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Germany’s Mittelstand: standstill or foundation of the Industrie 4.0 future?

The German economy owes much of its success to the country’s Mittelstand, a uniquely German term used to refer to Germany’s highly developed and export-oriented mid-sized business sector. Mittelstand is roughly translated into English as SME or Small and Medium Enterprise sector, but the Mittelstand is characterised by more than just the simple number of employees or the size of the annual turnover. Due to its ethos and importance, and focus on manufacturing, the Mittelstand has been the subject of considerable study and discussion, as well as concerns for its future when facing the challenges of technological change and international competition. Clearly it can’t afford to stand still if the German Wirtschaftswunder is to continue, so what is the Mittelstand and where is it going? Can small business and manufacturing survive in a world of globalised giants and the feverish flow of investor funds into speculative startups? Read more