URBAN INTERACTION From London to Novgorod to Visby on the island of Gotland to Cologne The Düdesche Hanse or Hansa Teu tonica dominated trade in Northern Europe for some 500 years From Central and Western Europe salt fabrics and metal goods would travel eastward while coveted com modities such as fur or wood were shipped westward on the way back Hansa trade a highly profitable business for its merchants had effects on regions as far as Asia and Africa Thus the importance of this initially rather loose alliance kept growing Its home bases with Lübeck in Germany serving as the hub became increasingly rich and powerful in the confederation of cities forming the Hanseatic League of nearly 300 coastal and non coastal towns Thanks to Hansa trade merchants as members of the bourgeoisie for the first time found themselves on a par with princes and kings The Hanseatic aims resemble those of modern business Safe trade routes on land through rivers and chan nels and above all across the Baltic Sea were just one key to Hanseatic success In the 13th century for instance the Hansa cog evolved into one of the most efficient means of transportation at the time The importance of these wooden vessels was nearly the same as that of to day s container ships They would carry cargo weighing up to 200 metric tons 220 short tons and even small crews could safely navigate them in rough seas Advanced tech nology and modern logistics in a closely knit network of cities are extremely important Shared logistics end to end supply chains enhanced efficiency at the lowest possible cost and leading edge technologies the things that were important for the Hanseatic League are also high on the agenda of globally active companies today says Professor Tim Hosenfeldt who is responsible for cor porate technology strategy and innovation at Schaeffler These factors alone however cannot explain the success of the Hanseatic League Equally important are integri ty trust and reliability Hanseatic virtues put in a nut shell They were the cornerstones on which the Hanseatic League was able to grow and prosper Even the term Hon orable Merchant soon emerged during the Hansa period a guiding principle that in German speaking countries to day still stands for responsibility modesty and resulting long term business success After the Hanseatic League s demise in the wake of the Thirty Years War in the middle of the 17th century no other confederation of cities ever attained so much influence and power again Yet fundamental principles the Hansa ideas have lived on In the Hansa kontors trading posts for instance goods would be carefully inspected and provided with respective seals says Lübeck historian Rolf Hammel Kiesow a Hansa expert and honorary professor at Kiel University The Hanse atic League practically introduced quality inspections standardization and branded goods into business life which tremendously facilitated international trade These aspects immediately suggest a comparison with the European Union a cross border economic area with standardized rules and a currency of its own the euro in the EU and the Lübische mark in the Hanse atic League This enormously facilitates and promotes trade within the EU s borders and strengthens the EU in negotiations with other economic powers The WTO as a global modern day Hansa From a global perspective today the World Trade Organization WTO by coordinating the economic Many Hanseatic cities like Gdánsk shown here are still characterized by old kontor buildings The things that were important for the Hanseatic League are high on the agenda of globally active companies today as well Prof Tim Hosenfeldt Senior Vice President Technology Strategy Innovation at Schaeffler in motion 55

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