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Analysis of Business Environment in Germany

Table of Contents

Introduction

Chapter 2: The Cultural Environments Facing Business 

Chapter 3: The Political and Legal Environments Facing Business 

Chapter 4: The Economic Environments Facing Businesses 

Chapter 7: Cross National Cooperation and Agreements

Chapter 11: Globalization & Society 

Chapter 17: Marketing Globally

Conclusion

Appendices

References

Introduction

Globalization is defined as a political, technological, cultural, and economic world-wide movement. Its purpose is to enhance the world’s countries’ possibilities to grow at a faster and higher rate by allowing free movement of capital, services, and products across different nations (Business Dictionary, n.d.). Germany is only one of the many examples it is possible to cite, but Germany’s results and achievements are above average and at times surprising.

According to Tost (2015), Germany has gained an incredible advantage from globalization. Culture-wise, Germans have a monochronic nation focused on accomplishments, attention to details, responsibilities, and competition. The cultural traits combined with an outstanding ability to generate and control profitable businesses, made Germany the undisputed leader in Europe from both a political and economical point of view. These aspects also led Germany to be one of the most influential, respected, and powerful countries in the world.

A free economy, a valuable political system, and a favourable legal system are the bedrock of a powerful nation. Germany utilizes all of these features as well as the ability to co-operate with other countries and sign trade and political agreements with them. Our purpose is to describe through a detailed analysis some of the aspects that led Germany to be a world leader in today’s world despite the difficulties and challenges which this country has faces all over its history.

Chapter 2: The Cultural Environments Facing Business

Today’s German culture is the result of the development of several factors over the centuries. Taking into consideration only the 19th century, for example, three major events have strongly influenced this country and its culture: World War I and II, and the Cold War. In particular, World War II and the Cold War had a significant impact on Germany. The first one was strongly characterized by the development of a Nazi culture (an example of culture imperialism), which has dissolved over the course of the 20th century. The second one deeply influenced the entire country and German culture because of the construction of the Berlin Wall, which divided Germany in two parts as well as the rest of the world (Davis, 2015).

Although all these wars and division took a toll on Germany during the 20th century, today Germany is considered one of the most influencing countries in Europe and the rest of the world (Zimmermann, 2015).

Values: A study conducted by Salford Business School (n.d.) found that Germans prioritize time, privacy, and structure. Hard work and time management are strictly related, which is why best results are obtained when time is scrupulously and carefully managed. Life and work activities are considered more manageable when they are structured in well-regulated units and planned in advance. It is not surprise that Germans are renowned for their achievements in many fields of science, technology, and arts. Although Germans are often stereotyped as cold, this belief does not seem to reflect reality. Germans have a strong sense of community.

Language: According to Zimmermann (2015), German is the official language of Germany, which is spoken by more than 95% of the population. Because of its historical and political background and to the fact that Germany shares its borders with several countries, languages such as Serbian, Danish, Romani, Kurdish, and Turkish are also spoken.

Religion: From 65 to 70% of Germans declare themselves Christians, 3.7% Muslims, and 28.3% report to be related to a religion other than Christianity or Islam (CBSNews, 2012). It is also important to underline the fact that a fundamental branch of today’s Christianity, known as Protestantism, emerged in Germany in the 16th century. Its founder was Martin Luther (Biography.com, n.d.).

Relationship Preferences:

– Power Distance: According to a series of studies conducted by Geert Hofstede (n.d.) and Picture 1 in the Appendix, Germany’s power distance score is 35. This result is due to the fact that German culture is highly focused on a decentralized approach and a strong middle class. Collaboration and direct communication are preferred to a little superior-subordinates interaction, and leadership is more easily welcomed when better skills and higher capability are shown by superiors.

– Individualism Vs Collectivism: Germany is categorized as an Individualist nation. In terms of work motivation, the German society strongly relies on a self-actualization model, which is characterized by honesty, direct communication, responsibility, loyalty, and sense of duty (Hofstede, n.d.).

Work Motivation:

– Masculinity-Femininity Index: Hofstede (n.d.) states that a high score in this index indicates a masculine society, and usually, this type of society is highly focused on accomplishments and competition. Since Germany has a score of 66, it belongs to this group. Masculine societies prefer “live in order to work”, and Germany is a perfect example of this category. Also, social status is shown off by exposing material wealth.

Risk Taking Behaviour:

– Uncertainty Avoidance: Germany has a score of 65 in terms of Uncertainty Avoidance. Germans, indeed, strongly focus on details and rely on expertise in order to obtain the highest level of certainty, which can also be achieved by having a clear idea of the overall context which is being faced (Hofstede, n.d.).

– Future Orientation: Germany is a long term oriented and pragmatic country (score: 83). For this reason, determination in achieving results and capability to adapt to new conditions are considered fundamental (Hofstede, n.d.).

– Fatalism: Germany has a score of 40 in terms of fatalism. A low score on this index is typical of restrained societies as well as pessimistic and cynical cultures (Hofstede, n.d.).

Others: Germany is defined as a monochronic culture for several reasons. For example, German population prefer dealing with one aspect at time, deeply respect deadlines and schedules, and show a great respect for their job and privacy (Citeman, 2008). According to IOR (n.d.), Germany is also considered a low context culture.

Chapter 3: The Political and Legal Environments Facing Business

Political system of Germany: Germany is a federal democratic republic consisted of sixteen states. The power is therefore distributed between the federal and state government. The head of the government is the Chancellor who is chosen by the Federal Assembly for four years. Whereas, the head of the state is the President who is chosen by the Federal Convention for five years.

Being a democratic country, the power is divided between the executive, the legislation, and the judiciary as per the constitution. However, as per freedom house Germany is ranked as a free country on the standard of freedom with the highest political freedom as civil liberties.

Political risks in Germany: Being the fourth largest economy in the world (Picture 4 in the Appendix) and a member of the Eurozone, Germany is an important country in the European Union. It is also one of the original eleven countries which adopted the euro as currency in 1999. According to the AMB country risk report of 2016, Germany is ranked a CRT-1 country. The Country Risk Tier (CRT) reflects A.M. Best’s assessment of three categories of risk i.e. economic, financial system and political risk. CRT-1 indicated that Germany has a very low economic, political and financial system risk.

Europe has recently faced the “Brexit” blow. Although it affected many of the European countries, Germany is still expected to grow but with a lower rate. The “Brexit” triggered financial instability and immigration issues in many of these countries. Therefore, in March 2016 regional elections, increase in support for anti-immigration alternative has been noticed in Germany.

The legal environment: The law of the federal republic of Germany applied to all aspects of life. German legal system is driven by the constitutional law but is also influenced by international law and the law of the European Union. In terms of legal stability foreign investors rank Germany second. Such legal stability attracts many foreign businesses to the country.

The legal codes are divided into two main categories. The first one is General Codes which includes penal code, civil code, and civil procedure code. The second one is Specific Codes which include commercial codes. Commercial disputes that involve Germany are very rare. However, in case of any commercial dispute, it is resolved by the Court of Attribution in line with the German Attribution Act.

Regulatory Environment: Although the business environment of Germany is based on competition, it is still essential to protect it against unfair practices. The Federal Cartel Office (Bundeskartellamt) holds the responsibility to control unfair market behaviors. Furthermore, businesses are regulated in Germany as per the business and market requirements. Therefore, it is prohibited to promote misleading advertisements as well as other prohibited marketing activities. Moreover, Act Against Unfair Competition monitors and safeguards the fair competition in the market.

Legal issues faced by international firms: Nearly 4% of global direct investments are incurred by Germany. Only a few countries across the globe are such tightly connected to the world economy. However, doing business in Germany can still be a challenge for those that are unfamiliar with the taxation and legal structures. Therefore, help from the locals is at times essential. Some of the issues faced by businesses are as follow:

– Starting a businessDespite the global economic standing of Germany, the World Bank and International Finance Corporation (IFC) rank it 106th in the world for ease of starting a business. The businesses are required to register and coordinate with the local chamber of commerce and industry, the local office of business and standard, and the required professional association.

– Property RegistrationThe property registration in Germany is performed by the bureaucracy. Companies must go through a length process of obtaining abstract from the land registry, notarizing the transfer agreement, and paying transfer taxed before being allowed to get properties officially registered.

– Paying TaxesThe fiscal system of Germany is intense and difficult to coordinate with. Businesses must make nine different tax payments during a year which takes about 207 hours of its time. Altogether there are 14 different taxes to be paid by businesses operating in Germany. Therefore, understanding the German taxation system usually requires business to coordinate locally.

Chapter 4: The Economic Environments Facing Businesses

Economic Freedom: According to Atkinson (1983), economic freedom is mainly defined as a combination of economic actors which explain how national income is accumulated, distributed, under which institutional structure it is accumulated, and the kind of economic policy at work that time.

Germany has been one of the world’s strongest economies when it comes to economic freedom, despite challenging environment prevailing in the European Union. Business as well as investment freedom remains strong in the country. Entrepreneurial growths and competitiveness are well supported by strong property and business environment. Overall the economic freedom index of Germany is recorded to be 73.8 in 2017.

The property rights score is 82.9, which means that the German law fully protects the rights of local as well as foreign citizens. Even the tax burden is considerably high and recorded as 61.9 in Germany, yet the government spending in the country has going up considerably as well and has been given a score of 41.4.

German economy has considerable business and monetary freedom, as shown by the scores (being 86.6 and 85.9 respectively); however, labor freedom is 42.8, which means that the labor is mostly repressed.

Standard of Living: Skantze (1992) described standard of living as the dimension of how well the basic needs of life are met. Germany outperforms a lot of countries when it comes to standard of living and better life indices.

The average household net-adjusted disposable income per capita is $31,925 a year, which exceeds that of United States. However, the income equality remains high as top 20% earn 4 times more than the bottom 20%.

Employment remains substantially high in the country, with 74% of the people aged in between 15-64 having a paid job. Similarly, in terms of gender, 78% of the men have paid work and 66% of the women have paid work. The employment remains high than the OCED average, which is 66%.

Germany remains the hub of education with 87% of the people aged in 25-64 having completed upper secondary education. Even in this case the percentage is greater than the OCED’ average, which is recorded to be 76%. Similarly, the average reading literacy score for an international student is 515, while OCED’s average is 497.

Germany also has done exceptionally well in terms of life expectancy, which is recorded to be 81 years on average (1 year greater than that of OCED). 91% of the population is satisfied with the quality of water; however, pollution in the air is recorded to be 15.4 micrograms per cubic meter which is higher than OCED average of 14.05 micrograms per cubic meter.

Type of economic system: Germans follow a free market economic system but they call it as “social market economy”. This means that the system has both a material and a social dimension. Thus, the only role of state is to protect the environment from monopolistic or oligopolistic competition. However, the term “social” is stressed a lot in the system because it signifies that the German economy not only benefits the wealthy but also cares for the workers and others who might not prove able to cope with the strenuous competitive demands of a market economy.

Economic indicators: Germans have overall seen economic growth in the country taking place. Germany’s GDP was recorded to be $3.356 trillion in 2015, which was considerably higher than that of countries such as United Kingdom, Russia, and France.

Population was recorded to be 81.41 million in 2015, and it has not significantly changed over the years. At the end of 2016, the unemployment rate was estimated to be 3.9%, which was considerably lower than countries such as United States, United Kingdom, France, and Italy. Inflation, on the other hand, has been increasing steadily (by 0.09% in 2016).

Overall, the economy of Germany is exceptionally strong. As previously stated, Germany holds the keys of the European Union, and Germany’s outstanding results are benefiting Europe as a whole. Germany is effectively planning the European projects in order to make the German exports more competitive, and in the near future these projects will immensely benefit the country.

 

Chapter 7: Cross National Cooperation and Agreements

Germany is the most populated country as well as the largest and strongest economy within the European Union. Germany’s top ten exports account for almost 72% of the total exports of the country. The leading exported products are German vehicles, which accounted for almost 18.1% of total exports in 2016. One of the reasons of this outstanding performance is that Germany has bilateral trade and investment agreements with 155 countries outside the European Union. The tariff elimination for industrial and agricultural agreement with South Korea, and the tariff reduction agreement with Singapore are just examples of these bilateral trade agreements.

Bilateral trade agreements with Canada: One of the most recent agreements signed by Canada and Germany is “Avoidance of Double Taxation on Income”. This agreement holds applicable for all residence of both the contracting parties. It states that if a German company or resident operates in Canada, it would only be subject to Canadian Taxes imposed by the Canadian Government. The same would be applied to a Canadian company in Germany. For this agreement to be in place, the company must have a management, a branch, an office, a factory or a workshop in the other country. This agreement, anyway, does not hold applicable for income from immovable property. For example, any income from agriculture or forestry businesses may be taxed in the other country. Either party could terminate the agreement but proper diplomatic channels have to be used to do so. Many Canadian firms hold assets worth $7.1 billion in Germany, where as some of the major German companies operating in Canada are Bayer, Siemans, Dailmer, Mannesmann, and Thyssen-Krupp.

Bilateral Trade Agreements with USA: USA are one of the closest and strongest allies of European Union and both forces are working together on multiple fronts. They have been working together to fight the Russian aggression in Ukraine which started in 2014, negotiating a solution to the political unrest in Syria, and also to crib the Iranian nuclear program (Borger, 2017). USA and Germany not only work side by side to maintain world peace and economic order. As being two of the world’s strongest economies, both USA and Germany aim and share a commitment to an open and expanding world economy.

In 2015 both countries reached massive heights when Germany became USA’s fourth largest supplier and USA became Germany’s leading export market. Both nations aim to achieve more by signing many mutual agreements. The USA-Germany trade relationship is majorly due to bilateral investment agreements. In 2015, they invested over $350 billion in total, out of which Germany invested $255 billion in USA, and USA invested $108 billion in Germany.

The strong relationship between these countries is also a major generator of employment. Currently German firms employ over 670,000 Americans in multiple German firms, and together companies in these two nations account for over one million jobs. Such economic prosperity has been achieved over the years thanks to the commitment of diplomatic officials in these two countries. Because of these achievements, USA and Germany have signed many other bilateral agreements. Some examples are the Treaty of Friendship, Commerce and Navigation Agreement that allows investors free movement of capital between Germany and United States, and Treaty on Avoidance of Double Taxation.

European Union and Germany’s Role in Europe: The European Union is one of the strongest, unique, and most reputed economic and political unions. Twenty-Eight European countries are part of it. The major purpose of this Union is to develop a single market, which could be utilized to its fullest.

Over the years, the European Union has evolved into an economical and political union, and caters to climate, environment, health, security, justice, and immigration issues. The European Union has also been successful in creating border free economy between the members. In this way people and capital can flow between European Union countries without any hurdles. Although the European Union accounts for many successes, anyway, still today many obstacles and challenges are mining many member countries.

Currently the European Union is ahead of the United States in terms of GDP. European Union’s GDP in 2015 was almost €14,600 billion out of which Germany’s share was almost €3,000 billion. Germany is one of the most important forces keeping the European Union and the Euro strong. For example, Germany has played a vital role in saving Greece’s economy, but this act has also been considered a selfish act to protect its own interests.

One of the biggest challenges faced by Germany is to define its role and position after the Great Britain has decided to exit the European Union. Having lost United Kingdom as a member of the Union has also meant losing a crucial partner within Europe as well as a fundamental partner on foreign policy and world trade. Another reason why Germany is concerned about “Brexit” is that other European countries are either weak or growing distant.

Chapter 11: Globalization & Society

Germans are masters in planning and thinking ahead of time. They usually know what they will be doing at a specific time. Germans probe all aspects of a project thoroughly and their thought process is very detailed. Mindful planning provides sense of security in people’s businesses and personal life. Moreover, Germans think that keeping a separation between people, places, and things is the assured way to lead a structured and ordered life (Business etiquette, n.d.).

Germans do not welcome sudden changes in business transactions, even if it can positively affect the outcome. Business is considered very serious, and Germans do not appreciate jokes in a business matter. Moreover, Germans prefer to maintain a demarcation line between work and personal lives. People also believe that there is a proper time and place for every activity (Guide to Germany-Etiquette, n.d.).

Corruption and Bribery: According to Transparency.org (n.d.), Germany is ranked 13th out of 176 according to the Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI)The German government has sought to reduce both domestic and foreign corruption.

The areas of concern for the German Government are the construction sector and public contracting, in conjunction with inappropriate political party influence. Strict anti-corruption laws apply to domestic economic activities which are discreetly enforced. Germany signed the 1998 OECD Anti-Bribery Convention in February 1999, by criminalizing bribery of foreign public officials by German citizens and firms abroad.

Germany has increased the punishment for bribery of German officials, for corrupt practices between companies, and for fixing the price by companies competing for public contracts. Furthermore, government officials are not allowed to accept gifts linked to their jobs. Some individual States are maintaining their own registers and pressure is increasing to reintroduce such legislation at a Federal level.

The German Chapter of Transparency International, “Transparency Deutschland” sees a national corruption register as one of its main goals in Germany, followed by Freedom of Information legislation at Federal and State level, and a quick ratification of the UN Anti-Corruption Convention placing both bribery of parliamentarians and bribery of public officials at the same level (Business etiquette, n.d.).

Sustainability: During the last decades Germany has been proactive in developing purposeful environmental policies, both nationally and internationally. The country’s strong environmental framework is the reason for making Germany a pioneer in environmental protection and sustainable development. It also gives a good example of how a cleaner low-carbon economy is in harmony with growth.

In 2002, Germany made sustainability a guiding principle for national policies by embracing its National Strategy for Sustainable Development. The Strategy is based on actual targets and sustainability indicators, which are assessed in regular progress reports. Germany also initiated the main cross-cutting initiatives on biodiversity, climate change, energy and resource efficiency (OECD, n.d.).

Kyoto Protocol: Germany signed the Kyoto Protocol between March 1998 and March 1999, along with 84 other countries. Germany achieved the emission targets for the 2008 to 2012 period under the Kyoto Protocol already in 2008.

Compared to 1990 in 2008 the greenhouse gas emissions decreased by 22.2% which equals 280 million tons. According to the Kyoto Protocol, Germany was responsible for lowering greenhouse gas emissions by 21% in the period from 2008 to 2012 compared to 1990 (Lang & Lang, 2010). Germany’s purpose is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) by 40% within 2020 and up to 95% in 2050, compared to 1990 levels (Appunn, 2017).

Ethical Dimensions of Labor Conditions: In Germany, either appointing or firing employees, setting working hours, require over time or even change lunch prices in a cafeteria require employers to gain the consent of worker-elected work councils.

Germany has the most highly standardized system of labor relations in the world. This has a considerable effect on the management style. German managers, indeed, use informal, cooperative, and participatory management approaches. The majority of German workers is affiliated with industry wide trade unions and it is very difficult to dismiss employees. Also, most promotions are filled internally (Carroll & Gannon, 1997).

Chapter 17: Marketing Globally

Germany is home to the numerous global players who provide products and services all over the world. The country’s companies continue to take over the world, creating major competitions to domestic businesses in other countries.

The major German organisations with a global footing include top brands such as Mercedes, BMW, SAP, Siemens, Volkswagen, Adidas, Deutsche Bank, and Allianz (Frankfurter Societäts-Medien GmbH, 2016). What makes these companies stand out in different parts of the world, varies from one to the other. However, what they all have in common is the pursuit of quality and precision invested in all the products and services each company provides. The use of highly skilled workforce and well-crafted strategies to infuse the company’s own principles of quality both home and abroad is common (The Economist, 2006). To demonstrate a few of the strategies used by some of the companies to enter global markets, we will be concentrating on Volkswagen and Allianz.

Volkswagen India – Segmentation by Country:

 Volkswagen is a car manufacturing company founded by Ferdinand Porsche in the 1930s. The owner first designed the cars so they were affordable and could be purchased by anyone. Years later, the company expanded its operations and now produces in 107 manufacturing plants in over 27 countries world-wide (Volkswagen, 2015).

India is one of the countries in which Volkswagen has manufacturing plants. There are three factories in India, and one of the most modern Volkswagen production facilities resides in the city of Pune. Volkswagen mainly targeted India because of the country’s size, rising middle class, and growing demand for passenger vehicles (Bhasin, 2016).

In the 2000s, in India “Small cars” with low prices were in high demand. Recognising this need, Volkswagen first introduced “Skoda”, one of its subsidiaries to manufacture cars in India. The subsidiary came up with a fuel efficient and low priced vehicle called “Octavia” that targeted the Indian premium segment. This product was successful because it was affordable but also conformed to the traditional low profile and conventional policies of India (Dhawan, 2002).

Once Volkswagen had learned about the Indian market, it proceeded to invest in manufacturing plants in other cities in India. In local manufacturing plants such as the one in Chakan, Volkswagen cars such as Beetle, Vento, and Polo were produced (Gangurde, 2016). These cars were then advertised through printed media, introducing smaller and higher quality vehicles. Currently, the company is using other advertising media, such as television, social media, and magazines to raise more awareness for its vehicles in India (Bhasin, 2016).

Allianz:

– Product MixAllianz is a German-based global financial service company with approximately 86 million customers in more than 70 countries. The company services range from property, casualty, and life and health insurance to asset management service. As of date, Allianz is one of the largest provider of both financial and insurance services in the world (Ebeling, 2017). Allianz’s goal is to gain and retain as many clients as possible, both domestically and globally. The product mix shown below is used by Allianz in most countries the company operates:

– Place and Services: Allianz conveniently positions branches in regions where it has potential customers, after conducting in-depth researches on the areas. These global channels operating under Allianz provide quality products and services through smart officials and direct contact, whereby full-time agents are available to assist clients (Bhasin, 2016).

– Pricing: Allianz follows its image and offers premium pricing policy for its services. The price is offered, after considering gender, occupation, driving experience, health, and even client’s claims history. This approach is meant to help develop specific services and products that are attractive to the company’s target customers (Bhasin, 2016).

– Promotion: Allianz uses a push and pull strategy, aimed at the targeted customers through TV commercial advertisements, and social media (i.e., Facebook). Additionally, Allianz uses sponsorship platforms to support its global brand. For example, the sponsorships include the Paralympic Movement, Golf at St Andrews Links, Formula 1TM, and football with FC Bayern München and FC Barcelona. The company uses these sponsorships to promote its corporate responsibility approach by endorsing road safety programs, inclusion, art-safety standards, and environmental factors (Allianz, 2014).

A company’s global strategy depends on the industry it operates in, as well as the mission, vision, and goals it has set. Volkswagen and Allianz were used in this case to show how the strategies might differ among industries. Germany has many more global companies and they all have their own way of attracting customers to ensure they remain competitive in the global markets.

Conclusion

In conclusion, according to Travel Germany (2017), Germany has the largest population of any European country, around 82 million. Berlin is Germany’s capital and it is also the largest German city with a population of 3.4 million. Today, life in Germany is subject to a great diversity of cultural influences. It can generally be described as modern and cosmopolitan.

Germany has been a democratic parliamentary state since 1949 and consists of 16 federal states. Moreover, Germany is a part of the following treaties: European Union, G8, G20, NATO, OECD, OSCE, and UN. From an economic point of view, the country is very strong, with a GDP per capita of €37,099, labor force of 43.7 million, and annual gross income of €47,377 (Business Insider, 2017).

In the future, the German economy is expected to hit new heights of employment, particularly because of the expansions of transportations into the Middle East and surrounding areas (Wearden, 2017). For this reasons, it is safe to say that the German power is likely to strengthen both in terms of political and economic influence.

Appendices

Picture 1: used in the description of Chapter 2: The Cultural Environments Facing Business. It refers to the description of Relationship Preferences, Work Motivation, and Risk Taking Behaviour.

Picture 2: Germany GDP

Picture 3: Germany GDP Annual Growth Rate

Picture 3: Germany GDP in detail

Picture 4: World Countries GDP

Picture 5: Germany Inflation Rate

Picture 6: Germany Employment Rate

Picture 7: German Employment in detail

Picture 7: G20 Countries’ Employment Rate

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