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News Digests

Stay abreast of what’s happening internationally with developments in corporate public affairs. Here is news that you may find useful and interesting:

The social sector needs to take more risk and accept failureND


Sir Ronald Cohen and William A. Sahlman, Harvard Business Review, 5 February 2013

Across the sector, there is a grave fear of failure and a low appetite for risk. There are social entrepreneurs that refuse to take even small risks as they start their ventures. It is visible it in the philanthropic institutions that fund them and expect predictability and nothing less. For social impact organisations to scale in the same way entrepreneurial tech companies do, investors need to increase their tolerance for non-moral failure. They need to foster a culture of innovation and risk-taking. The social sector needs to embark on an era of experimentation and innovation if it is to identify better ways of addressing social issues. Failure is inevitable and healthy. Impact investing needs to become the same. This is the only way foundations and other funders can maximize the social benefit from their assets, and move the needle on solving persistent social issues. For more information see www.blogs.hbr.org

Making time management the organization’s priorityND


McKinsey Quarterly, January 2013

Time scarcity is getting worse: always-on communications, organisational complexity, and unrelenting economic pressures are compounding an age-old challenge. With almost 50 percent of executives saying that they’re not spending enough time on strategic priorities, time challenges are a concern for companies, not just individuals. Key solutions to 'time scarcity' are as follows: 1) treat time management as an institutional issue rather than primarily an individual one, 2) establish a time budget and limit new initiatives when the human capital runs out, 3) beware of becoming so lean that you overwhelm managers; don’t stint on high-quality assistants to help manage executive time, 4) measure the time executives spend on strategic priorities and set explicit time-based metrics, and 5) use a master calendar to root out time-wasting meetings. For more information see www.mckinseyquarterly.com

What’s next for China?ND


McKinsey Quarterly, January 2013

China’s economy is shifting to a more consumption and service-driven model that should help sustain the country’s growth, albeit at a slower rate, over the next decade and beyond. New government policies will favour household income growth, improve the social safety net, and support the expansion of the service sector and private enterprises, especially small and midsize businesses. In particular, the accelerated rise of smaller cities will make a key contribution to growth: during the next two decades, the dozens of cities with current populations of less than 1.5 million will contribute 40 percent of the total increase in urban GDP. Cities with 1.5 million to 5.0 million inhabitants will contribute about 25 percent and existing megacities the balance. For more information see www.mckinseyquarterly.com

Entrepreneurial philanthropyND


Philo Alto, Stanford Social Innovation Review, 28 January 2013

The premise of the entrepreneurial philanthropy approach is distinguishing between your intended impact, which is personal, and social issues that can be objectively studied and addressed. The idea is that a more 'business-like' approach to philanthropy is more likely to efficiently address social issues than a personalised, perhaps more quixotic approach. In implementing such a methodology there are six steps to take: 1) study the social issue - it’s important to study how factors feeding into an issue interplay with each other and to identify their underlying causes before acting, 2) decide how to get involved - this involves several considerations, one of which is distinguishing causes from symptoms, 3) assess your time horizon of impact (i.e. long or short term) - this hones in the range of viable options available to you, 4) identify tipping points i.e. the likely triggers for public support, 5) decide what resources to employ, and 6) track your progress. For more information see www.ssireview.org

Trust building, the emergence of NGOs and purpose in AsiaND


Alan Vandermolen, Edelman, 27 January 2013

Edelman has released the Asia Pacific results of the 2013 Edelman Trust Barometer. One long-term trend that has continued is the increasing trust in NGOs in Asia. Since 2008, trust in NGOs in China has gone up from 48 percent to 81 percent. In addition, Asian markets (China, Malaysia, Hong Kong and Singapore) have four of the five highest trust ratings for NGOs globally. Among the factors driving the steady increase in trust for NGOs across Asia since 2008 are the following: increased recognition for – and greatly improved governance of – home-grown Asian NGOs, a much expanded middle class with plenty of choice in which brands they purchase and with expectations for how businesses and brands behave, and savvy use of social media by NGOs and consumers to drive dialogue on issues important to them. For more information see www.edelman.com

How banks should finance the social sectorND


John Canady, Harvard Business Review, 22 January 2012

Most traditional financial intermediaries, like banks, are focused on short-term returns and deem unsecured lending to charities and social enterprises to be too risky. As a result, charities and social enterprises do not have the cushion of external financing to manage their various capital requirements. But instead of trying to develop a convincing business case to provide unsecured lending to higher-risk charities, there are other models that could address this market failure. One such model would involve donor's philanthropic capital being "recycled" in the form of loans to different charities thereby achieving exponential impact over a one-off donation. 'Donations' are used to make an unsecured loan to a charity, and then once the charity has paid the money back, the same amount is then loaned out again to another charity. Hence, instead of making a one-off donation, if you invest through this model, donations are 'recycled' over and over and achieve a much greater impact. For more information see www.hbr.org

Even if it enrages your boss, social net speech is protected ND


Steven Greenhouse, New York Times, 21 January 2012

As Facebook and Twitter become as central to workplace conversation as the company cafeteria, federal regulators are ordering employers to scale back policies that limit what workers can say online. Employers often seek to discourage comments that paint them in a negative light, and violations can be a firing offense. But in a series of recent rulings and advisories, labor regulators have declared many such blanket restrictions illegal. The decisions come amid a broader debate over what constitutes appropriate discussion on Facebook and other social networks. Lewis L. Maltby, president of the National Workrights Institute, said social media rights were looming larger in the workplace. “No one should be fired for anything they post that’s legal, off-duty and not job-related,” Mr. Maltby said. For more information see www.nytimes.com

Redesigning knowledge workND


Martin Dewhurst, Bryan Hancock and Diana Ellsworth, Harvard Business Review, 16 January 2013

In today’s knowledge economy, competitive advantage is increasingly coming from the particular, hard-to-duplicate know-how of a company’s most skilled people: talented (and highly paid) engineers, salespeople, scientists, and other professionals. The problem is that across the private, public, and social sectors there aren’t enough knowledge workers to go around. In response, some firms are taking steps to expand the talent pool—for example, by investing in apprenticeships and other training programs. But a number of companies are going further: They are redefining the jobs of their experts, transferring some of their tasks to lower-skill people inside or outside their organisations, and outsourcing work that requires scarce skills but is not strategically important. The process involves several basic steps: identifying the gap between the talent your firm has and what it will need; creating narrower, more-focused job descriptions in areas where talent is scarce; choosing from various options for filling the skills gap; and rewiring processes for talent and knowledge management. For more information see www.hbr.org

Biggest kids on the block becoming bigger fans of social mediaND


Robert Berkman, MIT Sloan Management Review, 7 January 2012

The very largest corporations in America are showing “the first signs of really embracing a range of social media tools”, according to a new study undertaken at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth. The research examined how companies from the 2012 Fortune 500 list were using blogs, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Pinterest. A total of 139 companies, or 28% of the Fortune 500, had blogs. Those in the telecommunications industry had the most (40%); followed by commercial banks, specialty retail and utilities (25-30%). A total of 365 companies, or 73%, were found to have a corporate Twitter account. The food/consumer products industry had the most, with 93% of its firms on Twitter. A total of 330 companies, or 66%, had a Facebook account. That represents an 8% increase over the previous year. Industries with the greatest presence on Facebook were specialty retail (89%); consumer products (86%); and telecom (80%). For more information see www.sloanreview.mit.edu

How to create brand engagement on FacebookND


Arvind Malhotra, Claudia Kubowicz Malhotra and Alan See, MIT Sloan Management Review, December 18 2012

A recent study of 98 global brands identifies factors that increase — or decrease — the chances of consumers “liking” commenting on or sharing a company’s Facebook posts. The research identifies eight ways brand managers can increase the number of likes a post receives, as well as five common mistakes that prevent messages from being liked. One technique that drove comments to wall posts was posing questions. When brands asked, people answered. There was a sense of talking back to the brand. The report concludes that Facebook is becoming a critical element of any organisation’s marketing strategy, and that there are clear techniques that exist to leverage wall posts more effectively to generate greater propagation and richer conversation — and to convert more consumers into brand advocates. For more information see www.sloanreview.mit.edu

Breaking down corporate philanthropyND


Katarina Persic, Pro Bono Australia, 12 December 2012

Corporate philanthropy must satisfy three key stakeholder groups: the local community, employees and shareholders. Toyota Australia has designed a model of philanthropy that is based on this design. As such, it manages three distinct investment funds for each stakeholder group. It's Social Investment Fund, for which the key stakeholder it identifies as the Toyota Motor Corporation parent company, requires Toyota factories to contribute to Not For Profits in the areas of environment, traffic safety and education. Then there is the Disaster Relief Fund / Workplace giving fund, which encourages employees (key stakeholder) to make a private choice of what charity they want to support. Third, there is the Local Council and Community Fund, which states that each Toyota factory must contribute to their local community in the way that they believe is appropriate for their circumstance. For more information see www.probonoaustralia.com

Profits and CSR closely linked - reportND


Pro Bono Australia, 12 December 2012

A global survey of corporate social responsibility executives within the Fortune 1000 organisations has revealed that profits and CSR are closely linked, and many businesses evaluate the relationship between these two variables when developing strategy. When evaluating motivations behind CSR policy, results signal that the primary motivation behind CSR initiatives lies in the company’s reputation (88%), followed by the company’s competitive positioning and social consciousness (71%). Significantly, profitability (38%) and pending or existing legislation (32%) were determined to be motivating factors. The study also sought to determine the level of importance of the views of specific audiences, both internal and external, when creating and measuring the results of CSR strategies, as well as specific issues that CSR initiatives often focus on. For more information see www.probonoaustralia.com

First look: 2012 Sustainability Survey findingsND


Nina Kruschwitz, MIT Sloan Management Review, 11 December 2012

The results are in for the fourth annual sustainability and innovation survey, conducted by MIT Sloan Management Review in collaboration with The Boston Consulting Group. One key finding is that North American companies are still lagging considerably in the integration of sustainability. Compared to companies in other countries, they have the lowest rate of business model innovation, and the fewest business model innovators who said that sustainability activities added to their profit. Also, developing countries and emerging markets had the highest rate of innovation and profiting from sustainability. They were also increasing their commitment to sustainability at the highest rate. Furthermore, asked which sustainability trends were most critical over the coming three years, energy scarcity and price volatility topped the list for every country and region. For more information see www.sloanreview.mit.edu

Fire revealed a gap in safety for global brandsND


Jim Yardley, The New York Times, 6 December 2012

112 workers were killed in a blaze last month in Bangladesh that has exposed a disconnect among global clothing brands, the monitoring system used to protect workers and the factories actually filling the orders. After the fire, Walmart, Sears and other retailers admitted that they did not know that Tazreen Fashions - the company who operated in the factory - was making their clothing. For more information see www.nytimes.com

How to help employees ‘get’ strategy ND


Charles Galunic, Harvard Business Review, December 2012

Embedding company strategy in employees is an important aspect of employee engagement. A study conducted for the purpose of determining what strategies best embed company strategy with employees examined 60 000 responses to an employee satisfaction survey. There were some intuitive findings - for example that senior employees are more likely to understand and agree with company strategy. However, the study also concluded that long-term employees don’t necessarily have a better understanding of company strategy. It was found that the most important factor in embedding business strategy amongst employees was the perception of and trust in top management, which suggests that business leaders need to make efforts to engage frequently with their employees. For more information see www.hrb.org

Capturing business value with social technologiesND


Jacques Bughin, Michael Chui, and James Manyika, McKinsey Quarterly, November 2012

This study examined the use of social technologies in hundreds of organisations around the world to provide a basis for modeling potential improvements across the value chain. One of the key findings was that using social technologies to improve collaboration and communication within and across companies could raise the productivity of interaction workers by 20 to 25 percent. In the area of 'consumer packaged goods', it was found that interactive product campaigns that deploy social technologies can increase the productivity of advertising expenditures by as much as 30 to 60 per cent. It was also estimated that the professional services and advanced manufacturing could yield significant productivity and efficiency gains from greater use of social technologies. For more information see www.mckinseyquarterly.com

How ‘social intelligence’ can guide decisionsND


Martin Harrysson, Estelle Metayer, and Hugo Sarrazin, McKinsey Quarterly, November 2012

This article explores four distinct ways social technologies can augment the intelligence-gathering approaches of companies. While the impact of social media on 'identifying priorities for exploration and decision-making' is relatively limited, the study suggests that the areas of the 'intelligence cycle' affected significantly are: gathering data, synthesizing and analysing data, and communicating data. It concludes that the information that companies need to meet competitive challenges is moving quickly from published and proprietary sources to the open, chaotic world of social platforms, and that navigating this new environment effectively will require new skills and a willingness to engage in social conversations rather than merely assemble information. For more information see www.mckinseyquarterly.com

New ways to engage employees, suppliers and competitors in CSRND


Betsy Blaisdell (Timberland Llc), Interviewed By Nina Kruschwitz, MIT Sloan Management Review, November 2012

Betsy Blaisdell is senior manager of environmental stewardship for Timberland LLC. In a conversation with MIT SMR’s managing editor and special projects manager Nina Kruschwitz, Blaisdell talks about the company’s “Voices of Challenge” website area, the environment “nutrition label” it’s developed for its footwear, and its partnership with 60 plus apparel and footwear brands, retailers, suppliers and NGOs to develop a an environmental index called the Higg Index. The interview touches on the development of, as well as measurement and reporting of sustainability and CSR metrics. In integrating a sustainability focus into the company, Blaisdell discusses the importance of considering the 'triple bottom line' - environmental, sustainable and financial. Within social and environmental responsibility, Blaisdell's approach is to focus on the 'four pillars' - corporate footprint, product footprint, community service and building sustainable environments. For more information see www.sloanreview.mit.edu

Why boards need to changeND


Edward Lawler and Christopher Worley, MIT Sloan Management Review, Fall 2012

The authors argue that corporate boards are not able to provide the leadership required for companies to be successful in their sustainability and CSR endeavours. Boards need executives who understand the impact of organisations on its stakeholders, environment and society, rather than just recruiting those who are knowledgeable about financial performance. Boards also need more information in order to lead and evaluate sustainability performance. Shareholders also need more information. Performance goals should be set so that the board can hold management accountable. Boards might also consider changes to committee structures, such as has occurred at Unilever where there is a corporate responsibility and reputation committee that has oversight of the company’s efforts and reputation. For more information see www.sloanreview.mit.edu

Think twice before tweetingND


Ian Sanders, Financial Times, 31 October 2012

The average executive has a growing array of digital options to communicate with their organisation, clients and other audiences. Senior executives increasingly feel under pressure to become adept at rapid digital communication, from dealing with emails to responding to tweets. The problem for executives is not just the speediness demanded by electronic communication, but the number of platforms on which brands and businesses need to get their messages out fast. Online campaigns, Facebook brand pages and viral videos must be conceived, created and delivered in hours or days just to keep pace. That creates greater pressure for diligence in a rapid production process. In the rush to communicate digitally, executives need to remind themselves that a sloppily produced report, presentation or blog post can detract from the message. For more information see www.ft.com

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