The Institute for Commerce & International Marketing at the Saarland University was established in 1996 as a result of the merger of the Institute for International Marketing, founded in 1991, and the Institute for Commerce (founded in 1957 by Professor Dr. Hans Buddeberg).

The main emphasis of the Institute's activities is on research with a high degree of practical relevance. Complex problem areas in the retail sector are analyzed, along with issues relating to international corporate business, and possible approaches for problem-solving are developed.

The principal focal areas of the Institute's research are as follows:

  • retail management
  • distribution management for consumer goods manufacturers 
  • alliances and networks 
  • international strategies 
  • domestic and foreign trade policies

The research horizon is broadened by the linkage of the Institute to the university’s chair of Foreign Trade and International Management, which also has an important influence on publication and transfer activities. These links in turn impact on the activities undertaken by Institute staff. Among other things, they give lectures and are involved in a variety of research projects. Moreover, the Institute's membership of the Institute for Empirical Business Studies facilitates interdisciplinary cooperation with the other member institutes:

  • Institute for Consumer and Behavioural Research
  • Institute for Information Systems
  • Institute for "Mittelstand" (Medium-Sized Business)
  • Institute of Financial Accounting and Auditing.

Research and knowledge-transfer activities, in the form of projects, expertise, lectures, workshops, conferences and congresses, are characterized by the strong contacts that have been built up over a period of many years between the Institute for Commerce & International Marketing and numerous companies, associations, chambers and economic institutions.

The Research Network

The Institute for Commerce & International Marketing cooperates with various partners at both national and international levels on theoretically-based, empirical research into complex issues of practical relevance. The inner circle of this research network comprises the following foreign institutions and universities, with whom longstanding cooperative relationships exist:

· College of Management - Mahidol University, Bangkok, Thailand.
· Lehrstuhl für Controlling und Telekommunikation - WHU Koblenz, Germany
· Institut für Technologie und Management - Technische Universität Berlin, Germany
· Wirtschaftswissenschaftliches Zentrum - Universität Basel, Switzerland
· Institut für Marketing und Handel - Universität St. Gallen, Switzerland
· Szkola Glowna Handlowa (SGH) - Warschau, Poland
· Institut für Marketing - Universität Graz, Austria
· Graduate School of Business - University College Dublin, Ireland
· Institute for Retail Studies - University of Stirling, United Kingdom
· European School of Management (ESCP-EAP) - Paris, France
· Ecole de Management (E.M.) - Lyon, France
· Centre de Recherche Rennais en Economie et en Gestion (CREREG) - Université de Rennes, France

The collaboration with the "Institut für Marketing" at the University of Graz, for example, takes the form of a jointly conducted panel study of European retail managers. These managers are surveyed both by post and in face-to-face interviews with regard to recent developments, their assessment and perceptions of them, and their own strategic approaches. This is all conducted within the framework of a trade monitoring project. The findings are destined primarily for the annual issues of "HandelsMonitor", although they are also analyzed for other Institute publications. The purpose of this trade monitoring project is not simply to observe and investigate current market trends on an ongoing basis, but also to build up an extensive data pool.

The fact that the head of the Institute is a member of the European Marketing Academy (EMAC) and the European Association for Education and Research in Commercial Distribution (EAERCD) likewise contributes to international academic cooperation.

Selected Reference Research Projects

In addition to cooperation within the research network, the Institute for Commerce and International Marketing maintains numerous intensive contacts with firms in various business sectors. The Institute is also engaged in ongoing dialogue with institutions, associations and chambers, notably in the Saarland and the adjoining regions, in the context of regional-policy research. As a result of this close cooperation with economic practitioners and politicians, the Institute has conducted a large number of successful projects including the following topics:

  • managerial and organizational structures in retail companies
  • development and implementation of contractual distribution systems
  • development and implementation of retail marketing concepts
  • development of cooperation and marketing strategies for buying groups
  • positioning of retail formats
  • the use of and benefits of multimedia customer information systems
  • current state and consequences of trade concentration
  • strategies of Western industrial and retail companies for distributing consumer goods in Eastern Europe
  • management of internationally operating retail companies
  • international strategic alliances between small and medium-sized companies
  • analysis of branches of service industry with an above-average growth rate
  • integrated quality and environmental management of supply chains
  • distribution structures on the aftermarket for automotive parts
  • revitalisation concepts for inner-city retailing
  • marketing concepts for city marketing
  • management of integrated logistical networks
  • retail branding
  • strategic sourcing for retail companies
  • analysis of channel structures of the European tire market
  • best practices in retailing
  • multi-channel sourcing
  • retail performance measurement
  • IT-systems for retail companies
  • the future of cooperation
  • cooperation, alliances and networks.

Cooperating Partners :

Publications and Conferences

The research work of the Institute has been published, among other outlets, in "Zukunft im Handel", the series of books edited by Joachim Zentes and Hans-Peter Liebmann, as well as in "Strategisches Euro-Management", edited by Joachim Zentes and Christian Scholz. "HandelsMonitor", which is published annually in collaboration with the University of Graz, is another useful outlet.

Joint trade conferences and discussion forums are held at regular intervals with firms, chambers of commerce, associations and other institutions, with the aim of intensifying the transfer of know-how "from the academic world to the real world" and, in the reverse direction, the transfer of problems "from the real world to that of academia".

Courses of Study

Two specialist subjects, namely "Foreign Trade and International Management" and, in collaboration with the Institute for Consumer Research, "Retail Business Management", are offered to students majoring in Business Administration at Saarland University. These specialist subjects are taught in the form of lectures, case studies and seminars:

Foreign Trade and International Management

  • International Marketing
  • International Management

Retail Business Management

  • Retail Management
  • Retail Strategies 
  • Retail Marketing


Strategic Management

At the end of their coursework study, students write a thesis on some project-related case, based on the syllabus they have covered.

Contact Details

Institute for Commerce & International Marketing

Chair for Business Administration,
Foreign Trade and International Management

Saarland University
Campus Building A5.4

66123 Saarbrücken

Phone.: +49 (0)681 302-44 75
Fax: +49 (0)681 302-45 32
E-Mail: hima(at)mx.uni-saarland.de

German Portrait