The first is its mittelstand, the small and medium-sized companies that
dominate the economy.
In particular, the prominence of larger family-owned
companies in Germany contrasts to other developed economies. In 2013
the 4,500 largest family-owned companies in Germany employed 7.2 m
people (around 1,600 employees per company) and generated total
revenue of EUR 1.75 tn (EUR 400 m per company on average) which is
around one-fifth of the revenue generated by all German companies.
Around one in six people in employment in Germany work for one of these
companies, many of which operate globally. According to the Centre for
European Economic Research around 1,500 mittelstand companies are
market leaders in a niche area – a hugely impressive figure. Many of them
are ‘hidden champions’ that are not widely known by the general public.