Purpose This paper aims to look at the past development and potential of the Rhenish capitalist governance “model”. The paper aims to discuss the origins and nature of the model. The main focus is on the model's in crisis and its specific role within the transformation processes of Central-Eastern European economies. East-Central Europe is where, it is contended, Rhineland capitalism's future will be decided. Design/methodology/approach Drawing on archival research (including current writings) the paper draws out two salient features of the Rhenish capitalist model which would be relevant to explore bank customers perceptions of bank governance and practice in the Polish-German city of Zgorzelec-Görlitz. The experience of Dresdner Bank is stressed and the fact that the local people not long before lived under a Socialist regime. Findings The paper contends that the abandonment of the social harmony structured into the Rhineland model would be a great pity, since the 100 years of effort it took to create it would go down the drain. Originality/value The paper ascertains the presence of German management traditions as opposed to Anglo-American approaches to management in the context of retail bank markets in a border region.