The World Economic Forum in Davos, which opens on 23 January 2018, has been running since 1971 but who started it?
It is the brainchild of German-born Klaus Schwab. Schwab, born in Ravensburg Germany in 1938, trained as an engineer at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH) in Zurich, before training as an economist at the University of Fribourg, Switzerland.
He founded the forum in Cologny, Geneva in 1971 while working as a business professor at the University of Geneva. Originally called the European Management Forum, Schwab invited executives of European businesses to the first meeting seeking to introduce them to the idea that companies should not only be accountable to their shareholders but must also serve a broader group of stakeholders, including employees, customers, suppliers, government, and society. As time went by the forum broadened its scope to include economic and social issues and in 1987 changed its name to the World Economic Forum.
Today he is one of the most well networked people in the world, however in an interview with the Wall Street Journal he described himself as a very unsocial person who never goes to cocktail parties. He says that periods of quiet reflection are an essential part of finding solutions to long-term issues. Busy leaders today struggle to find time for this. The World Economic Forum takes leaders out of their regular context and gives them a chance to interact with different people and reflect. Schwab, a keen cross-country skier and alpine hiker, says he always finds time to reflect in the Swiss outdoors.
For more on this:
Klaus Schwab: Inside the World Economic Forum (WSJ – in English)
Klaus Schwab, Founder and Chairman (World Economic Forum – in English)
World Economic Forum history (World Economic Forum – In English)