The project analyzes the economic importance of family enterprises in Germany. It uses the firm data by the “Verband der Vereine Creditreform” which almost completely represent the whole population of German firms. The project is divided into two modules. Module 1 is concerned with the quantitative assessment of the economic importance of family enterprises in total. Module 2 focuses on the economic importance of the500 largest family enterprises in Germany and compares them to large firms listed in the DAX which are not owned by families.
Modul 1 conducts a differentiated definition of family enterprises. A firm is said to be “family-controlled” if a maximum of three natural persons hold a minimum of 50% of the shares. Following this definition, 93% of all firms based in Germany are family enterprises. In most of these firms the owners are also involved in the management of the firm: 91% of the firms fulfill the stricter definition of “owner-managed family enterprises” which requires the exertion of management functions in addition to capital majority. Family-controlled firms have a share of 54% in total employment (owner-managed family enterprises: 50%) and a share of 49% (owner-managed family enterprises: 40%) in total sales in Germany.
Comparing the 500 largest family enterprises with the DAX-firms (without the family enterprises Beiersdorf, Henkel, Metro und Merck) in Modul 2 shows that family enterprises exhibit a significantly better employment trend between 2006 and 2008. The domestic employment in the top 500 family enterprises rose by 4% to 2.2 millions while DAX-firms denoted a decline of 0.5% to 1.4 million domestic employees. Sales growth was slightly lower for family enterprises than for DAX-firms in 2006 and 2007. However, the sales collapse in the first ‘year of crisis’ 2008 was significantly smaller for the family enterprises than for the DAX-firms.