The Chemical Brothers: Competition and the Evolution of the Board Interlock Network in the German Chemical Industry, 1950–2015

Hubert Buch-Hansen*, Anton Grau Larsen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


Utilising a unique and original dataset on the board composition of the 35 largest German chemical producers over the 1950–2015 period, the article tracks the entire lifespan of the industry’s reconstituted board interlock network. Regarding the network as a mechanism for controlling competition among its members, we consider changes in its strength over time. We find that a close-knit network came into existence in the 1950s, culminating in the 1970s and 1980s, after which it began to weaken. We highlight the importance of various meeting places for top-level directors from the chemical industry, including bank boards, and moreover introduce a novel measure that makes it possible to consider the significance of past ties to the strength of the network. Situating the findings in a wider political-economic context, we suggest that in important respects Germany’s coordinated form of capitalism is likely to have been even more coordinated than has been recognised.
Original languageEnglish
JournalBusiness History
Number of pages24
Publication statusPublished - 12 May 2021

Bibliographical note

Epub ahead of print. Published Online: 12 May 2021.


  • Germany
  • Corporate networks
  • Chemical industry
  • Competition
  • Banks

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