Photo credit: Staatliche Schlösser und Gärten Baden-Württemberg

Mannheim Historian Writes Best Seller in Economic History

Professor Hiram Kümper has written a book on the dream of the “honorable merchant” and the Germans and the Hanseatic League. In March 2021, the book with the German title “Der Traum vom Ehrbaren Kaufmann: die Deutschen und die Hanse” ranked 14th on the “Wirtschaftsbuch” list of best selling books in business and economics which is published by the German magazines Spiegel and Manager Magazin. The book has been published in November 2020 by Ullstein. Currently, the second edition is released.

A few years ago, the business world has rediscovered the concept of the “honorable merchant”. Chambers of industry and commerce, business consultants and politicians refer to the term. Since 2017, it has been one of the principles set forth in the “German Corporate Governance Codex”. “By referring to this principle, which is deeply rooted in history, the business world reacts to an increasing lack of trust and wants to revive these values. This is a good sign”, says Professor Kümper. However, Kümper also warns against “economic kitsch”. The problem will not be solved by referring to a list of general virtues without thinking about implementing and reviewing them. The Hanseatic League which solved trust and compliance issues by network-based institutions can still serve as an inspiration when thinking about global commerce, Kümper says.

In his book, Professor Kümper describes the story of a successful cooperation between Low-German merchants doing business all over Europe and their home towns. These are the members of the Hanseatic League who still serve as model representing the “honorable merchant”. In his book, the historian sheds light on these romanticized views but shows that there is still much to learn from the Hanseatic League. Kümper discusses the benefits of ant trading and network economics, the successful development of young talents in Hanseatic companies and the productive cooperation between merchants and political actors to lower transaction costs. In addition, readers learn about the connection between the trade of the Hanseatic merchants and China’s politics regarding the New Silk Road.

To the website of the publisher:

Prof. Hiram Kümper
In 2013, Prof. Hiram Kümer was appointed to the chair of History of the Late Middle Ages and the Early Modern Age at the Department of History of the University of Mannheim. Since 2019, he has been holding the Carl Theodor endowed professorship.