Sprungbrett für den US-Markt: Das Beispiel Sartorius und die Sonderwirtschaftszone Puerto Rico

Abstract: In the context of the internationalisation and globalisation of the economy, special economic zones are playing an increasingly important role. The economic-historical evaluation of these special economic zones is controversially discussed and fluctuates between a «neo-colonialist exploitation of the Global South» based on low wages and poor working conditions as well as the exploitation of tax havens on the one hand and the emphasis on economic development potentials in these countries on the other. Using the non-representative corporate history case study of the medical technology manufacturer Sartorius, the aim is to ask, based on the motives, expectations and decision-making processes of a company in a specific economic-historical situation between the mid-1970s and mid-1980s, what significance the special economic zone of Puerto Rico had for corporate strategy in this phase. It will be shown that the corporate development and growth of Sartorius at the Goettingen location reached its limits during this period and that alternative investment opportunities were sought, which were found primarily in the world’s largest market for its products: the US market. High customs duties and transport costs ultimately led to considerations of direct investment on the American continent, whereby the investment incentives in the US special economic zone of Puerto Rico, supported by government subsidy programmes of the Federal Republic, offered considerably more advantages than on the mainland. In the case of Sartorius, with regard to the Puerto Rico Special Economic Zone, it is less about the exploitation of «neocolonial exploitation mechanisms» in a region of the Global South than about the use of Puerto Rican as well as Federal Republic investment incentives, which also offered development potential for Puerto Rico itself.