University of Mannheim: Mannheim historian writes economic-historical bestsellers

In March 2021, the Mannheim historian Prof. Dr. Hiram Kümper with his book “The Dream of the Honorable Merchant: the Germans and the Hanseatic League” was ranked 14th on the bestseller list “Business Book”, which was published jointly by SPIEGEL and MANAGER MAGAZIN. The book was published by Ullstein-Verlag in November 2020 and is currently in the second edition.

The term “honorable businessman” has been experiencing a renaissance in business circles for some time. Chambers of industry and commerce rely on him just as much as management consultancies and politics. In 2017 it was included as a model in the “German Corporate Governance Codex”. “With this strongly historically based model, the business world is reacting to a progressive loss of confidence and wants to usher in a renaissance of values. These are good signals, ”says Professor Kümper. But he also warns against “economic kitsch”. Anyone who is satisfied with invoking a number of general virtues without thinking about the implementation and review of such catalogs of virtues will not solve the problem. Precisely because of this, the Hanseatic League, which solved trust and compliance problems through network-based institutions,

In his book, Professor Kümper tells the story of a successful cooperation between Low German merchants who traded all over Europe and the cities from which they came. It is these Hanseatic people who are repeatedly used as a historical backdrop for the model of the “honorable businessman”. In the book, the historian looks behind such romanticizations, but also shows that one can learn a lot from the Hanseatic League. The book discusses the advantages of ant trading and network economy, the strengths of the young talent policy of Hanseatic companies and the productive merger of business people and politics to reduce transaction costs. Readers will also find out how Hanseatic trade is related to the Chinese policy of the New Silk Road.

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