit of Ludwig Erhard? The Institut für Mittelstandsforschung (IfM) Bonn has been providing answers to these questions for 65 years.
"Over the past 65 years, the interdisciplinary and practice-oriented research methods of our institute have led to an increase in public and political awareness of topics relevant for the Mittelstand, such as start-ups or succession behaviour. Our research has also contributed to the fact that the interests of the Mittelstand have been considered in many laws," reports Prof. Dr Friederike Welter, President of the IfM Bonn and Professor at the University of Siegen.
Michael Kellner, Parliamentary State Secretary at the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Climate Action and Mittelstand Commissioner of the Federal Government: "At 65, the IfM is still young enough to reposition itself thematically and to accompany the transformation of the Mittelstand into climate neutrality. The questions are relevant and exciting: What policy does the Mittelstand need to stay competitive under the challenges of a dual transformation and conditions of skilled professionals and workforce shortages? What contribution can the Mittelstand make to the transformation – how can the strong innovative power of the Mittelstand be optimally utilised for the path to climate neutrality? I look forward to the answers from the IfM."
Mona Neubaur, Deputy Premier and Minister for Economic Affairs, Industry, Climate Action and Energy of the State of North Rhine Westphalia: "For 65 years, the Institut für Mittelstandsforschung Bonn focuses on the central role of the Mittelstand for the German economy. The IfM Bonn will not be lacking in questions and tasks in the coming years: In times of overlapping crises, the climate-neutral and digital transformation is a great challenge for small and medium-sized enterprises. It also represents great entrepreneurial opportunities. The researchers at the institute will accompany these developments reliably, well-founded, and forward-looking. Hence, they will continue to be an important contact and impetus for politics and administration in the future."
Interdisciplinary cooperation at the IfM Bonn pays off
In the beginning, the research activities of the Institut für Mittelstandsforschung focused on the definition and classification of the Mittelstand, and the development of statistical data. Ludwig Erhard, the Federal Minister of Economics at that time, saw in the institute’s foundation "not a political, but an economic matter, to examine the Mittelstand question by a special institute". The reason was that the concept of the Mittelstand had no sociological foundation until then. In fact, the Mittelstand played an essential role in the economic reconstruction of the Federal Republic of Germany in the 1950s. At that time, however, there were many different views on what was meant by the commercial Mittelstand – and who counted on it.
"The intensive, interdisciplinary cooperation of the researchers at the IfM Bonn, still allows important topics for the Mittelstand to be anticipated in the future – in the spirit of the IfM Bonn's mission to research the situation, development, and problems of the Mittelstand and thus, contribute to the improvement of general framework conditions", explains Prof. Dr Friederike Welter.
The IfM researchers are currently investigating the economic consequences of the corona pandemic for the Mittelstand. In addition, they research the challenges and opportunities for the Mittelstand from the green and digital transformation. Another current research topic is the economic consequences of the war of aggression against Ukraine. The IfM also deals with the question of what contribution the Mittelstand makes to the German society.
The chronicle "65 Years IfM Bonn" (only in German) is available on the internetsite of Institut für Mittelstandsforschung Bonn (www.ifm-bonn.org).
65 years at the service of the Mittelstand – 65 years IfM Bonn
Copyright: IfM Bonn
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