New study by ESMT Berlin shows political commitment increasingly important for CEOs

November 02, 2020

Political and social engagement is a relevant topic for European business leaders. CEOs are increasingly making public statements on political issues in order to make a positive contribution to socially relevant topics. These are the findings of a recent study conducted by ESMT Master's in Management graduate Christoph Cewe in cooperation with United Europe e.V. The study surveyed 40 leaders of large European companies. Of those surveyed, 77.5 per cent believe that managing directors should take a stand on political issues, and 62.5 per cent state that they are also (very) likely to express themselves in sociopolitical terms. The most frequently reported motives for taking a public stance are to contribute to society (78 %) and to express corporate values (72 %).

The study entitled "The political CEO: Rationales behind CEO sociopolitical activism" explores the question of how and why CEOs and managing directors of European companies increasingly take a public stance on political and social issues that have no direct connection to their core business. Examples are climate change, immigration policy and the unconditional basic income.

"The results of the study show that managing directors express themselves publicly, primarily on political issues, so that they can use their influence to make a positive contribution on socially relevant topics. Personal motives and potential advantages for shareholders do not play a greater role," says Christoph Cewe. "European CEOs want to add value to the substantive discourse with their public statement, but do not want to take a party-political stance. Thus, ecological, economic and social issues are identified as the most suitable topics for public comment. Less than one in ten of the CEOs surveyed stated that it is appropriate to take a party political stance in public.

Leonhard Birnbaum, member of the board of management of E.ON SE, Günther H. Oettinger, former EU commissioner and president of United Europe e.V., and Jörg Rocholl, president of ESMT, engaged in an intensive exchange on the study "The Political CEO" on Monday, October 26. "At United Europe we support business leaders who are committed to the European idea. For many European CEOs, political commitment is a relevant topic, but CEOs do not bear political responsibility. They must be able to maintain a balance between business competence, public credibility, and an understandable interest in social processes," says Günther H. Oettinger.

Jörg Rocholl adds, "Authenticity and competence are the most important prerequisites for a public statement by managing directors. Lack of credibility can have immediate negative consequences, not only for the CEO personally, but for the entire company." The discussion was moderated by Ulrike Guérot, professor for European politics and democracy research at the Danube University Krems.

ESMT Berlin

Related Leaders Articles from Brightsurf:

How narcissistic leaders infect their organizations' cultures
Like carriers of a virus, narcissistic leaders ''infect'' the very cultures of their organizations, leading to dramatically lower levels of collaboration and integrity at all levels--even after they are gone.

How scientific leaders can enact anti-racist action in their labs
A new paper provides 10 steps that principal investigators (PIs) and research group leaders can follow to help cultivate anti-racist professional and learning environments.

Children hold leaders primarily responsible, not entitled
Researchers explored how young children conceptualize leadership, specifically whether they view leaders primarily as more entitled individuals or more responsible individuals, relative to non-leaders.

Study: New leaders emerge as organizations go to virtual work spaces
The study found that in face-to-face gatherings, team members value those with 'classic' leadership characteristics, such as extroversion and intelligence, but in virtual settings, those qualities take a backseat to those who take action.

Leaders call for 'Moonshot' on nutrition research
Leading nutrition and food policy experts outline a bold case for strengthening federal nutrition research in a live interactive session as part of NUTRITION 2020 LIVE ONLINE, a virtual conference hosted by the American Society for Nutrition (ASN).

Randomly selecting leaders could prove to be a remedy for hubris
History shows us that power tends to corrupt; a team of Swiss and German researchers have recently examined historical examples of large-scale business fraud and misconduct at the highest-levels of government in order to highlight how leaders sometimes lose all sense of morality.

Infants expect leaders to right wrongs, study finds
Infants 17 months of age expect leaders -- but not others -- to intervene when one member of their group transgresses against another, a new study reveals.

Strongman leaders make for weak economies, study finds
Autocratic leaders are often credited with purposefully delivering good economic outcomes, but new research challenges that long-held assumption.

Government and NHS leaders could do more to encourage collaborative relationships between healthcare
The Nuffield Council on Bioethics has published a briefing note outlining the factors that can contribute to disagreements between parents and healthcare staff about the care and treatment of critically ill babies and young children.

In small groups, people follow high-performing leaders
Researchers at the NYU Tandon School of Engineering have cracked the code on how leaders arise from small groups of people over time.

Read More: Leaders News and Leaders Current Events is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to