Although Mitbestimmung – codetermination: the legal right of workers to be represented at the highest levels of management – is foundational to the German social market economy, its merits are debated constantly.
Business (companies and their associations) believes that Mitbestimmung has been taken too far. The many different interests represented makes it too difficult to find consensus. It is an inefficient way to run profitable companies.
In October 2004 Germany’s two largest chambers of commerce (BDI and BDA) demanded reform of the Mitbestimmung. Their main argument was the pressures due to increasing internationalization of their companies. They referred to Mitbestimmung as an historical mistake.
There exists in Germany, however, a cultural and political consensus favoring Mitbestimmung. Germans believe that it provides for stability in companies. Employees identify themselves with them. Productivity is kept at high levels.
An historical mistake?