Global networks, co-operation and value production in the German Mittelstand

Based on theoretical analyses and additional in-depth expert interviews, the present study investigates the challenges and opportunities faced by Mittelstand companies when participating in (global) value chains. In value chains with strong competitive pressures, stock-exchange-listed lead-companies often exert high cost-reduction and innovation pressures on their suppliers and unilaterally dictate their terms and conditions. Mittelstand lead companies, by contrast, place more importance on fair dialogue and balance of interests. In order to reduce dependencies and power asymmetries, suppliers can follow various upgrading strategies, among others a continuous innovation orientation and an increased production of modular designed products. In several supplier industries, concentration tendencies can be observed which are caused a.o. by a growing pressure on suppliers to internationalize.

Holz, M.; Nielen, S.; Paschke, M.; Schröder, C.; Wolter, H.-J. (2016): Globale Vernetzung, Kooperation und Wertschöpfung im Mittelstand, IfM Bonn: IfM-Materialien Nr. 252, Bonn.

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