Career paths of the elite of former GDR combinates during the postsocialist transformation process

Steger, Thomas; Lang, Rainhart
August 2003
Journal of World Business;Aug2003, Vol. 38 Issue 3, p168
Academic Journal
The economic elite have always been of special interest both to researchers and practitioners. Particularly with regard to periods of great societal transformation, economic elites are regarded as the most important social group and the main driving forces of the change process. However, this group has itself been part of a fundamental transformation, with winners as well as losers. Examining nearly 300 cases of leading executives of large conglomerates in the former GDR, this paper reveals that this group was surprisingly successful in coping with the ongoing changes, despite their involvement in the former political system. The unique database and methodology with a process-based approach show particularly that as factors contributing to their survival the group was able to rely on social capital, knowledge and experience, high commitment, and specific professional skills. Furthermore, mentally drawing a definite line under the past was found to be crucial. The findings may be relevant to decision makers in similar transformation processes worldwide.


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