HANOVER, Germany—Continental A.G. is committing more than $1.1 million over five years to modernize and expand its historical archives in preparation for the company's sesquicentennial celebration in 2021.
The project, which includes digitizing scores of documents and materials, will be directed by Paul Erker, a business history professor at Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich. Conti has tasked him with conducting a “relevant historical study” of the company, which was founded in 1871 in Hanover.
“History teaches us that only companies with deeply rooted origins and values can confidently shape their future successfully,” Conti Chairman Elmar Degenhart said.
“Our company has been growing at a faster rate than the market for many years. It unites over 100 different corporate cultures of companies that in past decades have come together under the Continental roof in a number of different ways.
“Looking back over our company history and reanimating it in the present day is intended to strengthen both our confidence and our sense of responsibility.”
The key findings of Erker's work will be published in 2021 to coincide with the company's 150-year anniversary. By digitizing documents and materials, it is hoped the archives will be made more accessible for research and scholarship, Conti said.
Erker tackled Conti's 20 years ago in a research paper entitled: Competition and Growth: A Contemporary History of Continental A.G. ("Wachsen im Wettbewerb. Eine Zeitgeschichte der Continental AG").
Erker said his work this time “will combine key documents with interviews of contemporary witnesses and topical analyses.” This will include an in-depth study into the history of Continental and its subsidiaries during the National Socialist (Nazi) era.
“It is therefore not another linear success story that we see so often. It places greater emphasis on examining the significance of detours, knockbacks, crises and ruptures as starting points for the company's future path to success. With this concept, Continental is certainly breaking innovative ground in the presentation of its company history.”
Conti said it is guaranteeing Erker academic independence and unrestricted access to its files so as to make Continental's development “new, interesting, and vivid for both professionals and a wider audience, too.”