Abstract: More Than a Phenomenon of Economic Crisis? Impact, Practice, and Meaning of ''Workers' Control'' in the Glass Factory Süßmuth, West Germany

Christiane Mende


The medium-sized glass factory Süßmuth in the North Hessian town of Immenhausen was the first enterprise under full workers' control in the history of the Federal Republic of Germany. In 1970 it was taken over by its workers to avert the impending bankruptcy of the enterprise; the firm subsequently flourished until its sale in 1989. This paper examines to what extent the experiences of collective management and collective ownership changed the working practices in the Süßmuth enterprise: How did the concept of workers' control lead to a different perception of work and of doing business in general? How did it modify the power relations within the firm and what impact did the practice of self-management have on production and on the products?