Erich Gutenberg and the Theory of the Firm

  • Reinhard H. Schmidt
Conference paper


When Professor Gutenberg wrote his Grundlagen der Betriebswirtschaftslehre in the 1950s, his work was firmly rooted in the theory of the firm as it stood at the time. In the 1970s and 80s, this close relationship largely disappeared as a consequence of the profound changes which the microeconomic theory of the firm underwent under the influence of the new institutional economics. However, in the last few years, the pendulum has swung back. This is mainly due to the introduction of the new concept of complementarity into the theory of the firm.

The introduction of this concept not only shows that Erich Gutenberg’s view of the firm is still relevant. It also permits business economists to take an economic approach to issues such as internal organisation and strategy which in the past were largely discussed using non-economic concepts. Finally and perhaps most importantly, the concept of complementarity can be used to define a new role for “general management” - in German: Allgemeine Betriebswirtschaftslehre - as a field of academic research and teaching, and at the same time constitute its central element. If the role and content of Allgemeine Betriebswirtschaftslehre are seen in this light, general management can again become the core of business administration, as it was in Erich Gutenberg’s conception of the discipline.


Theory of the firm organisation corporate strategy complementarity 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin · Heidelberg 2000

Authors and Affiliations

  • Reinhard H. Schmidt
    • 1
  1. 1.Johann Wolfgang Goethe-Universität Frankfurt/MainFrankfurt/MainGermany

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