DEFINITION of 'World Economic Forum'

The World Economic Forum is an organization headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland that brings together its membership on a yearly basis to discuss major issues concerning the world. These include but are not limited to issues of politics, economics, social and environmental concerns.

BREAKING DOWN 'World Economic Forum'

The World Economic Forum’s membership features a cross section of representatives from the private and public sector, and include some of the most prominent CEOs, ambassadors, public figures, media personnel, government officials, religious leaders and union representatives from around the world.

Founded in 1971 in Geneva, the current World Economic Forum has a mission based on what is known as stakeholder theory. Stakeholder theory offers a proposal that while a private sector entity’s role is to increase profits for its shareholders, it is contingent upon the organization to view the rest of society as having a stake in the company’s actions.  Stakeholders such as employees, customers the company serves, and the local and global community are to be considered in making key decisions.

Funding of the 'World Economic Forum'

The World Economic Forum is funded by its own membership, which includes industry leaders from companies with at least $5 billion in yearly turnover, as well as individuals from all walks of life, including celebrities, journalists and interested individuals willing to pay annual dues and meeting fees to attend. Regional meetings are held in developing nations such as Africa, East Asia, and Latin America, but the annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland is the central meeting event for all members.

World Economic Forum meetings serve the purpose of introducing new issues, trends and organizations to membership and the public for discussion, and are believed to help evolve corporate and public sector agendas for future decision making. The World Economic Forum also produces research into areas of interest to its members, and helps to guide public-private sector collaboration and communication among its membership.

Annual Meeting of the 'World Economic Forum'

The World Economic Forum annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland attracts about 2500 persons from over a hundred countries. The Davos meeting is generally covered by the world press whereby past Davos meetings have allowed government leaders from around the world to address issues of political conflict with one another, raising the stature of the yearly meeting to that of a political as well as an economic forum. This was an early vision of Forum founder Klaus Schwab, a professor of business at the University of Geneva, whereby the Forum could assist with global conflict resolution in addition to promoting its own best practices in business management. Schwab now serves as the Executive Chairman of the World Economic Forum.

Headquartered in Geneva, the World Economic Forum also has offices in New York, Beijing, and Tokyo, but in 2017 announced a new office in San Francisco.  The most recent annual meeting in Davos was held in January of 2018, and its theme was titled Creating a Shared Future in a Fractured World.

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