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Klaus Schwab

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Klaus Schwab
Klaus Schwab - World Economic Forum Annual Meeting 2011.jpg
Schwab in 2011
Born (1938-03-30) 30 March 1938 (age 84)
OccupationFounder and executive chairman, World Economic Forum
Hilde Schwab
(m. 1971)
Academic background
EducationETH Zürich (Dr. Sc. Tech)
University of Fribourg (Dr. Rer. Pol)
Harvard University (MPA)
InfluencesHenry Kissinger[1]

Klaus Martin Schwab (German pronunciation: [klaʊs ˈmaʁtiːn ʃvaːp]; born 30 March 1938) is a German engineer, economist and founder of the World Economic Forum (WEF). He has acted as the WEF's chairman since founding the organisation in 1971.


Schwab was born to Eugen Wilhelm Schwab and Erika Epprecht[2][3] in Ravensburg. His parents had moved from Switzerland to Germany during the Third Reich in order for his father to assume the role of director at Escher Wyss AG.[4] Schwab's family was monitored by the Gestapo,[5] which in 1944 also interrogated his mother (who was from Zurich) for using a Swiss accent in public.[4] He is a citizen of Germany although he has three Swiss grandparents and two Swiss brothers.[5]

Schwab has been married since 1971 to Hilde Schwab, a former assistant of his.[6] The wedding took place in Sertig Valley at a Reformed church.[7] The couple live in Cologny in Switzerland.[8] The Schwabs have two adult children, Nicole (born 1975/76) and Olivier. Nicole Schwab co-founded the Gender Equality Project.[9]


Schwab attended 1st and 2nd grade at the primary school in the Wädenswil district of Au ZH, in Switzerland. After World War II, the family moved back to Germany where Schwab attended the Spohn-Gymnasium in Ravensburg until his Abitur in 1957.[5][10]

In 1961, he graduated as a mechanical engineer from Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich,[11] which awarded him a doctorate in engineering entitled: Der längerfristige Exportkredit als betriebswirtschaftliches Problem des Maschinenbaues (Longer-term export credit as a business problem in mechanical engineering).[12] He was also awarded a doctorate in economics from the University of Fribourg,[11][13] and a Master of Public Administration degree from the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University.[14]


Schwab was professor of business policy at the University of Geneva from 1972 to 2003, and since then has been an Honorary Professor there.[11] Since 1979, he has published the Global Competitiveness Report, an annual report assessing the potential for increasing productivity and economic growth of countries around the world, written by a team of economists. The report is based on a methodology developed by Schwab, measuring competitiveness not only in terms of productivity but also based on sustainability criteria.[15]

During the earlier years of his career, he served on a number of company boards, such as The Swatch Group, The Daily Mail Group, and Vontobel Holding. He is a former member of the steering committee of the Bilderberg Group.[16]

As author

Schwab has authored or co-authored several books; some consider him to be "an evangelist" for "stakeholder capitalism".[17] The Fourth Industrial Revolution is one of his pet ideas, and he sees "human enhancement" as driver for this revolution.[18] In this he was seconded by Jack Ma and Eric Schmidt, the latter of whom wrote that "the technologies of the Fourth Industrial Revolution are extraordinary. Leadership has to be equally extraordinary to manage the complexities of systemic change." Indeed WEF data predict that "by 2025 we will see: commercial use of nanomaterials 200 times stronger than steel and a million times thinner than human hair; the first transplant of a 3D-printed liver; 10% of all cars on US roads being driverless."[19]

In January 2017 Steven Poole in The Guardian criticised Schwab's Fourth Industrial Revolution book,[20] pointing out that "the internet of things" would probably be hackable. He also criticised Schwab for showing that future technologies may be used for good or evil, but not taking a position on the issues, instead offering only vague policy recommendations.

The dominant ideology of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, transhumanism, has attracted at least one academic bioethicist critic,[21][22] although it has its supporters in the popular press, too.[23] The Great Reset has attracted its own share of critics, and certain among these approach the topic from a biblical perspective.[24][25] The Financial Times "innovation editor" found "the clunking lifelessness of the prose" led him to "suspect this book really was written by humans — ones who inhabit a strange twilight world of stakeholders, externalities, inflection points and “developtory sandboxes”."[26] One writer sought to "engage in the discourse of posthumanism and cybernetics and how these debates relate to craft and making.." and to produce "a humble attempt to reorient makers to the necessary discourse required to navigate the inevitable changes they will face in their disciplines. Thus, the article seeks to transfer posthumanist literary understanding to intellectually position craft in the Fourth Industrial Revolution."[27]

World Economic Forum

Schwab (rightmost) opens the inaugural European Management Forum in Davos in 1971.
Russian President Vladimir Putin and Schwab shaking hands at the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum.

In 1971, Schwab founded the European Management Forum, which was renamed the WEF in 1987.[28] In 1971, he also published Moderne Unternehmensführung im Maschinenbau[29] (Modern Enterprise Management in Mechanical Engineering). In that book, he argued that the management of a modern enterprise must serve both shareholders and corporate stakeholders (die Interessenten), to achieve long-term growth and prosperity. Schwab has championed the multistakeholder concept since the WEF's inception.

In 2003 Schwab appointed José María Figueres as CEO of the WEF,[30] his intended successor. In October 2004, Figueres resigned[31] over his undeclared receipt of more than US$900,000 in consultancy fees from the French telecommunications firm Alcatel while he was working at the Forum.[32][33] In 2006, Transparency International highlighted this incident in their Global Corruption Report.[34]

In 2015, the WEF was formally recognised by the Swiss Government as an "international body".[35]


Salary level and lack of financial transparency

While Schwab declared that excessively high management salaries were "no longer socially acceptable",[36] his own annual salary of about one million Swiss Francs has been repeatedly questioned by the media. The Swiss radio and television corporation SRF mentioned this salary level in the context of ongoing public contributions to the WEF and the fact that the Forum does not pay any federal taxes.[37] Moreover, the former Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung journalist Jürgen Dunsch made the criticism that the WEF's financial reports were not very transparent since neither income nor expenditure were broken down.[38] Schwab has also drawn ire for mixing the finances of the not-for-profit WEF and other for-profit business ventures. For example, the WEF awarded a multimillion dollar contract to USWeb in 1998. Yet shortly after the deal went through, Mr. Schwab took a board seat at the same company, reaping valuable stock options.[39][40]

Capture of democratic structures and institutions

Schwab as publisher of the World Economic Forum's 2010 "Global Redesign" report postulates that a globalized world is best managed by a self-selected coalition of multinational corporations, governments (including through the UN system), and select civil society organizations (CSOs).[41] He argues that governments are no longer "the overwhelmingly dominant actors on the world stage" and that "the time has come for a new stakeholder paradigm of international governance". The WEF's vision includes a "public-private" UN, in which certain specialized agencies would operate under joint state and non-state governance systems.[42]

According to the Transnational Institute (TNI), the Forum is hence planning to replace a recognised democratic model with a model where a self-selected group of "stakeholders" make decisions on behalf of the people.[43] The think tank summarises that we are increasingly entering a world where gatherings such as Davos are "a silent global coup d'état" to capture governance.[43]

In a 2017 interview, Schwab said that Russian President Vladimir Putin had been recognized as a Young Global Leader, and also mentioned Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau: "I have to say, when I mention now names, like Mrs. (Angela) Merkel and even Vladimir Putin, and so on, they all have been Young Global Leaders of the World Economic Forum. But what we are very proud of now is the young generation like Prime Minister [Justin] Trudeau ... We penetrate the cabinet. So yesterday I was at a reception for Prime Minister Trudeau and I know that half of his cabinet, or even more than half of his cabinet, are actually Young Global Leaders."[44]

Controversy with Davos municipality

In June 2021, Schwab sharply criticised the "profiteering", "complacency" and "lack of commitment" by the municipality of Davos in relation to the WEF annual meeting. He mentioned that the preparation of the COVID-related meeting in Singapore in 2021/2022[45] had created an alternative to its Swiss host and sees the chance that the annual meeting will stay in Davos at between 40 and 70 per cent.[46][47]

Awards and honours

Among other awards, Schwab has been conferred with the French Legion of Honour (knight distinction), the Grand Cross with Star of the National Order of Germany, and the Japanese Grand Cordon of the Order of the Rising Sun.[48] He also was awarded the Dan David Prize,[49] and was knighted by Queen Elizabeth as Knight Commander of the Order of St Michael and St George.[48]

Schwab has been the recipient of multiple honorary doctorates from institutions including the London School of Economics,[50] the National University of Singapore,[48] and the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology.[51] He is honour member from FC Bayern Munich.


Schwab has authored or co-authored several books:

  • The Fourth Industrial Revolution. Geneva: World Economic Forum (2016). ISBN 978-1944835002.
  • Shaping the Future of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, with Nicholas Davis. New York: Crown Publishing Group (2018).
  • COVID-19: The Great Reset, with Thierry Malleret. Forum Publishing (2020). ISBN 978-2940631124.
  • Stakeholder Capitalism: A Global Economy that Works for Progress, People and Planet. Hoboken, New Jersey: Wiley (2021).
  • The Great Narrative: For a Better Future, with Thierry Malleret. Forum Publishing (2022).


  1. ^ "1980 – Change, Celebration and Competitiveness – Building an International Organization for Public-Private Cooperation". Retrieved 24 March 2022.
  2. ^ Norton, Tom (25 January 2022). "Klaus Schwab is not related to the Rothschild family". Full Fact. Retrieved 2 April 2022. Mr Schwab also dedicated his book “Stakeholder Capitalism”, published in 2021, to his parents Eugen Wilhelm Schwab and Erika Epprecht.
  3. ^ Schwab, Klaus; Vanham, Peter (2021). Stakeholder Capitalism: A Global Economy that Works for Progress, People and Planet. Wiley. ISBN 978-1119756132.
  4. ^ a b "Gründer Klaus Schwab zur Geschichte des WEF und zum 50. Treffen in Davos: "Ich will mich von Greta nicht instrumentalisieren lassen"". Neue Zürcher Zeitung. 20 January 2020. Retrieved 1 February 2022.
  5. ^ a b c Patrik Müller, Andreas Maurer. An impossible gift: Why the naturalisation of WEF founder Klaus Schwab will fail. Aargauer Zeitung, 20 August 2019.
  6. ^ Whitney, Craig (28 January 1997). "Political and Corporate Elite Soak Up Big Ideas at Davos". The New York Times.
  7. ^ "SI_2010_05 by Schweizer Illustrierte – Issuu".
  8. ^ Edwards, Haley (4 February 2019). "The Optimist's Playbook". Time. Vol. 193. pp. 62–65.
  9. ^ Bernaudon, Sylvie (31 May 2012). "Les 20 femmes qui font la Suisse". Tamedia Publications. Bilan – B Economie. Retrieved 28 November 2021.
  10. ^ Jürgen Dunsch: Host of the Mighty: Klaus Schwab and the World Economic Forum in Davos. FinanzBuch Verlag 2016. p. 26f.
  11. ^ a b c "Professor Klaus Schwab" (PDF). World Economic Forum.
  12. ^ Schwab, Klaus Martin (1965). Der längerfristige Exportkredit als betriebswirtschaftliches Problem des Maschinenbaues. Research Collection (Doctoral Thesis) (in German). ETH Zürich. doi:10.3929/ethz-a-000105052. hdl:20.500.11850/135413. Retrieved 26 November 2020.
  13. ^ "Some of our Graduates". Faculty of Management, Economics and Social Sciences, University of Fribourg. Retrieved 26 November 2020.
  14. ^ "Improving the State of the World: a Conversation with Klaus Schwab". The Institute of Politics at Harvard University. Retrieved 26 November 2020.
  15. ^ "Global Competitiveness | World Economic Forum-Global Competitiveness". Weforum. Retrieved 25 January 2012.
  16. ^ "Former Steering Committee Members". Bilderberg Group. Archived from the original on 2 February 2014. Retrieved 8 February 2014.
  17. ^ Ramaswamy, Vivek (25 January 2021). "'Stakeholder Capitalism' Review: The Global, Olympian 'We'". Dow Jones & Company, Inc. Wall Street Journal.
  18. ^ "Human Enhancement". World Economic Forum. n.d.
  19. ^ "The Fourth Industrial Revolution av Klaus Schwab". Bokus AB. 5 January 2017.
  20. ^ Poole, Steven (6 January 2017). "The Fourth Industrial Revolution review – adapt to new technology or perish". the Guardian. Retrieved 14 May 2022.
  21. ^ Giesen, Klaus-Gerd (2018). "Le transhumanisme comme idéologie dominante de la quatrième révolution industrielle". Journal International de Bioéthique et d'Éthique des Sciences. 29 (3): 189–203. doi:10.3917/jibes.293.0189. PMID 30767456.
  22. ^ Giesen, Klaus-Gerd (2020). "The Transhumanist Ideology and the International Political Economy of the Fourth Industrial Revolution". Ideologies in World Politics. Staat – Souveränität – Nation. pp. 143–156. doi:10.1007/978-3-658-30512-3_9. ISBN 978-3-658-30511-6. S2CID 226609515.
  23. ^ Singh, Sarwant (30 November 2017). "Transhumanism And The Future Of Humanity: 7 Ways The World Will Change By 2030". Forbes.
  24. ^ "The Biblical Response to The Great Reset with Pastor Jack Hibbs". The Charlie Kirk Show. 6 March 2022.
  25. ^ Bowyer, Jerry (26 September 2013). "A Christian Alternative To 'Davos Man' And The Federal Reserve". Forbes.
  26. ^ Thornhill, John (19 November 2018). "Shaping the Future of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, by Klaus Schwab with Nicholas Davis". THE FINANCIAL TIMES LTD.
  27. ^ Stevens, James (2020). "Post Human Craft: A Humble Attempt to Reorient Makers to the Inevitable". Cubic Journal (3): 150–165. doi:10.31182/cubic.2020.3.029. S2CID 229491944.
  28. ^ Pigman, Geoffrey Allen (2007). The World Economic Forum: a multi-stakeholder approach to global governance. London: Routledge. pp. 6–22. ISBN 978-0-415-70204-1.
  29. ^ Schwab, Klaus (2014). Moderne Unternehmensführung im Maschinenbau (PDF).
  30. ^ "José Mariá Figueres Olsen President, Carbon War Room". n.d.
  31. ^ "CEO resigns". World Economic Forum.
  32. ^ "WEF director resigns over undeclared fees". SWI 29 October 2004.
  33. ^ "Statement from the World Economic Forum". 29 October 2004.
  34. ^ "Global Corruption Report 2006 – Transparency International, Page 147" (PDF). Global Corruption Report 2006 – Transparency International.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  35. ^ "Agreement signed with the WEF". The portal of the Swiss government. Retrieved 5 June 2020.
  36. ^ Meck, Georg (20 January 2013). "Zu hohe Managergehälter sind nicht mehr sozial verträglich". Carsten Knop Berthold Kohler Jürgen Kaube Gerald Braunberger. Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung. Retrieved 7 December 2021.
  37. ^ "Knurrende Zustimmung vom Ständerat zu WEF-Geldern". SRG SSR. Schweizer Radio und Fernsehen. 11 June 2021. Retrieved 7 December 2021.
  38. ^ Busse, Caspar (17 January 2017). "Das Weltwirtschaftsforum ist zu einer Geldmaschine geworden" [The World Economic Forum has become a money machine]. Süddeutsche Zeitung (in German).
  39. ^ Flynn, Julia; Stecklow, Steve (27 January 2000). "Davos Chief Dabbles in For-Profit Firms, Raising Questions About Forum's Priorities". The Wall Street Journal.
  40. ^ Goodman, Peter (18 January 2022). "How Klaus Schwab Built a Billionaire Circus at Davos". Vanity Fair. Retrieved 4 March 2022.
  41. ^ "Everybody's business: strengthening international cooperation in a more interdependent world – report of the global redesign initiative" (PDF). World Economic Forum. May 2010. Retrieved 17 August 2021.
  42. ^ Martens, Jens (2020). "The Role of Public and Private Actors and Means in Implementing the SDGs: Reclaiming the Public Policy Space for Sustainable Development and Human Rights". Sustainable Development Goals and Human Rights. Interdisciplinary Studies in Human Rights. Vol. 5. Cham: Springer. pp. 207–220. doi:10.1007/978-3-030-30469-0_12. ISBN 978-3-030-30468-3. S2CID 213580432. Retrieved 17 August 2021.
  43. ^ a b "Davos and its danger to Democracy". Transnational Institute. 18 January 2016. Retrieved 17 August 2021.
  44. ^ Corcoran, Terence (18 February 2022). "Terence Corcoran: In Canada, follow the money + the ideas". Financial Post. Retrieved 13 April 2022.
  45. ^ Bosley, Catherine (17 May 2021). "WEF Cancels Singapore Meeting as Pandemic Haunts Global Event". Bloomberg.
  46. ^ Pöschl, Fabian (25 June 2021). "WEF-Chef Klaus Schwab droht Davos wegen überrissener Preise". 20 Minuten (in German).
  47. ^ "WEF-Gründer Klaus Schwab kritisiert Davos scharf". Blick (in German). 24 June 2021.
  48. ^ a b c "NUS confers highest honour on World Economic Forum Founder and Executive Chairman Prof Klaus Schwab and social service champion Gerard Ee". Retrieved 26 November 2020.
  49. ^ "Klaus Schwab". Dan David Prize. 25 November 2021. Retrieved 25 November 2021.
  50. ^ "Honorary Graduates" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 17 December 2020. Retrieved 26 November 2020.
  51. ^ "Klaus Schwab to Receive Doctorate from KAIST University". Retrieved 26 November 2020.

External links