Definition "Deutscher Mittelstand"

The IfM Bonn defines Mittelstand enterprises by the unity of ownership and management.

In order to filter out Mittelstand companies from the entirety of all enterprises for statistical/empirical analyses, the definition of Mittelstand is operationalized as follows:

In a Mittelstand enterprise

  • up to two natural persons or their family members (directly or indirectly) hold at least 50% of the company shares and
  • these natural persons also belong to the management of the enterprise.

According to the definition of IfM Bonn, the terms Mittelstand, family enterprise and owner-managed enterprise are considered as synonyms.

There is a large overlap between Mittelstand enterprises / family enterprises and independent small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). Nonetheless, also large enterprises with more than 500 employees or an annual turnover exceeding 50 million € are classified as Mittelstand / family enterprises if they fulfil the above mentioned (qualitative) criteria. By contrast, small and medium-sized enterprises which are (dependent) constituents of an enterprise group do not meet the Mittelstand definition.