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Codetermination (mitbestimmung) is a unique West German industrial arrangement, planned largely by Great Britain during the Occupation, under which labor shares equally with management in the great steel, iron, and coal-producing corporations which were set into motion after the war. Codetermination is analyzed by the author as a kind of constitutionalism at the level of the industrial corporation, set against a background of political and philosophical issues which have played a major part in postwar German politics.
The book is based on material collected in scores of interviews with workers and managers, by attendance at works council and board meetings, visits to coal mines and factory plants, conversations with politicians, businessmen, union leaders, and workers. Describing the context of West German politics and the special postwar conditions under which the plan started, Herbert Spiro analyzes the degree of codetermination which prevails in the steel, iron, and coal-producing industries, as contrasted with the form of codetermination extended to public services by the 1955 law, and then describes in detail four case studies of steel plants and mining corporations. He attempts to evaluate the economic, sociological, and political effects of codetermination, so far as can be judged after a decade of experience.