Case #1741.0

Convener or Player? The World Economic Forum and Davos

Publication Date: January 01, 2004
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The Swiss alpine resort Davos became, during the last quarter of the 20th century, synonymous with a conference which made possible informal conversations amongst some of the world's most successful and influential people. Over time, global business, political, and academic leaders came to covet an invitation to the annual mid-winter meeting of the World Economic Forum (WEF)--widely referred to as "Davos." WEF, headquartered in Geneva, provided what many viewed as a crucial service: on-going opportunities for leaders to meet and exchange ideas surrounding intractable global problems. This case tells of how the Forum came into existence, and how the Davos meeting gained prestige. This case focuses on the vision, technique and management style of WEF founder Klaus Schwab, the engineer and business professor who conceived, and shepherded, Davos to prominence. It examines turning points and key decisions which allowed the Forum to become financially self-sustaining, while setting what Schwab referred to as "the global agenda."

Learning Objective:
The case can serve a number of teaching purposes. For nonprofit management courses, it allows for discussion of the strategic, financial and human resource issues which Schwab confronts. A more quantitative course could examine what results measurements, if any, apply to the WEF. For those leading courses in political theory, the case raises questions about how networks are formed and their effects over time. For leadership courses, it raises questions about Schwab's personal and managerial style--what worked and what did not.

Other Details

Case Author:
Kirsten Lundberg
Faculty Lead:
Graham Allison
Pages (incl. exhibits):