Three weeks after becoming CEO of Daimler Benz, Germany's largest industrial company, Jurgen E. Schrempp pounced. Starting on July 1, he will downsize Daimler's corporate headquarters in Stuttgart radically, axing 200 of its 500 top executive jobs. Headquarters' role in the four operating divisions, including Mercedes-Benz, is likely to be reduced. Zurich-based ABB, often considered the model European company, has already made similar moves.
Schrempp wants to instill an entrepreneurial culture at the $74 billion group as well as cut costs. He has ordered Daimler's 1,700-strong central research and development staff to hike their productivity by 30% in the next three years. Another 1,150 in-house professionals, from lawyers to tax experts, may have to compete with outside providers to sell their services within the company.