Events - 12.01.2015 - 00:00 

Growth versus simplicity

From 7-8 May 2015, the campus of the University of St.Gallen (HSG) will host the 45th St. Gallen Symposium. The English-language conference will deal with issues surrounding the topic “Proudly Small”.


13 January 2015. Is size the deciding factor in achieving great things? What size is ideal for enterprises? Why are small countries often successful? Guests include personalities such as Paul Polman (Netherlands), Chief Executive Officer of Unilever N.V., Anders Fogh Rasmussen (Denmark), former Secretary General of NATO, and Ulrich Spiesshofer (Germany), Chief Executive Officer of ABB Ltd. The list of speakers is continually being added to at

Striving to be bigger has permeated the history of mankind. Being small has always been a challenge for enterprises or countries. A manageable size can also be a strong point, however. In St.Gallen, the topic of “Proudly Small” will be examined for different aspects.

Growth versus simplicity

One aspect that will be investigated is the trend towards simplicity. Many people in the industrialised nations feel increasingly overtaxed by globalisation and digitalisation. The world around them has become too complex and too big for them to understand. Regardless of whether it is a matter of globally operating groups, rescue packages for banks and countries or the secret service surveillance programmes: many things have grown disproportionately in the last few years. This discomfits many people and prompts them to increasingly identify with smaller ideas. This is not only to the benefit of businesses with regional roots but also of political movements with national agendas.

Smallness has always been a challenge for a start, but this is not tantamount to weakness. In many areas, small is even an advantage. Thus small units are substantially more flexible than big ones. Normally, it is significantly more time-consuming and costly for a group with a thousand employees to change than it is for a medium-sized enterprise. As a rule, small companies are closer to their customers than big corporations, and in relative terms, they are significantly more innovative. However, smallness can also be advantageous to nations. In many rankings, small countries occupy top positions with regard to quality of life and per-capita income.

Cooperation between big and small

Every small unit will get into contact with bigger units. Often, small ones are at a disadvantage. Many start-ups are bought up by big corporations, and many small countries find it difficult to hold their own against bigger states. Even if it repeatedly happens that the purportedly small party gets the better of the bigger one, reality is not a matter of “David versus Goliath”. In reality, the small ones need the big ones just as the big ones need the small ones. How such cooperation works out, is open-ended.

Organised by the International Students’ Committee (ISC), the Symposium will bring together approx. 600 decision-makers from trade and industry, politics, society and academia with 200 students and young achievers from over 60 nations on 7 and 8 May 2015. Media representatives are cordially welcome. Please register. More information about the topic and format of the 45th St. Gallen Symposium can be found at

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