Foundations: What Robert Bosch did better than Alfried Krupp

Robert Bosch

When Robert Bosch blessed time in 1942, he left clear guidelines in his will to continue the company in his spirit. This has led – among other things – to a clear separation of charity and business: The Robert Bosch Foundation has transferred its voting rights to an”Industrietreuhand”, which is always headed by the last Bosch board member (currently Franz Fehrenbach, who is also the company’s supervisory board chairman). Certainly: This does not comply with modern corporate governance standards; a cooling off apparently was not yet on the radar in the middle of the last century.

With Gerhard Cromme this would not have happened

But the regulation has a major advantage: it ensures economic competence and experience at the head of Industrietreuhand, which comprises ten persons (including former BASF CEO Jürgen Hambrecht and Christof Bosch in addition to Fehrenbach). The Krupp Foundation is completely different: It is headed by Ursula Gather, Rector of the University, whose lack of experience in business had devastating consequences in the dispute with investors Cevian and Elliott. We suspect: Things would have been completely different with Gerhard Cromme, who had once been appointed head of the foundation. From today’s perspective, the fact that Berthold Beitz withdrew his confidence in him in 2013 and later left the election of his successor to the Board of Trustees of the Foundation must therefore be described as a mistake – just like the fact that Alfried Krupp did not set Bosch-style standards.