Nuremberg Institute for Market Decisions eV
Nuremberg / St. Galen
Humanity faces major challenges in shaping the future, the effects of which will particularly affect the younger generations. However, today’s top managers are skeptical that the next generation really wants to take on political and economic responsibility. Young senior talent sees things very differently. They also differ on the question of who demands the most sacrifices, and who demands them when it comes to social challenges. There seems to be a generational crisis. However, a closer look at the perspectives of today’s and tomorrow’s leaders paints a contrasting picture: while there are divisions between generations, there are also many common goals and priorities upon which intergenerational cooperation can be built to address important challenges. This is evidenced by this year’s study “Voices of Tomorrow’s Leaders” prepared by the Nuremberg Institute for Market Decisions (NIM) and the St. Gallen Symposium.
What are the chances of success for intergenerational collaboration? What challenges should be addressed with the highest priority? What about the transfer of responsibility and decision-making power? In order to take into account cross-generational discourse, as well as more than 680 young CEOs, top talent and start-up entrepreneurs from the St. Gallen seminar network (“Leaders of Tomorrow”), 300 senior managers (“Leaders of Today”) from the 2000 largest publicly traded global companies surveyed.
The climate crisis, the future of education and healthcare, and concerns about the increasing polarization in society – issues that unite generations
Overall, both groups express confidence that cross-generational collaboration can work: 65 percent of young talent and 77 percent of managers today see good opportunities for success in intergenerational dialogue. Older and young leaders also agree on important points when it comes to recognizing the most pressing issues and challenges of our time—albeit with different degrees of urgency: the climate crisis, and the future of education and health care are common themes on the agenda across generations.
88 percent of young talent and 61 percent of older managers see solving the climate crisis as an urgent or very urgent area of work. When it comes to issues across generations, the future of education is also ranked as urgent by 76 percent of young leaders and 64 percent of current leaders. Similarly, three-quarters (74 percent) of senior young talent and nearly two-thirds (62 percent) of senior managers see health as a (very) high priority.
In addition, there are similarities when it comes to the issue of personal concerns. Both groups see a major danger in the increasing political and cultural polarization that is undermining social cohesion in society.
Income equality and prosperity, the future of retirement systems, concerns about the uncontrollability of artificial intelligence – issues that divide generations
There are also specific issues that require further understanding. Above all, this relates to the important interests of young people, which do not seem to be high on the agenda of the elderly at the moment: unlike experienced leaders, young leaders rate economic and financial inequality as critical. The future of pension systems and the future of work are also high on the list of urgent challenges. On the other hand, government spending and new technologies are the most important issues for the current CEOs. But in their overall ranking they do not occupy a particularly high position. Because the perceived urgency, that is, the time pressure they see when changes are necessary, is significantly higher in most of the subjects mentioned than in older subjects.
“On the basis of the results of this study, we will advance the intergenerational dialogue on the topic of intergenerational justice even more,” says Felix Rudiger of the St. Gallen Forum.
There are also big differences when it comes to personal concerns: Older managers see not being able to control AI as a huge risk. Top young talent does not share this concern.
Should we have quotas so that the younger generation has a say in its future?
57 percent of young professionals say the older generation expects many sacrifices from them; Conversely, 50 percent of top managers surveyed said that the younger generation demands many sacrifices from them. Significant portions of both groups see themselves as being treated “unfairly” by the other generation – although only the older generation currently clearly occupy decision-making positions in business and politics.
When it comes to taking responsibility, there seems to be an intergenerational crisis: the majority of today’s managers say the younger generation is not ready to take on political and economic responsibility. But only about a third of young talent think this is the case.
“Both generations must put their position to the test in order to begin devolving more decision-making power to the next generation,” says Claudia Gaspar, lead study author at NIM. Because the numbers show that today’s top management certainly wants the younger generation to be involved in making decisions. Today’s managers agree with the younger generation that more young people’s participation in important decisions is essential to ensuring the quality of institutions. At least 63 percent of current CEOs and 82 percent of future CEOs agree with this. 66 per cent of current and 59 per cent of future directors consider mandatory quotas in political and economic decision-making bodies necessary. Both groups seem to believe that the participation of the younger generation should also be guaranteed by formal rules.
For the study Passing the Stick? Moving Decision Making, Priorities and Collaboration Across Generations of Leaders, 683 junior executives, top talent and start-up entrepreneurs from 81 countries were surveyed from the St. Gallen Forum Network. Of the 300 today’s leaders surveyed, more than 83 percent have more than 10 years of professional experience and work as senior vice presidents or above at the 2,000 largest publicly traded global companies. Surveying the two groups allows for a unique picture of the mood of the current and future global leadership elite (without pretending to be representative).
The study report is available for download from the home pages of the Nuremberg Institute for Market Decisions and the St. Gallen Symposium as of today.
Note: The study was completed in February 2022. Therefore, it is not possible to measure the possible changes in mood as a result of Russia’s war against Ukraine.
About St. Gallen’s Symposium
The St. Gallen Symposium is one of the leading global initiatives for intergenerational dialogue on economic, political and social issues and developments.
For more than 50 years, CEOs and visionaries have been brought together with young aspiring people in St. Gallen and in global locations as well as in digital formats. Together, the opportunities and challenges of our time are addressed and solutions developed. The seminar is a student initiative. With strategic support from the St. Gallen Foundation for International Studies, the International Student Committee – a team of around 30 students from the University of St. Gallen (HSG) – organizes various events of international importance to promote intergenerational dialogue. During the seminar in May, they will be supported by another 500 HSG students.
For more information see www.symposium.org; Twitter: seminar / Facebook: St. Gallen symposium / LinkedIn: St. Gallen symposium / Instagram: stgallensymposium
About the Nuremberg Institute for Market Decisions H. V (Neem)
The Nuremberg Institute for Market Decisions (NIM) is a non-profit institute for research into consumer and market decisions. At the interface between science and practice, NIM generates new and relevant insights that people in the markets can use to make better decisions. The NIM studies how decisions made by consumers and corporate decision makers change in the face of new trends and technologies and what are the implications for the quality of decisions.
The Nuremberg Institute for Market Decisions is the founder and major shareholder of GfK SE.
For more information, please visit www.nim.org.
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