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For making research results accessible also fort he participating companies as well as the interested public, results on specific topics are processed and published in the serie Bulletins German Manufacturing Survey. The latest issue of this brochure focuses on environmental product innovators and their economic successes. All volumes of the Bulletins German Manufacturing Survey since can be found below, arranged according to the year of data collection:. Bulletins German Manufacturing Survey No. Verbreitung und Effekte von Innovationskooperationen bei nicht forschungsintensiven Betrieben im Verarbeitenden Gewerbe Mitteilungen aus der Produktionsinnovationserhebung Nr.

Before we can decide what the power of financial markets means for different categories of companies, we first need to clarify how it makes sense to talk about the power of those markets. Such structures only bestow power when parties bring them into play effectively against other parties in certain situations and, thus, influence the options for action of these parties. The power of the financial markets is not market power — which may sound paradoxical at first. It is also not due to a shortage of investment capital or because of a growing demand for investable resources.

On the contrary, the shift of power in favour of financial markets and financial-market players goes hand in hand with a dramatic increase in the worldwide supply of capital that is seeking investment objects and a comparatively moderate increase in the corresponding demand. Financialization results rather from a rearrangement of the hierarchy of reasons that are or can be given for economic activity. At the same time, it denotes a rearrangement in the order of economic players behind each of these reasons.

Or is it the credit of the reasons themselves that makes those people particularly influential who can exploit that credit more effectively than others? We aim to show that this is not a question of strict alternatives but of relative weightings. On this social field it is never eternally decided to what extent structural positions and cultural interpretations support or conflict with one another, or, in the latter case, which of the two retains the upper hand.

Anglo-Saxon institutional investors are the big players in these markets. Anglo-Saxon financial markets have been the point of reference for institutional restructuring and generalized models of corporate governance worldwide. This results, first, from the concentration of widespread shareholdings in listed companies by collective investors, such as pension and investment funds, insurance companies and so on in the US and UK Froud et al.

There was also the far-reaching lifting of investment restrictions which, until , stipulated that US pension funds were to invest in US government bonds and selected blue chips that, though not necessarily regarded as particularly profitable, were considered to be secure Montagne ; Lavigne While the domination of managers referred to by Berle and Means [] was largely due to the powerlessness of isolated small shareholders, this situation definitely no longer applies today.

It ignores the fact that ownership is only one of the connections between investors and enterprises, and that even ownership can signify very different things depending on whether it takes the form of shares or private equity. Institutional investors place their eggs in very different baskets. Accordingly, these investors ultimately stand behind share investments, capital market loans, private equity funds and risk 20 Change in SMEs capital investments — forms of investment that function in accordance to strongly contrasting principles and that relate differently to corporate action.

Likewise in the US, pension funds — traditionally significant investors — acted differently in the past than they do today. In addition, other fundamental questions relating to the hierarchy of reasons underlying economic practice come into play: ideas about rationality and legitimacy that are or may be taken as the basis of economic practice.

This second aspect of the readjustment of power relations referred to by the term financialization — that is, the restructuring of the hierarchy of reasons for economic practice — concerns the mutual influence of economic science, economic practice and political regulation. The focus here is on the advancement of microeconomicallyfounded financial science based on mathematical models — having led a shadowy academic existence for decades — to a leading economic discipline and the basis for evaluating managerial action.

The key impetus for this reweighting came not from academia but from the wider sociopolitical sphere. The main issues here are lawmaking and legal decisions in the field of trustee legislation — the basis of pension fund regulation in the Anglo-Saxon countries. This last change is the consequence of the transition from pension funds with guaranteed payments by the enterprise to ones that have fixed contributions, whereby it is the benefiting employees alone who bear the profit risk. In the financial sector, this new interpretation of trustee law corresponds to the establishment of modern portfolio theory, which no longer focuses its assessment on the yield perspectives of the respective individual investment objects, but rather on the relationship between yield prospects and risk in the context of a portfolio that is widely diversified in this respect.

With a view to economic practice in non-financial enterprises and their assessment, this gives rise to the demand for consistent evaluation criteria based on financial science by which real economic practice is guided, managed and judged. A central evaluation criterion here is whether the yield of an economic unit or measure is above an assumed rate of return on equity, that is, above a yield that would have been achievable with a risk-free investment typically government bonds. Only in this case is the unit or measure concerned regarded as value-creating or at least value-maintaining in the case of a break-even result.


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If not, according to this logic, it is corporate-value destroying, even if operations are making a profit Jensen and Meckling ; Jensen ; Ehrbar ; Stewart From a purely linguistic point of view, these suggest that there is a substantial concept of value that contains no trace of external demands. Decontextualizing this model semantically is an important step towards generalizing it beyond the original context of listed companies and shareholder requirements.

While the profitability claim based on these arguments may, in itself, be unambiguously and stringently substantiated, its practical consequences are vague.

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An evaluation model intended to provide conclusive and compelling evidence for minimum yield with reference to assumed costs of capital using simple mathematical formulae forms the hard core of value orientation and value-based management. This is claimed to provide for a stringent management and evaluation process covering fund administrators and investment managers, strategic and operative management, down to individual employees. However, there is little evidence for this. Apart from the plethora of more or less academically embellished propaganda in the form of case studies from the field of management consultancy cf.

Ittner and Larcker , there is little empirical evidence for the broad application of value-oriented management in any sense that does justice to this theory. While Total Shareholder Return TSR from dividends and share price appreciation between and rose by more than 20 per cent per annum, this was largely due to share price appreciation having nothing to do with whether enterprises created or destroyed corporate value in the sense of value-based management.

Low interest rates and a strong increase in capital-seeking investments drove up share prices without any special contribution by management. In contrast, the management-influenced parameters showed very little dynamism over the same period. Other parameters, The Power of Financial Markets 23 such as turnover and pre-tax profits, too, were extremely static. Some ten years after the arrival of the shareholder-value movement in Europe, the financial-market reorientation of the top companies in the Anglo-Saxon trailblazer economies still does not show any effect in terms of improved economic performance — the focus of financial management theories.

A fundamental dilemma underlies this striking discrepancy between claim and reality.


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In order to be effective in practice, the entitlement to returns based on stringent financial mathematics must be translated into practical, real economic strategy. If this does not occur, the indicators on their own are, at best, good for penalizing failure, but poor for providing non-financial enterprises with positive orientation. Here, the problem of strategically dealing with real uncertainty that Frank H. Knight saw as the key to entrepreneurial action arises with a new quality. No one can know for certain what practical measures will actually lead to an abstract profit target being reached in the future.

That applies in principle to every entrepreneurial action and all the more to acting according to the demands of the financial markets, which, in principle, do not provide any justification for making assumptions about their application to real economic strategies. The fact that corporate reality lags behind these demands results from the gap between real economic players, who act on the basis of given resources, specific competencies and certain product strategies, and the demands of the financial markets for which these conditions are only variables that, in principle, are all open to question.

Here too, it is not a problem of technical application, but a clash between different models, ideas or fictions about rationality and their representatives. We conclude that the new power granted by the financial markets is not primarily due to real economic undertakings being directly dependent on financial resources in a previously unknown manner. Just like any public opinion, the concerned financial markets must, likewise, be understood as a mixture of longand short-term behaviour indications of the players.

The principles of corporate governance, accounting standards and publicity regulations, for example as communicated and to some extent legally approved by the financial community, tend to be long-term orientations. For example, the submission of quarterly reports, which was taken over in Germany as an unshakeable principle of shareholder-value orientation in the early s, is meanwhile being questioned in the US.

This gives rise to the question as to what effect this financial-market public sphere has on enterprises. That is, by whom, or the situations in which the priorities are thus justified, are or can be made to override other aspects more or less effectively. We will proceed to discuss two general constellations that are of particular significance in the pertinent scholarly debate: listed companies under the influence of shareholder value; and the position of different companies on the global credit markets. What is the basis of the frequently cited dictate of shareholder value and how far-reaching is it?

Key points in this process are: the dilution of cross- and interconnections and a withdrawal of the banks from entrepreneurial responsibility; a transition from bank-oriented to investor-oriented accounting pursuant to US or international standards US GAAP and IFRS ; a shift from internal growth to portfolio management with a concentration on frequently changing core business areas; re-evaluation of previous synergies as crosssubsidies to be combated; and management of all business processes according to capital-market-oriented keys, such as EVA, EBITDA and others.

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The common denominator of these developments is that corporate structures are made more fluid, resulting in the normal state of companies being transitory rather than stable. Two, not mutually exclusive explanations are offered for this reorientation towards shareholder value: the need to take better into account the interests of shareholders as financial backers with a view to corporate financing; and the market for corporate control, where underperformance is penalized by hostile takeovers and the replacement of management staff.

When subjected to closer examination, neither of these explanations is very convincing. As regards the first point — the demands of corporate financing — it must be stated that listed companies have never financed their activities primarily via the stock market and that they now do so less than ever before. New issues by established companies constitute a marginal phenomenon compared with the opposite practice of share buy-back programmes. This is because, in the logic of value-oriented management, this practice represents the compelling alternative to investing in business that destroys corporate value, resulting in a return on investment below supposed capital costs.

A more complicated picture emerges with regard to the sanctioning power of the market for corporate control: the threat of a hostile takeover as punishment for inadequate management, which can be replaced with this process. This argument would be more convincing if the empirical reality of actual hostile takeovers did not point in a clearly different direction.

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In real life, it is mostly companies that the financial sphere regards as paradigms of good business management that are the objects of hostile takeovers. In Germany this has happened to Mannesmann, Aventis, and Schering. However, the firm remained unscathed by takeover attempts, even though the interventions of organized shareholders were consistently ignored.

And that is where the situation remained when the conglomerate had to take its strategic pharmaceuticals-sector blockbuster off the market in , causing its share value to plummet by a third as a result. Examples such as these certainly do not definitely disprove the thesis of the disciplinary impact of the market for corporate control. It can, The Power of Financial Markets 27 after all, be plausibly claimed that in the sense of anticipatory obedience, the thesis is commonly borne out far in advance.

As long as the yields are in order, the replacement of a management team on the grounds of insufficient attention to share price is unlikely. And where they are not in order, as is notoriously the case in the US automotive industry, the management is replaced, but internally. In this sense, the US automotive companies are protected by their underperformance, while firms such as Porsche and BMW would be taken over regardless of their high share price if the ownership structure did not prevent such a takeover. To what extent a hostile takeover functions as a penalty or as a reward for good management is then not least a question of the price and the amount of golden handshakes involved.

The two hostile takeovers that have taken place clearly suggest the reward variant. The only corporate indicator that has changed greatly and permanently as a result of financialization — the level of top management pay, which has increased drastically — may be regarded as a not entirely insignificant symptom here. Portraying 28 Change in SMEs oneself to other players and groups of players within and outside of the enterprise as a party merely driven by the financial markets is an instrument of power par excellence, regardless of whether it is deployed tactically or believed by oneself to be true.

This applies to an especially high degree when one understands financialization, as discussed above, not as the subjugation of the real economy by the financial markets, but as the rearrangement of aspects within the framework of what is, according to currently prevailing opinion, economically advantageous: as a change to the economics in which the economy is embedded. And amongst the large companies, we find hardly any to which these principles do not apply, at least in significant aspects.

Then again, though, ownership structure and openness to the capital market are not epiphenomenal; they do play a role in corporate governance. Enterprises that are not in spread holdings deviate from capital market imperatives in their strategic decisions more often than others, but there are equally significant instances of such deviating behaviour among other companies as well.