IA student, Ben Frehner, receives IROP Scholarship to Study German Companies
I went to Germany this summer to do a comparative study between the German company Storck and the German company Benteler. Storck makes candy products including Werthers Original, Benteler makes auto parts that are then sold to companies like Ford and Toyota. The study was designed to look at the employee benefits package that each company offered and how it impacted the corporate atmosphere within the company.
I was living in the city of Paderborn with three German graduate students in an apartment I found online. I spoke German 95% of the time with them and was totally immersed in the culture for the 9 weeks that I lived there. It was very interesting to experience a foreign culture for an extended period of time. I worked with Professor Martin Schneider at the University of Paderborn who helped me formulate the project. After studying the company's benefits packages, I had interviews with employees and management from both firms.
The results from the study showed that Storck, which offered top-of-the-line benefits, had a very tightly-knit family atmosphere at the workplace. Benteler, who by German standards offered the bare minimum in benefits, had a very strict hierarchy, with workers who viewed their jobs as a 9-5 time commitment and nothing else.
Personally, I had a great time. My roommates were great in helping me acclimate to the new culture and I enjoyed the country immensely. Academically, I was challenged by the new language but the concepts I was immersed in were just like what I have been studying here at UNH.