The crisis has shown that it is a mistake to optimize company earnings in the short term at the expense of long-term growth. At Bayer we are in fact increasing our investment in research this year to 2.9 billion euros ($3.74 billion) - the highest research budget in the history of our company.
Sustainable success calls for sound business models and investment in the future. In the past, companies were too often concerned with maximizing their returns in the short term. We need to refocus on balancing the interests of all groups, including employees.
We need to stress the positive aspects of globalization. Over the past decades it has contributed to growth and to increased prosperity in many parts of the world. Now we have to find global answers to the crisis, and in particular we have to find a solution for the financial sector. We need a new and efficient framework.
Global harmonization is essential, because the financial markets don't stop at national boundaries. At the same time, we must not lose sight of the long-term challenges - I mean the major issues such as demographic change, producing enough food for the world's population and, of course, protecting the climate.
There was one point on which virtually all the participants agreed: addressing the challenges we face demands a global approach. If we all pull together, we can solve the problems.
Of course every government's primary aim is to safeguard jobs at home. And conditions vary considerably from country to country. Nevertheless, there are already signs of countries working together - the EU member states, for example, do discuss their actions with one another.
What we must avoid in the struggle to overcome this crisis is a resurgence of protectionism. And we must abide by the principles of the free market economy. Anything else would be disastrous in the long term.
The author is chairman of the board of management of Bayer AG
This piece is a statement made by him in the context of the World Economic Forum in Davos
(China Daily 02/10/2009 page9)