Campus - 04.05.2012 - 00:00 

Wings of Excellence Award 2012

3 out of 100 students received the St. Gallen Wings of Excellence Award at the 42nd St. Gallen Symposium for their essays on the topic of “Facing Risk”. The prize is worth 20,000 euros.


4 May 2012. About 100 students from all over the world submitted essays on the topic of “Facing Risk” to qualify for participation in the 42nd St. Gallen Symposium. The authors of the best three essays received the St. Gallen Wings of Excellence Award. The winners come from Serbia, India and Germany. The jury was chaired by Georg F. von Krogh, Professor of Stratgegic Management and Innovation at ETH Zurich. The members of the jury included the radio presenter Dr. h.c. Peter Day (BBC News).

“Oscar for young researchers”

The jury awarded the winged “Oscar for young academics” to Jennifer Miksch (25) from Germany, to Caren Rodrigues (28) from India and to Jelena Petrovic (30), who grew up in Serbia. At present, Miksch is reading International Relations in Geneva, Rodrigues is working on her doctoral thesis at the Indian Institute of Management Bangalore, while Petrovic is working on a doctor’s degree in War Studies at King’s College London. Whereas in 2011, the Indian Kanan Amal Dhru shared the prize with the two Argentinians Marcelo Ber and María de los Ángeles Lasa, the award of the St. Gallen Symposium went to three women for the first time in 2012.

In their essays, the students focused on different aspects of risk. In her essay, prize winner Jennifer Miksch deals with the question as to the impact that risk aversion has on the willingness to set up one’s own business. In the study, the political scientist noted that entrepreneurship is still strongly influenced by gender stereotypes. Greater diversity among entrepreneurs could only emerge if the stereotyped attributions of risk aversion (female) and risk appetite (male) no longer represented an obstacle to a good business idea.

Education against nationalism in Serbia
Jelena Petrovic homed in on a dark chapter in the history of her country, namely the Balkan War and its traces in the collective memory of people in the region. “Nationalism is still very much present in Serbia: in families, the media, schools, sports and nightclubs, nationalist prejudices are palpable,” said Petrovic. The international community missed the opportunity to tie its financial injections to conditions, thus running the risk of being perceived as a voluminous purse. A reform of the educational system would be indispensable to stop nationalist tendencies with the help of factual knowledge and values. Language barriers between children from different ethnic groups and regions are also conductive to prejudices, which could be remedied in the classroom. “Only through education can peace be preserved,” wrote Petrovic at the end of her plea.

Caren Rodrigues dealt with the endemic mistrust in India, which prevents poor people from making use of their rights with regard to insurance and old-age provision. Corruption increasingly contributes to the erosion of the social contract in India, said the young management expert in her research work. “Impecunious and illiterate people in particular have a great mistrust in public institutions. They do not make use of government possibilities of security and provisions,” explained Rodrigues.

Risk aversion leads to dependency
The fear of government bureaucracy makes them dependent on corrupt private circles. Both the state and the economy, as well as non-government organisations, have so far failed to regain people’s trust by overcoming corruption. In analogy with the literacy programme “Each One Teach One”, Rodrigues pleads for the success of small steps: every educated citizen should use the resources at their disposal to help poor people to get their due. She declared herself in favour of a civil society movement for the restitution of the social contract between “poor and rich” and “young and old”.

Picture: Hannes Thalmann

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