Foundation statute

The certificate of incorporation of 1889 consists of only 17 paragraphs and regulates the foundation goals pursued by Ernst Abbe, questions of the transfer of the assets to the foundation, and above all, the use of corporate income. The focus is on funding of scientific purposes at the University of Jena.

The foundation statute of 1896 with a total of 122 paragraphs differs from the certificate of incorporation by the fact that Ernst Abbe incorporates his basic entrepreneurial principles for corporate management as well as for the promotion and social protection of employees into the statute in great detail in order to permanently commit the foundation to these principles.
The statute was handed over to every employee as an internal corporate constitution of the foundation companies. His regulations on health, pension and survivors’ insurance, working hours, salary, and leave as well as his appointment of an independent workers’ committee for issuing advisory opinions to the Executive Board were exemplary for his time.

However, this did not change the actual foundation goal to promote science. This is reassured by the supplementary statute of 1900 with 14 articles, which governed the grants to the University of Jena through the “Ministerial Fund for Scientific Purposes” previously established in 1886 (University Fund of the Carl Zeiss Foundation). In a downright visionary way for the time, Ernst Abbe succeeded with the statute of 1896 in linking a modern employee-friendly corporate philosophy with an entrepreneurial patronage. It then took another half century until the principles developed and implemented by Ernst Abbe prevailed to a greater extent in Germany in the form of a modern labour law and a corporate philosophy focussed on the common good.

With the Carl Zeiss Foundation, Ernst Abbe pursued various goals whose realization he hoped to permanently secure with the foundation model: Preservation of enterprises and their economic performance, promotion and social protection of employees including the social environment, promotion of science from the earnings of companies. Fulfilment of these goals has succeeded to this day with sometimes different time-related focus areas.

As part of the fundamental foundation reform of 2004, the statutes of the Carl Zeiss Foundation were adapted to the social, economic and legal changes that have taken place; it has been in force since 01 July 2004. The reform was deliberately tied to the original goals of Ernst Abbe. The formal separation of the foundation companies from the foundation by spinning the companies off into legally independent joint-stock companies already provides the desired results: by clearly assigning responsibility for individual foundation purposes to individual persons, the various foundation goals are realised even more effectively side by side.
The age limit regulation (affecting the members of the Foundation Board of Trustees), which no longer lines up with the actual and legal framework conditions, was changed in 2009.