hkp/// group Workforce & Compensation Insights

Part 1: Large and medium-sized German businesses: Internationalization and location of top executives

Globalization, connectivity, digitalization and mobile working: We live in a world that is moving ever faster and where borders between countries and regions merge fluidly – on an economic level at least. Companies describe themselves as global players. A typical German car, for example, is manufactured in a plant in Eastern Europe and the technology needed comes from Asia. But how international are German companies really? Where are their main sales markets, employees and top executives located – in Germany or elsewhere?

As part of the hkp/// group Strategic Compensation Management Survey 2021, the hkp// group has analyzed the degree of internationalization of large and medium-sized German companies. According to the current data, approx. 40% of jobs are still located in Germany on average. In most cases, a higher percentage of employees located abroad goes hand in hand with higher international sales. On average, about 30 % of sales in the over 70 analyzed companies are generated in the domestic market.

“Companies with their headquarters in Germany exhibit significantly varying degrees of internationalization in terms of the number of employees based abroad. Differences are largely due to industry-specific factors and diverging business models. Companies whose services are primarily provided in Germany, for example, still have an above-average proportion of employees in Germany. On the other hand, many manufacturing companies no longer maintain a large workforce in Germany," explains Verena Vandervelt, Senior Director at hkp/// group. 

Another interesting aspect arises when looking at the top executive/workforce ratio: where are companies being managed from? hkp//group analyses show that, for over half of the businesses concerned, the relative proportion of top executives based in Germany is significantly higher than the proportion of the total workforce present there, meaning that middle and lower management and other employee levels are located abroad to a significantly greater extent. 

“On average, 65% of the top executives in our survey operate out of Germany. Therefore, strategic control or central management responsibility in German companies continues to be predominantly based in Germany,” explains Sabrina Müsel, Senior Manager at hkp/// group.


The hkp/// group Workforce & Compensation Insights are based on evaluations within the framework of the hkp/// group Strategic Compensation Management Survey. This provides unique insights into compensation, workforce and organizational structures and the associated costs. The survey covers three areas that are essential for operational and strategic positioning and planning: Compensation, Performance and Organization. Learn more here.

Workforce & Compensation Insights published to date:


Author Verena Vandervelt

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