Welcome to the megatrends

Lava falling into the sea

The context of business has shifted significantly. What worked in the past for leaders and organisations no longer does – times have changed.

This new era is defined by multiple, far-reaching forces that impact individuals, society, the environment and business, both now and for future generations to come. We call these forces the megatrends.

There is consensus amongst businesses, governments and think tanks that there are around 14 global megatrends, each representing a fundamental change in the context of leadership.

Specifically, our extensive review of the literature revealed that the following trends are reshaping the business landscape:


Crucially, these are not predictions of things that may happen in 2040; these are trends that exist now and are gaining momentum. The question is, therefore, not so much “what will happen?” but “are we as leaders equipped for this environment?”

To help answer this question, we’ll be running a series of microblogs on the subject, one for each of the megatrends. These short blogs will give a brief account of what each megatrend is, what it might mean for businesses, and what leaders should be thinking about. They will also include further reading.

This page will be updated as each microblog is published, allowing you to navigate directly to a topic of your choice. If you want to learn more about our megatrend research, further information can be found in our white paper, The future is now: the new context of leadership.


[1] United Nations (2017). World Population Aging. Department of Economic and Social Affairs, Survey Report, retrieved from:

[2] Government Office for Science. (2016). Future of and ageing population.  Gov, foresight report, retrieved from:

[3] Shoham, Y., Perrault, R., Brynjolfsson, E., Clark, J., Manyika, J., Niebles, J.C., Lyons, T., Etchemendy, J., Grosz, B., and Bauer, Z. (2018). The AI Index 2018 Annual Report. AI Index Steering Committee, Human-Centered AI Initiative, Stanford University, Stanford, CA.

[4] Zhang, D. (2018). Big data security and privacy protection. In 8th International Conference on Management and Computer Science (ICMCS 2018). Atlantis Press.

[5] Rialti, R., Marzi, G., Silic, M., & Ciappei, C. (2018). Ambidextrous organization and agility in big data era: The role of business process management systems. Business Process Management Journal.

[6] Jakubik, M., & Berazhny, I. (2017). Rethinking Leadership and Its Practices in The Digital Era. Proceedings of Management International Conference, 45, 471-483.

[7] Simmons, K., Silver, L., Johnson, C., Taylor, K., Wike, R. (2018). In Western Europe, Populist Parties Tap Anti-Establishment Frustration but Have Little Appeal Across Ideological Divide. Global Attitude and Trends: Pews Research Centre. Retrieved from:

[8] Frost & Sullivan (2017). Start-ups Disrupting the Global Automotive and Mobility Industry, 2016–2017. Retrieved from:

[9] Hoffman, J. (2018). The Next Phase of Business Sustainability. Stanford Social Innovation Review, 33-39.

[10] YPO. (2019). Global Leadership Survey. YPO Survey Report, retrieved from:

[11] Lanvin, B. & Monteiro, F. (2019) The Global Talent Competitiveness Index 2019: Entrepreneurial Talent and Global Competitiveness. Insead report, retrieved from:

[12] CIPD. (2017). Resourcing and Talent Planning 2017. CIPD report, retrieved from

[13] Gerbaudo, P. (2018). Tweets and the streets: Social media and contemporary activism. Pluto Press.

[14] Rubin, J., & Carmichael, B. (2018). Reset: Business and Society in the New Social Landscape. Columbia University Press.

[15] The Economist. (2018). Making Space: Surviving the Sprawl. The Economist, Intelligence Unit.

[16] United Nations. (2018).  2018 Revision of World Urbanization Prospects. Population Division of the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UN DESA). Retrieved from:

[17] Alvaredo, F., Chancel, L., Piketty, T., Saez, E., Zucman, G. (2018) World Inequality Report 2018: Executive Summary. World Inequality Lab.

[18] Robinson, W. I. (2018). The next economic crisis: digital capitalism and global police state. Race & Class, 6, 77-92.

[19] World Economic Forum. (2018). The Global Gender Gap Report 2018. Retrieved from:

[20] Baker, A., & Lavery, S. (2018). Brexit and the future model of British capitalism. In Routledge Handbook of the Politics of Brexit (pp. 82-95). Routledge.

[21] Curran, E. (2018). The Biggest Political Risks to the World Economy in 2019. Bloomberg Economics article, retrieved from:

[22] Grooten, M. and Almond, R.E.A. (2018). Living Planet Report 2018: Aiming Higher. WWF, Gland, Switzerland.

[23] Esty, D. C., & Bell, M. L. (2018). Business Leadership in Global Climate Change Responses. American Journal of Public Health, 108, S80-S84.

[24] International Labour Office. (2017). Addressing the impact of climate change on labour. Policy development document, presented at the 329th Session, Geneva, 9–24 March 2017.

[25] Cilliers, J. (2008). Chapter 2 Megatrend One: The global shift of power from West to East. Institute for Security Studies, retrieved from:

[26] Smith, R. (2018). The world’s biggest economies in 2018. World Economic Forum. Article retrieved from: