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Germany in the Eyes of the World

For the third time, GIZ has interviewed people across the globe to find out about their perceptions of Germany. The interviewees include representatives from the worlds of business, science and research, politics, the arts, journalism and many other professions across the continents. Here are the five key findings.

The face of compassion

Germany’s decision to take in so many refugees in 2015 and 2016 has softened its image. Although still a byword for diligence and efficiency, Germany is now also recognised as a compassionate citizen of the world. The decision, although still controversial in Germany itself, has certainly not dented its international reputation; quite the contrary, it has boosted its credibility. However, there is a lingering lack of clarity over the precise motives behind this policy.

In demand: a more pro-active Germany

The world wants a more pro-active Germany – one that assumes more responsibility. Interviewees would like to see Germany taking a leading role in international politics, without acting alone or in an aggressive manner. It should feature prominently as a sovereign ‘soft power’ with a desire to shape the agenda – a forward-looking nation that develops viable solutions to future challenges in the interests of the wider community. This is an increasingly vocal demand in a world in crisis and turmoil.

  • Statement Brazil
  • Statement China
  • Statement Ghana
  • Statement UK
  • Statement India
  • Statement Canada
  • Statement 1 Mali
  • Statement 2 Mali
  • Statement 1 Mexico
  • Statement 2 Mexico
  • Statement Saudi Arabia

Rather too traditional

In the eyes of the world, Germany remains true to itself, with a strong sense of values: justice, the rule of law, compassion and individual responsibility, with strong institutions and a robust welfare state. Overall, it is viewed as a mature democracy. On social issues, however, most observers regard it as less progressive: from the division of labour within the family to gay rights, Germany is perceived by interviewees to be rather too traditional.

Showing its strengths more clearly

The world wonders why Germany makes so little of itself internationally. Why the low profile? Sure, the classics – Porsche and Mercedes, Goethe and Schiller and the like – are still household names, but little or nothing is known about the rest. The world would like to see more of Germany’s modern and dynamic side, as exemplified by today’s Berlin, and is intrigued to know why Germany is reluctant to make greater use of its strengths for strategic purposes.

Fit for the digital future?

Germany is known for its well-performing economy with strong brands that are recognised and admired. According to the interviewees, Germany is an excellent place to do business; its dual vocational training system and applied research are pluses here. But is Germany resting on its laurels a little too much? In the age of digitalisation, is Germany too risk-averse? Is there a danger of it falling behind?

The study

For the qualitative study ‘Germany in the Eyes of the World’, GIZ conducted more than 150 interviews with representatives of 24 countries. The interviews offer profound insights that merit further reflection. It thus complements other studies, most of them standardised, on Germany’s image abroad. The selection of interviewees from all world regions and demographic groups gives the study its unique diversity. Another feature of the study is that the focal points of the interviews are not decided beforehand. It is therefore even more surprising to see the considerable overlaps in interviewees’ perceptions of Germany in many areas. The report is available in German and English. Similar surveys were conducted in 2011 and 2014.

This article was originally published in the magazine akzente – issue 2/18.

June 2018


Solomon Mengesha
15 November 2018

I like German starting from my Child hood ,because the first white people I had seen in my live was German they came as a missionaries and established school from grade 1-12th which gave me chance to study . They are Hard worker ,more precise and try to achieve good result. Most of them are not careless people spend much time on joke rather work more time than others ,that is why they are moving faster in development and economy .Regarding human character and behaviors , for me most German looks like a nut ,external hard cover and delicious inner parts . That means they are not easily interact and speak to you until they get to know you , once they know you it is not for shorter moment but for live long friendship . This is my experience from my Child hood time to today and I can say more ! Many countries can learn from Germany in many ways /in Technology ,machinery ,working ethics, preciseness, effectiveness etc .Germany also should keep it up what the older people did and move forward for new invents /innovation.

Dr. Sanjeev Kumar Sharma
5 October 2018

20 years insight. Lack of adaptability and flexibility , and acceptability of others (read non-Germans) overshadows all good about Germany. Social system despite its merit skewed towards those who do not want to work and system vulnerable to exploitation. One earns more or less the same at mid-level whether in job or not. It is about time to come out of past , stereotypes, and society prejudice . Opportunity for all, absorb the best should be the mantra. Certificates for every thing (4 years study to be seller in a bakery and even then not able to serve) not the way forward.

3 October 2018

I commend Germany for a number of things. innovation and invention, not only compassion but also offering a helping hand towards global crisises. Being the net benefiter of EU, it is good that it has kept the Union together. But in the face those who follow international and German politics and read between the lines it is not a coincidence that certain Germany takes certain actions just like any other country pursing its global interest. for example Germany had to let in a massive flow of external people meet its labour shortages in the manufacturing and service sectors given increasing aging population. Furthermore it had to increase public expenditures given its excellent economic performance before. Having leaved in Germany for sometime I find a correlation between the acceptance of refugees and economic status of the citizens i think the political elite should make this clear to the citizens and the world.

Secondly, Germany is doing polite well in a couple of areas but as it there is rule in Germany that you are not allowed to say something bad about someone especially in corperate Germany. But i stick to the acknowledging the good and point out the bad. For some people who have lived and work there know whats on ground some issues that need to be sorted out to improve its image such as affordable housing even for young working citizens and prejudice of coloured people in all levels of the society among others. These need to be sorted but In totally Germany as a country is a great country.

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