Corporate culture

The End of the Executive

Jürgen Richter wants a change in corporate culture.
  • Why it matters

    Why it matters

    There is a risk that the shift in corporate culture may result in increasing mismanagement at German firms.

  • Facts


    • After leading Axel Springer and Bertelsmann, Jürgen Richter now teaches media subjects in Hamburg.
    • The former manager is a well-known critic of excessive profit making and financial market greed.
    • He says that rules requiring the public disclosure of executive salaries have led to spiralling pay.
  • Audio


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Jürgen Richter, a veteran of the German media scene who once led the publishing groups Axel Springer and Bertelsmann-Springer, is worried about a long-term decline in Germany’s corporate culture. He talked to Handelsblatt about the role executives play and his fears that they now focus more on building power than building credibility.

Handelsblatt: Mr. Richter, what is the state of German management culture? Hartmut Mehdorn, who recently pulled out of the Berlin Brandenburg Airport project, complained that there was no character at the executive level.

Mr. Richter: It is a fact that managers outside the mainstream no longer have a chance in companies. There is a spirit of adapting. Corporate culture chases all the others away. The culture of debate is dying in major companies. There are status meetings from morning ‘til night, but nobody really listens anymore. Then, the minutes are sent to a huge mailing list.

The public is demanding managers who get involved and are credible.

But that’s not going to happen. There is a lack of credibility and a lack of responsibility. The desire to avoid unpleasant attention and swim with the crowd is widespread. It’s as if it were branded into their minds. The only important thing is to retain power.

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