Building an International Organization for Public-Private Cooperation

Keeping the Spirit of Davos Alive

The Forum convened a global Industry Summit in partnership with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Harvard University.


In its 1992 Annual Report, the World Economic Forum stated that from the following year “invitations to our activities will be issued only to members and their special guests” to “reinforce the permanent ‘club’ and networking character of the foundation”.1 Certainly, the high-level participation at the 1993 Annual Meeting demonstrated how successful the Forum had been in positioning the organization as an important platform for international collaboration among business, government and civil society leaders.

The theme of the Annual Meeting was “Rallying All the Forces for Global Recovery”. Participants included 800 company chief executives, 150 political leaders including 25 heads of state or government (among them, Russian Prime Minister Victor Chernomyrdin on his first trip to Western Europe since taking office) and 200 leading experts and academic thinkers.

In the 1993 Annual Report, the Forum set out objectives and operating principles that remain valid today:

  • Facilitate integration and interaction
  • Invite politicians of the highest level in their individual capacity, without delegations
  • Ensure that the political-business encounter is a real interaction with concrete and positive consequences for political-economic policy formulation at a global level
  • Be very selective on participation by applying rigorous criteria but welcome the Global Leaders for Tomorrow (now the Young Global Leaders) as a specially featured group
  • Continue with the “Summit of Summits” concept by identifying as many common interests among participants as possible and arranging special small peer-group meetings for them as well as interaction between distinct peer groups
  • Reinforce the idea that the Annual Meeting, given its very strong political orientation as a result of the world situation, is the place where participants can recharge their intellectual batteries, take the “global pulse” in all fields, and create the basis for real leadership
  • Integrate spouses as full partners
  • Keep alive the Spirit of Davos – the informal, direct, no-nonsense yet friendly atmosphere which in recent years has contributed so much to creating partnerships and friendships2

Held in Cambridge, MA, in the United States, this event offered an additional opportunity for the Governors of each of the Industry Forums to meet outside the Annual Meeting and to exchange opinions on global strategic issues of common concern.

Klaus Schwab was always seeking to bolster the intellectual capacity of the Forum, which underpinned all its activities. To this end, the Forum appointed the first Forum Fellows, a group of 300 leading experts in the political, economic, social, cultural and technological fields who served as permanent advisers and contributors to the foundation’s activities. They were the predecessors of today’s Global Agenda Councils.

  1. Annual Report, World Economic Forum, 1992
  2. Report from the President, World Economic Forum, 1993