Technology and History

You’ve been selected to advise the director of the new Museum of German Industry in Stuttgart, generously financed by large German corporations. 

Although you were trained as a mechanical engineer at the Universität Aachen, and have over twenty years of experience in product development, you also think as a historian. History was your favorite subject at your Gymnasium in Düsseldorf, and your mother was a professor for Modern German History at the Universität Köln (Cologne).

You were chosen to advise the director because your concept for the museum recommended a comparative approach. Over the years you’ve worked closely with U.S. companies and are very aware of how different the German and American product philosophies are. 

You have been asked to design the first major exhibit communicating the essentials of your culture’s fundamental product philosophy.

What are those essentials? What products exemplify them? What would the exhibit look like?


In your culture’s economy which products are known for being especially efficient? Which ones are inefficient? Why are they so?


Can a culture define the reliability of a person differently than the reliability of a product? If yes, how so? If not, what would be an example of a difference which applies to a product as well as to a person?


What products in your culture have to be durable in order to succeed in the market? From which products do users not expect all that much durability?


Think of products you may have purchased over the last few years. Explain to your colleague the role quality played in your decisions. When was quality very important, when not so important?