Shaping The Future Together: How Does Desire Become Reality?04. May 2022
Where it doesn’t click between young talents and top managers
Nuremberg/St. Gallen, May 4, 2022: Humanity is facing great challenges in shaping the future, the impact of which will especially affect the younger generations. However, the top managers of today are skeptical that new talent are willing to take on political and economic responsibility. Young top talents see it very differently. They also disagree on the question of who is asking whom to make too many sacrifices when it comes to social challenges. Something isn’t clicking between the generations. A closer look at the perspectives of today’s and tomorrow’s senior executives paints a different picture: While there are gaps between generations, there are also many shared goals and priorities on which intergenerational collaboration can build to address important challenges. This is illustrated by this year’s study, “Voices of the Leaders of Tomorrow” by the Nuremberg Institute for Market Decisions (NIM) and the St. Gallen Symposium.
What are the chances of successful collaboration between the generations? What challenges should be addressed first? And how is the transfer of responsibility and decision-making power going? To account for intergenerational discourse, in addition to over 680 young executives, top talents and start-up companies from the St. Gallen Symposium network (“Leaders of Tomorrow”), 300 top managers (“Leaders of Today”) from the 2,000 biggest listed companies in the world were included in the survey.
Climate, the future of education, health care, increasing polarization of society – issues that unite the generations
In general, both groups express confidence that intergenerational collaboration can succeed: 65 percent of young top talents and 77 percent of today’s managers see good chances of success for intergenerational dialogue. Older and younger leaders also agree on important points in their perceptions of the most pressing issues and challenges of our time – although the sense of urgency varies: The climate crisis, the future of education and health care are common issues on the intergenerational agenda.
88 percent of the young top talents and 61 percent of the older executives see solving the climate crisis as urgent or very urgent. The future of education is also seen by 76 percent of young leaders and 64 percent of today’s senior executives as urgent. Three-quarters (74 percent) of young top talents and almost two-thirds (62 percent) of top managers see health as a (very) urgent issue.
There were also commonalities when it came to their personal concerns. Both groups see a great danger in the fact that increasing political and cultural polarization will further undermine social cohesion.
Equity in income and wealth, the future of pension systems, concerns about the uncontrollability of artificial intelligence – issues that divide the generations
There are also concrete issues on which more agreement is necessary. This applies above all to important interests of young people, which do not seem to be very high on the agenda of older people at the moment: Economic/financial disparity is considered extremely important by young leaders – in opposition to the experienced leaders. The future of the retirement system and the future of work are also high up the list of urgent challenges. Government spending and new technologies, on the other hand, are top issues for current executives. In principle, young executives share the view that these are issues that urgently need to be resolved. But they do not place particularly high in their overall ranking. This is because the degree of perceived urgency, i.e., the time pressure they see for necessary changes, is significantly higher for most of the issues mentioned than for older executives.
“Based on the results of this study, we will more strongly promote intergenerational dialogue on the topic of generational justice,” says Felix Rüdiger of the St. Gallen Symposium.
There were also big differences in personal concerns: Older executives see the uncontrollability of artificial intelligence as a big danger. Young top talents do not share these concerns.
Do we need quotas so the younger generation can help decide their future?
57 percent of young executives stated that the older generation demanded too many sacrifices of them, whereas 50 percent of the top managers surveyed stated that it was they themselves being asked to make sacrifices. Large parts of both groups saw themselves as being treated “unfairly” by the other generation, despite the fact that only the older generation has a clear hold on decision-making positions in economics and politics.
There were also sticky points when it came to the transfer of responsibility between the generations: The majority of today’s senior executives said that the young generation is not ready to take over political and economic responsibility (see graph below). Only a third of young top talents see it this way.
“Both generations should put their own positions to the test to start the process of transferring more decision-making power to the next generation,” says Claudia Gaspar, Head of Surveys at NIM. Because the numbers show that today’s top management definitely want to involve the younger generation in decision-making. They agree with the younger generation that greater participation of young people in important decisions is necessary to ensure the quality of institutions. At least 63 percent of current and 82 percent of future executives agree with this. 66 percent of today’s and 59 percent of tomorrow’s executives even consider compulsory quotas in political and economic decision-making bodies necessary. Clearly, both groups believe that involving the younger generation must be ensured by formal regulations.
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About the Study
683 young executives, top talents and start-ups from 81 countries were surveyed from the St. Gallen Symposium network for the study “Passing on the Baton? Transfer of Decision-making, Priorities and Collaboration across Generations of Leaders.” Of the 300 “Leaders of Today,” more than 83 percent had more than ten years of experience and worked as Senior Vice President or higher at the 2,000 biggest listed global companies. The survey of the two groups provides a unique picture of the mood of the current and future global leadership elite (without any claim to representativeness).
About the Study
683 young executives, top talents and start-ups from 81 countries were surveyed from the St. Gallen Symposium network for the study “Passing on the Baton? Transfer of Decision-making, Priorities and Collaboration across Generations of Leaders.” Of the 300 “Leaders of Today,” more than 83 percent had more than ten years of experience and worked as Senior Vice President or higher at the 2,000 biggest listed global companies. The survey of the two groups provides a unique picture of the mood of the current and future global leadership elite (without any claim to representativeness).The study’s report is available from today for download from the homepages of the Nuremberg Institute for Market Decisions and the St. Gallen Symposium. Note: The study was completed in February 2022. Possible changes in mood brought about by the Russian invasion of Ukraine have therefore not been measured.
About the St. Gallen Symposium
The St. Gallen Symposium is one of the world’s leading initiatives for intergenerational dialogue on economic, political and social issues and developments.
For more than 50 years, established executives and visionaries and young talents have come together in St. Gallen, other locations around the world, and in online formats. Together they address the challenges of our time and develop solutions. The Symposium is a student initiative. Under the strategic direction of the St. Gallen Foundation for International Studies, the International Students’ Committee – a team of around 30 University of St. Gallen (HSG) students – organizes numerous events of international significance to promote intergenerational dialogue. During the Symposium in May, they will be supported by 500 other HSG students.
You can find further information at www.symposium.org; Twitter: SG__Symposium / Facebook: St. Gallen Symposium / LinkedIn: St. Gallen Symposium / Instagram: stgallensymposium
About the Nuremberg Institute for Market Decisions (NIM)
The Nuremberg Institute for Market Decisions (NIM) is a non-profit institute for the research of consumer and market decisions. At the interface between science and practice, the NIM generates new and relevant insights that people can use to make better decisions in markets. The NIM examines how decisions of consumers and company decision-makers change in the face of new trends and technologies - and the effects this has on the decision quality.
The Nuremberg Institute for Market Decisions is the founder and anchor shareholder of GfK SE.
For more information, please visit www.nim.org/en.