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Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences – Department History

Department of Economic and Social History – Prof. Dr. Jan-Otmar Hesse & Prof. Dr. Sebastian Teupe

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DFG research project: Competition regulation during the economic miracle (Teupe)

DFG-Project: Regulating Competition during the Economic Miracle. The Practice of Cartel Law in the Federal Republic of Germany before the Law against Restraints of Competition, 1948/49-1958 (start: April 2018)

The DFG-funded research project seeks to investigate the practice of cartel law at the time of the German "economic miracle" to evaluate the interconnection of legal rules and business practices in light of the caesura in competition law after the end of the Second World War. The entrepreneurial scope of German firms has been analyzed historically almost exclusively with regards to the German Law against Restraints of Competition (GWB) which was passed only in 1957. The practice of cartel law in post-war Germany that was determined by occupation law and the rulings of German courts has escaped attention. The project intends to close this research gap by pursuing three targets.

First, the project will provide an empirical contribution regarding the historical interconnection of law and economy. The caesura in competition law enforced by the Allies met resistance not only in public protests of German firms but in their everyday practices as well. These legal conflicts forced the courts to interpret the allied statutory provisions thereby determining their legal content. The project will clarify to what extent German firms succeeded in inducing the courts to take into account their arguments, practices, and traditions.

Second, the project opens the possibility of identifying progressive and conservative forces inside the German judiciary during the turn towards a liberal market economy. The courts' acceptance of competition policy principles was a fundamental condition for this turn and had become well established by the 1960s. It is an open question, however, whether some courts played a pioneering role in establishing the new cartel law already during the early 1950s. The project will answer the question if and if so which courts employed elements of the GWB before it became the official law.

Third, the project will offer a new explanatory approach for the much-debated question which factors determined the concrete form of the GWB. Historical research has focused on U.S. American influence, the role of economic ideas, and the pressure of German firms. The project extends the scope of possible explanations by taking up the question whether the GWB of 1957 actually marked a decisive break or whether it simply sanctioned a cartel law practice that had become well established by that time.

To answer the three questions the project will collect and systematize court decisions and sources from business archives to analyze their mutual interrelations.

  • Project Worker: Raphael Hennecke
  • Project Coordinator: Prof. Dr. Sebastian Teupe

Webmaster: Sevgi Feride Tunay

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