Joe Kaeser: Struggler for the European Governance Culture

Joe Kaeser

You can make it easy for yourself and label Joe Kaeser as a “good person” who talks a lot but has little effect – for example, when the Siemens CEO criticizes the “pure shareholder value approach” and preaches an “inclusive capitalism”. But that would have been too short, because let’s not kid ourselves: We are in a competition of systems; Anglo-Saxon financial capitalism and Chinese state capitalism are endangering our governance culture. This can be seen, for example, when highly subsidized companies from China buy German companies or activist US investors force short-term returns – and weaken companies in the long term (see our assessment of the ThyssenKrupp case).

Why we value Kaeser’s mission consciousness

Supporters of the social market economy and the European governance culture should therefore welcome Kaeser’s sense of mission. Because we need managers who can convince their stakeholders and in particular the “normal” shareholders. Otherwise, activists will have an easier time of it – often to the long-term detriment of companies. And then it will be much more difficult to preserve the long-term benefits of the European model (first and foremost greater social cohesion and stability). We are therefore convinced that we need more managers like Joe Kaeser in the tougher competition between systems.