10 Break-Out Sessions

  • Time: 3:30 pm - 4:30 pm

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A Demographic Revolution: Young India Takes Charge (with All India Management Association)
Speaker
Ritesh Agarwal, Founder and Chief Executive Officer, OYO Rooms
Pranjal Sharma (Topic Leader), Economic Analyst, Advisor and Author, India

India is undergoing its economic, technological and demographic transition simultaneously. An old country is becoming youthful and adventurous with the passage of time. Young Indians like OYO founder Ritesh Agarwal are quietly taking charge of Indian ethos by becoming icons of audacious aspirations and tangible proofs of its potential, spawning startups that are becoming most valuable and famous than many legacy companies. How can young revolutionaries find ways to carry the older generation of investors, regulators, workers and consumers with them and what can other economies and founders learn from India’s momentous transition?

Collaborative Advantage Across Generations: Reflecting on the SGS Experience (ISC Alumni)
Speaker
Former Members of the International Students' Comittee
Christoph Loos (Topic Leader), Chief ­Executive ­Offi­cer, Hilti AG
Vivian Bernet (Topic Leader), Head of the Organising Committe, International Students' Comittee
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For over 50 years teams of student have volunteered to organise the St. Gallen Symposium. They have written countless invitations, met thousands of partners, and welcomed some of the most important personalities of their time on stage. Together with former members of the ISC we will reflect on the St. Gallen Symposium experience of cross-generational dialogue and collaboration, the lessons they have learned for their lives and on how the symposium has evolved. This session is organised together with ISC Alumni.

Collective Genius? Cultivating Creativity in the Arts and Beyond
Speaker
Susan Goldsworthy, Affiliate Professor of Leadership, Communications and Organizational Change, IMD Business School
Gerry Hofstetter, Light Artist & Film Producer Hofstetter Marketing
Javiera Estrada, Artist
Tatjana Rupp (Topic Leader), Member of the International Students' Committee

As the need for innovation is growing, the routinisation of well-structured creative processes within organizations is key for concurrent value creation. Prof. Susan Goldsworthy of IMD, this year's St. Gallen Symposium artist Javiera Estrada and Light Artist Gerry Hofstetter will discuss the role of collaboration in the creative process. Together, and in conversation with the audience, they’ll explore the way collaboration can drive creativity in various organisational contexts, and, on the other hand, the role of introversion and lone contemplation in creating something new.

Connecting Business with Purpose: The Potential of Skills-Based Volunteering
Speaker
Curdin Duschletta, Head Community Impact Switzerland & Foundations, UBS
Christopher Jarvis, Executive Director, RWInstitute
Prof. Amanda Shantz (Topic Leader), MBA Director and Professor of Management, University of St.Gallen

Many employee volunteering and giving programs are presented as an employee perk, similar to casual Fridays or a team-building event. But treating workplace giving and volunteering this way fails to fully capitalise on the great potential of such programs: to foster employee personal growth, and address key societal challenges. The panel will particularly explore the potential of skills-based volunteering, its benefits, and the unique challenges that arise when moving from merely transactional volunteering to something far more transformative.

Financing the Next Generation of Entrepreneurs
Speaker
Patrick Zhong, Founding Managing Partner, M31 Capital
Makram Azar, Founder and Chief Executive Officer, Full Circle Capital
Prof. Julia Binder (Topic Leader), Professor of Sustainable Innovation and Business Transformation, IMD Business School

The investment landscape over the next twenty years will be radically different from previous generations. While there appears to be greater access to capital, there also appears to be much more volatility and debt with no clear dominant financing mechanism. Entrepreneurs, VC, Private Equity, and banks will have to find new ways to work together to create growth and stimulate innovation. How can investors and entrepreneurs better collaborate and find mutually beneficial agreements that balance risk and return?

Hacking the Fashion & Luxury Watchmaking Industry towards more Sustainability (with Condé Nast College)
Speaker
Martina Bonnier, Editor-In-Chief, Vogue Scandinavia
Raynald Aeschlimann, President and CEO, Omega S.A
Carmen Jenny, Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer, CLOTHESfriends AG
Johannes Reponen (Topic Leader), Director of Post-Graduate Programmes; Academic Affairs; Research & Knowledge Exchange, Condé Nast College

The fashion industry accounts for 10% of humanity’s annual carbon emissions – more than all international flights and maritime shipping combined. For long, the fashion and luxury watchmaking industry drove, together with the fashion media industry, unsustainable dynamics in the sector: generating more and more demand through an artificial cycle of new collections and seasonal trends. Businesses’ marketing, media as well as influencers thereby create a constant longing and demand for their products. How can designers, fashion houses and publishers exit this vicious cycle and, collaboratively, drive the transition towards more sustainable and ethical fashion and luxury watchmaking?

M100 Sanssouci Colloquium@St. Gallen: Media’s New Power: More Impact Through Collaborative Journalism
Speaker
Mathias Müller von Blumencron, Journalist, Member of the Board, Tagesanzeiger and Advisory Board Member M100 Sanssouci Colloquium
Joanna Krawczyk, Chairwoman, Leading European Newspaper Alliance
Paul Radu, Investigative Journalist, Co-Founder OCCRP
Astrid Frohloff (Topic Leader), TV Presenter and Journalist, Advisory Board Member M100 Sanssouci Colloquium

Media diversity, freedom of the press and freedom of expression in Europe are currently under threat. Journalists and independent media companies are increasingly joining forces across borders to respond to such challenges as well as to be able to continue to offer independent quality journalism in the future. This session will identify learnings from new media partnerships such as the Leading European Newspaper Alliance (LENA) and the Organised Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP) to identify how media can most effectively work together.

Democratizing Access to the next Generation of Technology and Innovation: Communities and Radical Transformation
Speaker
Gina Loften, Member of the Board of Trustees, TIAA
Luzius Meisser, Chairman, Bitcoin Suisse
Tycho Onnasch, General Manager, Trust Machines
Shuo Chen (Topic Leader), General Partner, IOVC

Technology, innovation, and entrepreneurship are key drivers of the modern economy and social mobility. Given their importance, we should strive to improve accessibility to tech, education and entrepreneurship across all backgrounds. Creating open and inclusive communities, especially with tech is important to accomplishing this goal, but it is easier said that done. Simultaneously, a third iteration of the internet – Web3 – has the potential to radically transform the internet of things and reduce barriers to access. How can these forces be effectively harnessed and directed for the benefit of all people and move the world forward?

Varieties of Tech Capitalism: Europe's Approach to Innovation and Regulation in a Global Context
Speaker
Julian Teicke, Founder and Chief Executive Officer, wefox
Lisa-Marie Fassl, Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer, Female Founders
Christoph Keese (Topic Leader), Managing Partner and Chief Executive Officer, hy

Over the past decades, the tech sector, especially the internet of things, has become a central component of modern economies. Trying to catch up with the exponential pace of technological development, the US, China, and Europe are crafting rules of the game on digital markets. What are the emerging characteristic differences between regulatory regimes of digital markets, in the US, Europe and beyond, and how do they balance innovation and regulation? In light of strategic competition over tech dominance between the US and China, what are the opportunities and challenges for Europe in particular?

Changed for Good? Engaging with the New World of Work
Speaker
Petra von Strombeck, Chief Executive Officer, New Work SE
Jean-Christophe Deslarzes, Chair of the Board, Adecco Group
Nat Ware, Founder & CEO Forte
Prof. Heike Bruch (Topic Leader), Director, Institute for Leadership and Human Resources Management, University of St. Gallen
Watch Here

The Covid-19 pandemic has changed the world of work forever. The fast and widespread adoption of remote work and an ever-increasing concern of employees with purpose and meaning on their job have intensified the war for talents. Reaching out to and concurrently engaging employees is key for businesses across sectors and regions. What learnings can be drawn from the pandemic as regards our approach to work? Has the world of work changed for the better? And what role does leadership culture and a new approach to hiring play going forward?

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Pushback, Withdrawal, Dissidence, and Reform: Why Do States Contest the Liberal International Order?

Why do states contest the liberal international order, and what strategies of contestation do they use? In an exclusive Topic Brief for the St. Gallen Symposium, Professor Tanja Börzel and Professor Michael Zürn bring clarity to a heated debate by drawing attention to the role of power and political ideas.

The fall of the iron curtain between Western and Eastern Europe raised great hopes around the world. Some of these hopes even came true. Over the past twenty-five years, the world has seen the birth of new democracies, few interstate wars, enormous growth rates, poverty reduction in some fast-growing countries in the global South, modest average unemployment rates in the consolidated economies of the global North, and a significant improvement of the Human Development Index over time, including remarkable advances in health and life expectancy. These improvements in human welfare notwithstanding, the system of international institutions referred to as the “liberal international order” has come under attack. Rising powers like China and Brazil dispute the liberal international order (LIO) for being dominated by and biased towards the “West”. But the election of Donald Trump as President of the United States, Brexit, and transnational anti-globalization movements show that challenges to LIO also come from within liberal societies.

Why is the liberal international order increasingly under attack, despite remarkable improvements in human welfare over the past decades? Building on original research, we bring light to a debate that has occupied both the academic discipline of International Relations, as well as the wider public debate about recent developments in international affairs. We argue that the 1990s saw a systemic shift from the liberal post-World War II international order to a more intrusive, postnational liberal order with increasing authority beyond the nation state. While postnational liberal institutions helped increase overall well-being globally, they worked in favour of Western societies and elites and regularly violated the principle according to which alike cases should be treated alike. These institutional features of the postnational order emerging after the Cold War undermined its legitimacy among states and non-state actors, which have responded with different strategies of contestation.

Is multilateralism about to collapse?
An Ever More Intrusive Liberal International Order

The initial set-up after World War II with the United Nations (UN) system and the Bretton-Wood institutions was in the first place rule-based multilateralism. In the second place, its social purpose was to promote free trade while protecting the freedom of states to regulate their economies to reduce unemployment. This “embedded liberalism” in the economic realm was regionally limited to the Western world and complemented by global, but comparatively weak institutions: the UN human rights regime and the UN Security Council (UNSC) charged with the maintenance of international peace and security are most noteworthy. While the human rights institutions were part of political dynamics in Western societies and on the transnational level, they had less traction in the Eastern Bloc of socialist states in world politics. Overall, it seems fair to consider the post-World War II order as a thin liberal order, which was only weakly liberal but quite effective.

With the end of the Cold War, we saw – in addition to the ongoing deepening of liberal institutions in the decades after WW II – a new thrust towards LIO. It included a significant rise in the authority of international institutions as well as a strengthening of decisively liberal features within these institutions, such as human rights, the rule of law, democracy, and the free movement of people. Moreover, a growing number of states joining these institutions could be observed. The notion of state sovereignty shifted, and was now regarded increasingly as conditional on states’ enforcement and guarantee of liberal rights, rules, and decisions. Moreover, open markets and supranational bodies maintaining the rules for an economic order pushed economic policies towards further liberalization. In our view, the 1990s saw a systemic shift from a thin liberal post-World War II international order of liberal multilateralism (LIO I) to a post-Cold War international order of postnational liberalism (LIO II), which was not only rule-based but openly pursued a liberal social purpose with a significant amount of authority beyond the nation state. From the late 1990s on, this increasingly intrusive liberal order started to see growing opposition.

Initially, these contestations appeared to emanate from outside liberal societies. Rising China and revisionist Russia have challenged postnational liberalism, especially after 2001. Similar to contestants from the Global South, they target the Western bias of these institutions. At the same time, LIO became the major target of fundamentalist Islamism since the late 1990s, rejecting its liberal authority and the cosmopolitan worldview associated with it. Donald Trump, Brexit, and the electoral success of the Hungarian FIDEZS, the Polish PiS, or the Italian Lega clearly indicate that LIO has increasingly come under fire within liberal societies as well. Transnational movements, mainly based in Western countries, have also been battling neoliberal policies and demanded the re-regulation of global markets since the 1980s.

While ATTAC or Extinction Rebellion ultimately seek to strengthen liberal authority to address the social and environmental consequences of globalization, authoritarian populist parties echo demands of illiberal regimes to protect national sovereignty against external interference by liberal international institutions, including the World Trade Organization (WTO), the UN, the European Union (EU), or the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE).

An Ever More Intrusive Liberal International Order

The initial set-up after World War II with the United Nations (UN) system and the Bretton-Wood institutions was in the first place rule-based multilateralism. In the second place, its social purpose was to promote free trade while protecting the freedom of states to regulate their economies to reduce unemployment. This “embedded liberalism” in the economic realm was regionally limited to the Western world and complemented by global, but comparatively weak institutions: the UN human rights regime and the UN Security Council (UNSC) charged with the maintenance of international peace and security are most noteworthy. While the human rights institutions were part of political dynamics in Western societies and on the transnational level, they had less traction in the Eastern Bloc of socialist states in world politics. Overall, it seems fair to consider the post-World War II order as a thin liberal order, which was only weakly liberal but quite effective.

With the end of the Cold War, we saw – in addition to the ongoing deepening of liberal institutions in the decades after WW II – a new thrust towards LIO. It included a significant rise in the authority of international institutions as well as a strengthening of decisively liberal features within these institutions, such as human rights, the rule of law, democracy, and the free movement of people. Moreover, a growing number of states joining these institutions could be observed. The notion of state sovereignty shifted, and was now regarded increasingly as conditional on states’ enforcement and guarantee of liberal rights, rules, and decisions. Moreover, open markets and supranational bodies maintaining the rules for an economic order pushed economic policies towards further liberalization. In our view, the 1990s saw a systemic shift from a thin liberal post-World War II international order of liberal multilateralism (LIO I) to a post-Cold War international order of postnational liberalism (LIO II), which was not only rule-based but openly pursued a liberal social purpose with a significant amount of authority beyond the nation state. From the late 1990s on, this increasingly intrusive liberal order started to see growing opposition.

Initially, these contestations appeared to emanate from outside liberal societies. Rising China and revisionist Russia have challenged postnational liberalism, especially after 2001. Similar to contestants from the Global South, they target the Western bias of these institutions. At the same time, LIO became the major target of fundamentalist Islamism since the late 1990s, rejecting its liberal authority and the cosmopolitan worldview associated with it. Donald Trump, Brexit, and the electoral success of the Hungarian FIDEZS, the Polish PiS, or the Italian Lega clearly indicate that LIO has increasingly come under fire within liberal societies as well. Transnational movements, mainly based in Western countries, have also been battling neoliberal policies and demanded the re-regulation of global markets since the 1980s.

While ATTAC or Extinction Rebellion ultimately seek to strengthen liberal authority to address the social and environmental consequences of globalization, authoritarian populist parties echo demands of illiberal regimes to protect national sovereignty against external interference by liberal international institutions, including the World Trade Organization (WTO), the UN, the European Union (EU), or the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE).

Varieties of Contestation: Pushback, Reform, Withdrawal, and Dissidence

Contestations can be defined as discursive and behavioral practices that challenge the authority of international institutions, their liberal intrusiveness, or the liberal international order as a whole. The growing visibility of the steep rise of liberal intrusiveness has led to a wave of differentiated contestations with significant variation concerning what is contested and where.

In our account, it is the position of contestants towards liberal authority and their position in the contested institution that shape the strategy of contestation. The first dimension concerns the position of a given actor within the institution that is contested. The five permanent members of the UN Security Council, for instance, are closest to the decision-making power giving them the possibility to push for changes in the UN’s liberal authority. The second dimension is about the position or attitude towards postnational liberalism. While some contestations are directed against the specific way in which liberal authority is exercised (“rejection of the exercise of authority”), others defy liberal international authority as a whole (“rejection of authority”). The combination of these two dimensions leads to the four strategies of contesting the liberal international order that we can currently see.

As permanent members of the UN Security Council, Russia and China do not contest the political authority of the UNSC as such. Rather, their contestations target the liberal content of the human security approach. They have tried to pushback any far-reaching interpretation of human security and the R2P by emphasizing the principle of Westphalian sovereignty and the need to act only via the UNSC. At the same time, many of the populist movements within consolidated democracies push back against internationalization and minority rights. The above are examples of “pushback” – a strategy to reduce liberal international authority from the inside with the aim of returning to a prior condition of less liberal intrusiveness. In many cases, this involves challenging core components of the dominant liberal order. Pushback contestations are voiced by governments close to the decision-making core of the international authorities or social movements and political parties within states close to the core.

Actors that are dissatisfied with the way authority is exercised but accept international liberal authority in general, should opt for “reform”, if they perceive themselves as close enough to the core of the international authority to make their demands for change heard. India, Brazil, Japan, and Germany are central actors in the United Nations. They do not challenge the liberal intrusiveness of the UNSC but demand reforms of its institutional rules to increase the representativeness of the UNSC. Similarly, many of the transnational movements aim at reforming international institutions such as the WTO or the IMF.

In contrast, outsiders that do not see any chance to affect change in the way in which liberal authority is exercised are likely to go for “withdrawal”. This can take the form of “counter-institutionalization”, i.e. the creation of new liberal authorities, without necessarily leaving existing ones. Another form of withdrawal is to disregard liberal authority as long as actors find its exercise disagreeable but lack the means to change them or create alternative ones. African states have increasingly contested the authority of the International Criminal Court (ICC) whose creation they had originally supported. Being unable to change the ways in which the ICC exercises its authority, they perceive as being biased against them, African countries prohibited cooperation with the ICC, e.g. in the prosecution of Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir and Libyan President Muammar Gadaffi. They have also hosted wanted individuals, threatened to leave the ICC, and voted indicted individuals into the highest office.

In 2014, the Islamic State (IS) drew international attention when it conquered with brutality vast swathes of Iraq and declared itself the Caliphate. The central goal of IS is the destruction of the existing order and its substitution by a universal Islamic one. Terrorism can be considered as a violent form of “dissidence”, a strategy that aims at the destruction of liberal international institutions because actors reject any liberal international authority and as outsiders lack the power to defy it. A non-violent form are attempts at the full repatriation of international authority by transferring sovereignty rights back to states.

Coping with the Contestations of the Liberal International Order

Our account of contestations grasps the systematic shift from LIO I to LIO II and explains the rise of a differentiated wave of contestations. For policy makers and the wider public, our research holds at least two key take aways: First, some of the more powerful actors within current multilateral institutions do not question the existence of international institutions per se. Instead, key actors such as China question liberal intrusiveness into domestic state affairs, as observable in recent decades. Institutions allowing for inter-state coordination and cooperation in the realms of the economy and security can be expected to persist, but it is highly questionable that they will remain as liberal and as intrusive as they have been since the 1990s. Also, whether they will be able to deal with the world’s tremendous challenges such as climate change and the military use of emerging dual-use technologies such as artificial intelligence is all but clear. It is more concerning that some political strands within the West – at least rhetorically – currently seem to be more fundamentalist in rejecting international institutions. It needs a policy change and a clear commitment of Western powers to the liberal international order in order to develop appropriate responses to the challenges of our time.

Second, in times of rapid change and upheaval, there is a high demand in society and politics for explanations and understandings of important social phenomena. Politicians and the public are interested in knowing why we saw a shift from liberal multilateralism to postnational liberalism, why Brexit and the election of Donald Trump happened, and why China is not giving in to the trade demands of the Trump administration. Research in International Relations and related disciplines should put more effort in providing such explanations instead of exclusively focusing on the effects of a selected number of independent variables with the use of ever more sophisticated methods. Full-scale explanations may make it necessary to broaden our standards of causal inference to be able to offer insights of greater social relevance. We need not only to isolate single causes of contestations, but need to understand how different causes interact to produce the outcome of an epidemic wave of different contestations to the liberal international order. Without such a deeper understanding of what is going on, we can only look with surprise and with a lack of appreciation at the current developments. Yet, surprise and the lack of appreciation are bad counselors for finding the appropriate political response to the current predicament.

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