Wednesday, September 6, 2017

German efficiency myth

Germany has a reputation for running just like its kitschy clockwork, in an efficient manner. However,I find this to be quite inaccurate. German bureaucracy and business practices typically can be quite inefficient. Even the BBC thinks so; read their article here.

Take, for example, the A6 highway highway and bridge building project that spans above Kaiserslautern. When I arrived in the area at the beginning of 2013, the signs along the highway promised that the highway would be finished in 2016. At the end of 2016, the signs were changed to say 2018. I rarely see anyone working on the highway, and when they do, it's one or two lonely workers. This construction is very disruptive for people in the area and I doubt that it will be finished by 2018 as so much of it remains undone.

I think that many people think of German efficiency because of the automotive producers. Having visited the Mercedes plant, I did see much efficiency in use there. However, I don't see this as a German invention; I see it as coming from the Japanese auto producers, or at least resulting from their competition. Had the German and other international producers not adopted these methods and developed others, they wouldn't have been able to remain competitive.

In civil life, there seems to be no penalty for inefficiency so citizens and expats must resign themselves to long wait times and the possibility of slow, ineffective service both at government offices and in the business sphere.


Does this mean that I [metaphorically] shake my fist at Germany, or that I think that my country of birth is perfect? The answer to both questions is a very strong "no." However, I was surprised to experience the inefficiency for myself, as I too had heard that this is a very efficient place.

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