Matthias Lehmann (Bonn): Culture, Law, and the Economy: Explaining Diversity in Business Regulations


Over the past years, there have been deep divisions not only between “developed” and “developing” or “emerging” countries, but also between the United States and Europe – and even between European countries themselves. Many of the divisions concern social issues, such as the regulation of gay marriage, abortion, genetic research, in vitro fertilization, or surrogate motherhood. The link between these problems and specific traditions, beliefs, and conditions, hence to what might loosely be called “culture”, is patent. It is therefore hardly surprising that countries adopt varying attitudes towards them.

More remarkable are the divergences emerging with regard to the regulation of the economy, an area supposedly dominated by strictly rational and almost mathematical thinking. While some countries have opted for privatization and de-regulation, others are following policies aimed at more sustainable and ecological growth. Open markets and free trade, as guarantors of wealth, are still favored by many, but increasingly questioned by those who were previously their most fervent supporters.

The aim of the talk is to enrich the discourse about economic regulation with cultural aspects. Using concrete examples, Matthias Lehmann will illustrate the massive differences between legal systems. Thus, Matthias Lehmann’s lecture will try to enhance the understanding of different national mentalities, their impact on regulation, and their repercussions on global cooperation and coordination.

Curriculum Vitae

From 1991 to 1996, Prof. Dr. Matthias Lehmann studied Legal Studies at the University of Jena. He subsequently participated in an additional postgraduate course on the subject “Droit des relations économiques internationales” from 1997 to 1998 at the Universität Panthéon-Assas (Paris II). Until 2002, Prof. Dr. Matthias Lehmann was a trainee lawyer at the Superior Court of Justice in Berlin where he also completed his second state examination. In the same year, he was also awarded his doctorate from the University of Jena with a dissertation on the subject “Die Schiedsfähigkeit wirtschaftsrechtlicher Streitigkeiten als transnationales Rechtsprinzip”. Six years later, he earned his habilitation at the University of Bayreuth with his work “Vom Wertpapier zum Finanzinstrument”. A second doctorate on the subject “From Conflict of Laws to Global Justice”, awarded from Columbia University, followed in 2011. From 2009 to 2014, Prof. Dr. Matthias Lehmann was Chair of German and European Private Law, Commercial and Business Law, European Law, and Private International and Comparative Law as well as Director of the Institute of Economic Law at the University of Halle-Wittenberg. Furthermore, he has had various guest professorships and fellowships both in Europe and the United States, including at the Columbia Law School, Université Montesquieu, Universidad Pablo de Olavide in Sevilla, and Université Fribourg. Since October 2014 Prof. Dr. Matthias Lehmann is Director of the Institute for International Private and Comparative Law at the University of Bonn.

Since October 2018 Prof. Dr. Matthias Lehmann is Fellow at the Käte Hamburger Center “Law as Culture”.