Technical cooperation in the Ruhr mining industry in the period up to 1933
The Bergbau-Verein as a technical and scientific industrial association
Industrial associations are often seen as instruments of power for the internal formulation and external achievement of the particular interests of their clients. However, they were and are more than that, which is also underlined by recent theoretical approaches. For example, from the standpoint of the corporatism approach, associations are to be seen in a more comprehensive sense as control instruments and intermediaries between the state, society and industry in a mutual and highly institutionalised process of balancing interests. They also have intra-regulating functions, for example in the collective regulation of working conditions by the parties to collective bargaining agreements. In the context of the much discussed "new institutional economy" and the transaction cost theory which is central to this concept, the associations have a foreground role as performers of entrepreneurial functions.
The technical functions of the Association for the Protection of Mining Interests in the Dortmund Mining Region - better known to most people as Bergbau-Verein - can be interpreted in this theoretical context. Following its foundation in 1858, the association initially focused on other issues. Then from the mid-1880s, it became more and more involved in mining engineering and scientific questions and extended its scope of action rapidly at the beginning of the twentieth century. In World War I and the post-war years, Bergbau-Verein had to concentrate on other problems before finally, in the 1920s, pushing ahead with the development and expansion of an organisational network, becoming the centre for mining engineering and scientific innovations in the Ruhr mining industry.