Eugen Schmalenbach

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Johann Wilhelm Eugen Schmalenbach (born August 20, 1873 in Halver-Schmalenbach , † February 20, 1955 in Cologne ) was a German economist . He is the brother of the philosopher Herman Schmalenbach . He is considered to be one of the founders of business administration as an academic subject.


Eugen Schmalenbach was born in 1873 as the son of the small hardware manufacturer Friedrich Schmalenbach (* 1847, † April 7, 1906) and his wife Emma (née Halverscheid). Shortly after the birth, the family moved to Breckerfeld . But the next move took place as early as 1882, this time to Elberfeld (now part of Wuppertal ), where the father became a “penitentiary entrepreneur”, i.e. employed prisoners. Due to financial difficulties, Schmalenbach had to break off attending the local high school in 1890 .

Before he did an internship in a mechanical engineering company, he spent a short time at the Royal College for the Steel and Small Iron Industry in Remscheid . In 1891 he began a commercial apprenticeship in Velbert and joined his father's business in 1894. Just three years later, he took over the management of the company.

In 1898, against his father's will, he came to study at the newly founded Leipzig Commercial College and was one of the first students to enroll in commercial technology. In 1899, the student submitted a paper on the then completely new type of contribution margin calculation . In 1900 he graduated from there with a grade of 1.0 and immediately went on to study economics with Karl Bücher , where he was then assistant.

Schmalenbach married Marianne Sachs in 1901. The marriage resulted in two children, daughter Marianne (1902) and son Fritz (1909–1984).

From 1903 he was a lecturer at the Cologne Commercial College , in 1903 Schmalenbach completed his habilitation there without a previous doctorate with a thesis that could no longer be found: "The accounting-technical representation of operational management", from which his transfer pricing theory later emerged, and then taught as a private lecturer. In 1906 he became a professor at this university, and in 1919, when it was affiliated to the University of Cologne, he became a full professor and full professor in the Faculty of Economics and Social Sciences.

Since he was married to a Jew, he and his wife fell victim to the National Socialist spiral of repression. In 1933 he was forced to retire by applying for retirement. In the period that followed, the family was threatened by the shortage of food rations and the prohibition of the purchase of paper up to the threatened deportation to Theresienstadt . For a while, her status of "privileged mixed marriage" saved her from deportation. In the final phase of the Second World War , the family stayed in hiding with Schmalenbach's former assistant and friend Ludwig Feist and his wife Gertrud.

After the end of the war he was able to return to the university as a full professor and taught until 1947. Until 1950 he was still director of the seminar for business organization. In 1951 Schmalenbach retired . His successor at the university was Erich Gutenberg .


vocational college in Altena

Eugen Schmalenbach saw business administration as an art teaching oriented towards operational practice and thus stood in contrast to Wilhelm Rieger's view of viewing business administration as a pure science. This dispute is known as the second method controversy alongside the methodological dispute of political economy .

Schmalenbach laid the foundations for contribution margin accounting in his habilitation thesis from 1903 . In 1906 Schmalenbach founded the journal for commercial research , which still exists today - but under the changed name of Schmalenbach's journal for business research . In 1908 he outlined the necessity of introducing intra-group transfer prices . His essay Privatwirtschaftslehre Kunstwirtschaftslehre (1911) was supposed to provide practically usable knowledge in the form of business rules, trade practices or decision-making rules. The main idea here was above all the principle of using resources as sparingly as possible.

His focus was on accounting with balance sheet theory , cost accounting and chart of accounts . Schmalenbach was a representative of dynamic balance sheet theory , which he explained in his work of the same name (1919). The pretial steering was a key concept from his work.

On 23 July 1905, the Association of Holders of German Commercial University Diplomas, later the Association of German Graduated Businesspeople ( VDDK), today's Federal Association of German Economists and Business Economists (bdvb) , was founded in Cologne on the initiative of Eugen Schmalenbach from the Association of Academic Businesspeople. .

In 1928 he gave a lecture in Vienna at the conference of business economists at German universities with the thesis that German companies had special problems due to rising fixed costs , which would ultimately require state intervention. With this lecture "Business administration on the threshold of the new economic constitution" he triggered the "Schmalenbach controversy".

His 1931 essay, The Free Economy in Memory , was highly regarded as a far-sighted study in the field.

Honors and commemorations

While still alive, in 1951, the “Schmalenbach Society for the Promotion of Business Research and Practice” was established. V. ". This emerged from the Schmalenbach Association, which was founded on April 4, 1936 from the VDDK . This was in 1998 in the " Schmalenbach Society for Business Administration e. V. “renamed.

The vocational colleges in Halver and Altena, buildings of the Leipzig University of Applied Sciences , the Fernuniversität in Hagen and the Wiesbaden Business School as well as lecture halls in the University of Cologne and today's Cologne University of Technology (Südstadt campus, in the building where he worked) were named after Eugen Schmalenbach .


Web links


  1. ^ Walter Cordes: Eugen Schmalenbach. P. 4 & 7
  2. Stefanie Bilen: Father of the Auditors , in: Harvard Business Manager, October 2012, pp. 88–89.
  3. Rhenish History Portal: The couple Ludwig and Gertrud Feist hid Professor Eugen Schmalenbach and his Jewish wife Marianne. LVR, 2017, accessed on August 25, 2020 (German).
  4. ^ Schanz: Science programs in business administration. In: FX Bea, M. Schweitzer (Hrsg.): Allgemeine Betriebswirtschaftslehre. Volume 1: Basics. 10th edition. UTB, 2009, ISBN 978-3-8282-0487-4 , p. 100.
  5. ^ Eugen Schmalenbach: About transfer pricing. In: Zeitschrift für Handelswissenschaftliche Forschung , 1908/1909, p. 168.
  6. ^ W. Domschke, A. Scholl: Fundamentals of business administration. 3. Edition. Springer, 2005, ISBN 3-540-25047-6 , p. 19.
  7. Business administration on the threshold of the new economic constitution. In: Journal for commercial research. 22, 1928, pp. 241-251.
  8. ^ Roman Köster: The Schmalenbach controversy during the world economic crisis. In: Yearbook for Economic History. (2009), 1, pp. 229-244.
  9. Eugen Schmalenbach: The free economy to the memory. West German publishing house, Cologne / Opladen 1949.