An Engine of Modern Economic Development
Up to now little attention has been paid to business groups as a form of enterprise in Germany. It is consequently surprising that during the twentieth century perhaps a quarter of the largest 100 firms qualified as diversified unrelated business groups. These were to be found mainly in three sectors: 1) up to the First World War, large universal banks acted as centers of business groups; only Deutsche Bank went on until the millennium; 2) during the interwar period state-owned enterprises were merged into several large business groups which spun off their parts during the 1990s; 3) many family-owned business groups stayed resilient with their choice of organization. Pyramids were rare within the 100 largest firms.
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