Goetz Werner

from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Götz Werner at re:publica 2010

Götz Wolfgang Werner ( February 5, 1944 in HeidelbergFebruary 8, 2022 in Stuttgart ) was a German entrepreneur, founder and member of the supervisory board of the company dm-drogerie markt and its managing director for 35 years. Werner was also the founder of the “Entrepreneurship the future” initiative for an unconditional basic income .


Werner was born as the fifth child of a third-generation family of druggists . His mother came from Prussia and had studied psychology. As a keen rower , he won the German Youth Champion title in double sculls in 1963 . Werner was married twice and had seven children. Werner's eldest son Christoph Werner (* 1972) has been CEO of dm since 2019, before that he worked for the pharmaceutical company GlaxoSmithKline in the USA.


After high school , Werner attended a commercial school in Constance , where he completed an apprenticeship as a druggist from 1961 to 1964. He then gained professional experience in various trading companies. Finally, in 1968, he joined his parents' drugstore in Heidelberg. In 1969 he moved to the Karlsruhe drugstore Idro of the Carl Roth company . After the reorganization of sales, he also suggested to the management the introduction of the discounter principle, but with competent customer advice. His ideas were rejected.

Werner then left his employer and became self-employed. In 1973 he founded his first drugstore in Karlsruhe. The name of the new company "dm" is the abbreviation for "Drogeriemarkt". After opening a second branch, however, he lacked the money for further expansion, so Günther Lehmann , then a partner in the Pfannkuch supermarket chain , stepped in. In return, he received 50 percent of the shares in the company. Due to the high entrepreneurial stress during the first years of the company, Werner was very close to total exhaustion.

In 1976 Werner expanded into the Austrian market. Werner's former rowing partner Günter Bauer ran dm-Österreich until his death. In 1978 there were already more than 100 branches in Germany. In the financial year 2010/2011 there were 2536 branches in eleven European countries. The company employs around 36,000 people who generated sales of more than 6 billion euros in 2010/11.

Werner withdrew from operational management in mid-May 2008 and switched to the supervisory board . He was succeeded by his then deputy , Erich Harsch , who had been working for dm for almost 27 years at the time.

As the successor to Reinhold Würth , Werner was appointed professor at the Institute for Entrepreneurship at the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (formerly Universität Karlsruhe (TH)) in 2003 and worked there until the end of his professorship on September 30, 2010. Since 2011 he has been a curator at the IFF Institute for Family Businesses in Stuttgart.

From 2006 to 2018 Werner was President of the EHI Retail Institute (EHI).

According to information from the press office of dm-drogerie markt, Werner was a member of the supervisory board of the Payback customer loyalty program until American Express took over Payback in 2011 . He was also a member of the supervisory board of the Witten/Herdecke student society and the GLS Bank (2003-2015).

corporate concept

At first, Werner went a conventional way by largely adopting the discounter principle (self-service, high discount rates due to bulk purchases) of the grocery trade for the drugstore. The reason for this was the abolition of fixed prices for drugstore products in 1973. This innovative form of operation became increasingly bureaucratic and cumbersome as the company expanded. In the early 1990s, Werner gradually changed the internal organizational structure. The branches were increasingly given more responsibility and self-control. Today, the local dm branches determine their product range, their duty rosters, sometimes the supervisors and even the salaries themselves. According to analysts, this flexibility for employees when making decisions is the reason for the competitively low prices for many products and for high levels of employee and customer satisfaction.

His special way of managing the company received nationwide attention. The application of an emphatically non-authoritarian leadership concept, the so-called dialogic leadership , is based on the basic values ​​of understanding and respect . In his company, Werner preferred dialogue to instructions. Werner took a rare path to promoting operational cooperation by insisting on "openness to new ideas". What is unusual about this is confirmed, among other things, by an occupational psychology study, according to which most mobbing victims are (or were) “open to new experiences”. In the beginning, the branch managers of dm found it very difficult to cope with this changeover.

Werner was a self-confessed anthroposophist and based his corporate philosophy on the principles of personality development, trust and creativity . That's why he didn't see any personnel costs in his employees, but rather "creative posts" with "employee income". He viewed premium and bonus systems as “permanent distrust” of his employees’ willingness to perform. Nevertheless, at the end of each term, a so-called “ tertial final payment” (in a variable amount) was paid to those employees whose branch met or exceeded the planned target.

A special feature was his training concept, which received several awards. All trainees (called "Lernlinge" by Werner) completed an eight-day theater project twice during their training. With the support of professionals, they should practice “team and communication skills, the ability to deal with conflicts, the ability to put themselves in other people’s shoes, to act in a targeted, situation-appropriate and flexible manner”. The aim was to familiarize them with a business model that sees itself as a " learning company " in order to be able to act flexibly and efficiently in the constantly changing market conditions. The passionate rower Werner illustrated this situation with a "permanent white water".

Political and social engagement

Since 2005, Werner has publicly campaigned for an unconditional basic income in Germany. The beginnings of his ideas stretched back to 1982, when the number of unemployed in the Federal Republic of Germany reached an all-time high. The financing of the basic income is based on the gradual abolition of income tax and the simultaneous increase in value added tax as a "consumption tax" to 100%. In November 2005 he founded the initiative “Enter the future”. Werner supported the Alliance for Basic Income (BGE) party, which was newly founded in 2016, and recommended their election.

In 2008, Werner was appointed as a guest professor in the economics department of the Alanus University for Art and Society and taught students in the bachelor’s degree courses “Business Administration – Rethinking Economics” and “Sustainable Economics”.

Werner sponsored cultural and social projects such as the Hermann Hesse Prize , a day center and shelter for street children in Alexandria , Egypt , and free music classes for children. On August 16, 2010, it was announced that Werner would leave his company shares to a charitable foundation. According to Werner's PR officer, however, the foundation does not do any public relations work. According to the PR officer, there are no publications about the projects supported by the foundation beyond the legal requirements.



In 2013, Manager Magazin estimated Werner's total assets at around 1.1 billion euros . This put Werner in 109th place among the 500 richest Germans .

See: List of the 500 richest Germans


  • Economy - the for each other-bars , inaugural lecture on May 11, 2004 in front of the faculty for computer science of the University Fridericiana to Karlsruhe (TH), Universitätsverlag, Karlsruhe 2004, ISBN 978-3-937300-35-1 .
  • Leadership for mature people. Subsidiarity and brands as challenges for modern leadership , Universitätsverlag, Karlsruhe 2006, ISBN 978-3-86644-009-8 .
  • One reason for the future: the basic income. Interviews and Reactions , Freies Geistleben, Stuttgart 2006, ISBN 3-7725-1789-7 .
  • income for all. The dm boss on the feasibility of the unconditional basic income , Kiepenheuer & Witsch, Cologne 2007, ISBN 978-3-462-03775-3 .
  • with André Presse (ed.): Basic income and consumption tax. Impulses for “Enter the future” , proceedings of the Karlsruhe Symposium Basic Income: Unconditional. Universitätsverlag, Karlsruhe 2007, ISBN 978-3-86644-109-5 .
  • with Adrienne Goehler : 1000 € for each. Freedom, equality, basic income. Econ, Berlin 2010, ISBN 978-3-430-20108-7 .
  • with André Presse: The civilized market economy and its enemies. On the unconditional basic income as an economic citizenship , In: M. Breuer, Ph. Mastronardi and B. Waxenberger (eds.): Market, people and freedom. Business ethics in debate , Haupt, Bern/Stuttgart/Vienna 2009, ISBN 978-3-258-07509-9 , pp. 193-211.
  • with Claudia Cornelson : What I never expected. The Autobiography , Berlin: Ullstein 2013, ISBN 978-3-430-20153-7 .
  • with Peter Dellbrügger (ed.): Why leadership? Dimensions of an Art , KIT Scientific Publishing, Karlsruhe 2013, ISBN 978-3-7315-0116-9 .
  • with Matthias Weik and Marc Friedrich : Otherwise there will be a bang!. Why we need to radically rethink business and politics , Eichborn Verlag, Frankfurt am Main 2017, ISBN 978-3-8479-0634-6 .



  • Götz Werner: Basic income for everyone. Documentary film, Germany, 2007, 43 min., director: Christoph Schlee, production: allmende film
  • FREE , documentary with Götz Werner, 2012, 90 min, director: Claus Strigel , production: Denkmal-Film
  • You can also be different – ​​entrepreneurs with ideas. Discussion, Germany, 2008, 45 min., with Götz Werner, Wolfgang Grupp , Norbert Kunz and Ditmar Staffelt , production: Phoenix , first broadcast: April 30, 2008, online video , announcement ( memento of May 1, 2008 in the Internet Archive )
  • basic income. Film essay , Switzerland, 2008, 100 minutes, written and directed by: Daniel Häni and Enno Schmidt, production: unternehmen mitte, film excerpts and online film , with Götz Werner, among others

web links

Commons : Götz Werner  - Collection of images, videos and audio files
Wikiquote: Götz Werner  – Quotations


  1. "Take charge of the future" initiative. Götz Werner's portal for an introduction to the unconditional basic income . Retrieved February 8, 2022 .
  2. a b Take on the future – unconditional basic income and consumption tax
  3. a b Simon Hage: "Against the Current" , Manager Magazin , March 10, 2006
  4. Entry "Werner, Götz W." In: Munzinger Online/People - International Biographical Archive. Munzinger-Archiv GmbH, accessed March 2, 2021 .
  5. Festspielhaus Baden-Baden : Portrait ( Memento of September 27, 2007 in the Internet Archive ), 2006
  6. Christopher Werner. In: MyGrandStory. November 25, 2021, retrieved February 6, 2022 (German).
  7. FOCUS Online: Multi-billionaire at 18: The youngest super rich in the world comes from Germany. Retrieved April 9, 2021 .
  8. Podcast with Christoph Werner, head of dm-drogerie markt. In: MyGrandStory. November 29, 2021, retrieved on January 6, 2022 (German, in the podcast approx. at 00:11:40 min)
  9. ire: "Turnover of DM climbs to over 6 billion euros" , Horizont.net, October 20, 2011
  10. Interfaculty Institute for Entrepreneurship
  11. IFF Institute for Family Businesses Stuttgart; board of trustees Retrieved October 18, 2013 .
  12. ↑ Passing the baton. EHI Retail Institute, March 9, 2018, retrieved February 4, 2020 .
  13. Thomas Stölzel: Takeover: What Payback brings for American Express. Retrieved February 4, 2020 .
  14. Georg Etscheit: Payback founder Rittweger: The hunter of the collectors . In: The Time . February 16, 2012, ISSN  0044-2070 ( zeit.de [accessed March 5, 2018]).
  15. Archived copy ( Memento of 29 May 2014 at the Internet Archive )
  16. Rouven Kasten: Three new members in the supervisory board of GLS Bank. In: blog.gls.de. GLS Bank , 16 June 2015, retrieved 13 December 2020 .
  17. Matthias Kaufmann: "The Waldorf Discounter (2)" , Manager Magazin , February 5, 2004
  18. Silke Gronwald: "Battle of the discounters" , Stern , 04/2005, January 27, 2005
  19. Reinhard K. Sprenger : "Honorary Fairness Award 2003 to Götz Werner" , October 6, 2003
  20. Ciao.de : "The best drugstores" ( Memento from September 27, 2007 in the Internet Archive ), 2007, (978 field reports)
  21. The concept of dialogic leadership ( Memento from June 14, 2011 in the Internet Archive ), mediation-und-unternehmenskultur.de
  22. Matthias zur Bonsen: Leading with Life. Releasing and using vitality in the company , Gabler, Wiesbaden 2009, ISBN 978-3834913531 , p. 228
  23. Birgit Will: "Anyone who thinks differently is thrown out. The creative and intelligent often become victims of bullying” , SZ , June 10, 2003
  24. Petra Ahne: The encourager. In: Berliner Zeitung . 10 March 2006, retrieved 18 June 2015 .
  25. Sönke Iwersen: »Boy, what are you doing there?« ( Memento of July 7, 2003 in the Internet Archive ) Götz Werner ran his drugstore chain with "unorthodox methods", Stuttgarter Zeitung , May 21, 2003, archived by Internet Archive
  26. dm founder Götz Werner is dead. Retrieved February 9, 2022 .
  27. Unemployment#Historical figures on unemployment in Germany
  28. Götz Werner: Prof. Götz Werner supports the Basic Income Alliance Book launch in the Urania Berlin , May 24, 2017. In: youtube.com , retrieved on June 6, 2017.
  29. Florian Kolf: dm founder supports "Bündnis Basic Income" In: Handelsblatt , No. 80 of April 25, 2017, page 53. On: www.buendnis-grundincome.de press review, retrieved on June 6, 2017.
  30. Education for children. Retrieved March 5, 2018 .
  31. ^ "Musicians of the Future - "Singing Kindergartens". Retrieved March 5, 2018 .
  32. afp: billionaire donates company shares to foundation. In: DerWest , 16 August 2010.
  33. Fairness Honorary Award 2003 to Götz Werner
  34. Bayreuther Exemplary Award. In: bayreuther Dialoge 2019. Retrieved 20 August 2019 (American English).
  35. Thorsten Winter: "Entrepreneur of the year 2008. Natural medicine beats organic lemonade" , FAZ , October 10, 2008
  36. Michael Machatschke, manager magazin: Hall of Fame: Götz Werner and Michael Otto admitted. Retrieved February 8, 2022 .
  37. Stuttgarter Zeitung, Stuttgart, Germany: Founder of drugstore chain dm: Götz Werner honored with Erich Fromm Prize . In: stuttgarter-zeitung.de . ( stuttgarter-zeitung.de [accessed March 5, 2018]).
  38. Mercator Professorship. Retrieved March 5, 2018 .
  39. Baden-Württemberg honors dm founder Prof. Götz W. Werner with Order of Merit. May 19, 2019, retrieved June 9, 2019 .
  40. "The 500 richest Germans", Manager Magazin special issue, October 2013, p. 64