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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:

Corporate social responsibility in Japan: family and non-family business differences and determinantsND


Bruno Amann et. al., Asian Business and Management, 7 July 2011

This article seeks to address two main questions: whether family and non-family businesses differ with their CSR policies, and what are the main determinants of CSR in Japan. This article addresses these differences and explores the main determinants of CSR in Japan, using a sample of 200 Japanese firms. In contrast with previous research, it was found that the characteristics of either family or non-family businesses do not influence CSR policies in general; however, when they do (for example, in human resources management), the influence is less strong for family businesses. It was also found that firm size and innovation inclination are explanatory factors for CSR, supporting prior research in contexts other than Japan. For more information see www.palgrave-journals.com/abm

Singapore: new code of corporate governance puts responsibility for sustainability in the board roomND


Erin Lyon, CSR Asia, 4 July 2012

In May 2012 the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) issued a revised Code of Corporate Governance. It is a set of principles of good corporate governance aimed at companies listed on the Singapore Exchange (SGX). The Code adopts a principles-based approach in the sense that it provides general guidelines of best practice, in the same as governance in the UK. This contrasts with a rules-based approach (e.g. in the US) which rigidly defines exact provisions that must be adhered to. The main change in the revised code is the addition of the rule that companies must ‘consider sustainability issues, e.g. environmental and social factors, as part of its strategic formulation’. For more information see www.csrasia.com

Beyond McDonald’s CSR in China: corporation perspective and report from case studies on a damaged employment reputationND


Marc Valax, Asian Business and Management, 3 July 2011

This article analyses csr in the fast-food industry in China, with a focus on McDonald’s Corporation. The study addresses the following questions: how McDonald’s employer reputation and CSR campaigns in China develop; how they are expressed in a Chinese organisational context; and through what processes might a CSR approach improve employee performance and business success in the fast-food industry. The research illustrates significant differences in the values, attitudes and beliefs that managers and workers personally hold and what they encounter in the workplace. In China, McDonald’s has also faced the challenge of improving the perception of the career opportunities it offers and made efforts to undo the negative reputation of low paying jobs. The article explores theoretical implications and proposes some suggestions for improving CSR in fast-food management in China. The results show that improvements in business performance in this industry should be allied to real CSR. For more information see www.palgrave-journals.com/abm

CSR in China: domestic enterprises outshine MNCsND


CKGSB, Forbes, 3 July 2012

The Sichuan earthquake (May 2008) provides an example of rising community expectations of companies and the different approaches of local and multi-national companies. Initially, some MNC’s first donations did not surpass RMB 5 million (USD $790,000). Seeing this as paltry in light of the destruction inflicted by the earthquake, Chinese consumers started to boycott many of their products. On the other hand, Guangzhou-based JDB Group made a generous surprise donation of RMB 100 million for recovery efforts, and people immediately flooded online forums urging consumers to buy up Wong Lo Kat, a popular canned tea made by the company. This disaster forced foreign firms to increase the amount that they donate in order to keep up with community expectations. For more information see www.forbes.com

How to make the tax man pay for philanthropyND


Michael Bailey, BRW, 3 July 2012

Australia has created its 1000th private ancillary fund, a vehicle legislated 11 years ago to make philanthropic giving as tax-effective and efficient as possible. However, there is limited understanding of private ancillary funds, which is part of the reason Australia still lacks a philanthropic culture to rival that of the United States, according to funds managers. Gifts to charity in the US amounted to just over $US290 billion in 2010. This figure was $200 million in 2010 in Australia, well short of the $20 billion of charitable gifts we’d need to make to be as generous as Americans, based on the population difference. Cuffe argues that tax breaks for charitable donations explain this in part. For more information see www.brw.com.au

Lobbying regulation: a global viewND


Matt Cartmell, PRWeek, 21 June 2012

The UK lobbying industry is awaiting plans forta statutory register. PRWeek’s analysis of lobbying regulation shows that the main benefit of the EU system is that registering and signing the code of conduct allows lobbyists to get a parliamentary pass. This system is generally well liked by UK consultants. The US system is widely viewed as the most rule-bound and complicated system in the world, while it is argued that the UK has tended to work best through peer pressure. Australia's Lobbying Code of Conduct operates a relatively light-touch statutory register for consultants alone, rather than in-house lobbyists. For more information see www.prweek.com

No better time to get LinkedInND


Garry Browne, Business Spectator, 21 June 2012

There are a number of tips for using Linkedin that many business owners and executives may not be aware of. First, LinkedIn is highly optimised for search and a completed profile will rate as one of the highest results in an online search. This means that LinkedIn offers an opportunity for business owners to ensure those who do search for their company will see the information they want them to see first. Second, there’s a definite advantage in being one of the first in their sector or area to create a LinkedIn company page, as research conducted by LinkedIn has found that people generally don’t follow the LinkedIn pages of more than 2.5 companies per sector. Third, LinkedIn provides a unique recruitment opportunity with real ROI. Companies are able to segment their LinkedIn followers by a range of variables such as industry, seniority, job function, company size, non-company employees, and geography. For more information see www.businessspectator.com

Sustainability-focused companies outperform their peersND


Mara Chiorean, CSR Asia, 13 June 2012

A recent Harvard Business School study shows that sustainability-focused companies outperform their peers. According to the data, investing $1 in the beginning of 1993 in a portfolio of High Sustainability firms would have grown to $22.6 by the end of 2010. In contrast, investing $1 in the beginning of 1993 in a portfolio of Low Sustainability firms would have only grown to $15.4 by the end of 2010. High Sustainability firms also perform better when considering return-on-equity (ROE) and return-on-assets (ROA). This performance differential may be explained by the fact that companies with a strong sustainability culture are able to attract the best talent, establish reliable supply chains, avoid risk related to boycotts and community conflicts, and use innovation as a way to gain competitive advantage. For more information see www.csrasia.com

Untapped talentND


The Economist, 7 June 2012

A recent McKinsey report has demonstrated that employment of women in upper management and company board positions in Asia is lagging far behind the West. One reason for this is because there are less women in the formal Asian workforce, which also reflects wider gender disparities in levels of education. Despite these statistics, reports indicate that Asian managers don’t tend to see gender disparity as a priority. This perhaps presents an opportunity for firms that are willing to recruit women in upper level positions – as it is makes it easier to recruit qualified women. A 2011 study has however indicated that one third of Asian executives are worried about their ability to recruit and retain qualified staff in the next two years – a concern that could possibly lead to greater employment of women in upper level positions. For more information see www.economist.com

Social Business: what are companies really doing?ND


David Kiron et. al., MIT Sloan Management Review, May 30 2012

MIT Sloan Management Review recently conducted the 2012 Social Business Global Executive Study and Research Project. Some of the key findings are: managers surveyed believe that social software will become increasingly important to their organisations during the next few years; most respondents believe that successful social business activities require leadership but acknowledge that their organisations are not measuring social software use; by using social tools, small companies are demonstrating that they can appear larger than their actual size while large companies can appear less like corporate behemoths; and energy and utilities, manufacturing and the financial services sectors expect that social business will become five to six times more important to their organisations in three years. For more information see www.sloanreview.mit.edu

Microsoft is going carbon neutralND


Matthew Guenther, CSR Asia, 23 May 2012

Microsoft announced plans to implement a carbon management plan that will reduce the company’s greenhouse gas emissions to zero by the end of fiscal year 2013. Microsoft will introduce an internal price on carbon that is equal to current market rates. Two other companies with a carbon neutral commitment are HSBC and News Corporation. Both have achieved this through the purchase of carbon offsets. What makes Microsoft’s approach different is that it places the burden of responsibility to reduce carbon emissions on each of its business units. Through an extensive and detailed carbon management system, developed by CarbonSystems, Microsoft will hold each of its business units accountable for every metric tonne of carbon emitted. At the end of the fiscal year every business unit will be required to pay for the carbon it emits. The money will go towards a global pot that Microsoft will use to purchase carbon credits or renewable energy credits. For more information see www.csr-asia.com

CEOs who delivered the most and least bang for the buckND


Joan S. Lublin and Dana Mattioli, Wall Street Journal, 21 May 2012

A Wall Street Journal analysis of compensation data for 300 top U.S. companies assembled by Hay Group found that while pay generally tracked performance last year, some CEOs delivered far more bang for the buck when it came to shareholder returns. One company that saw its shareholders realise much bigger gains than their CEO in 2011 was Oneok Inc, where shareholders saw a total return of 61 per cent for the year, while the CEO’s pay rose just 22 per cent. On the other hand, many companies saw total compensation for their CEOs in 2011 rise significantly more than the return on their shareholders' investment for the year. CEO pay gains that march too far ahead of shareholder returns have become an issue in now-mandatory "say on pay" votes that let investors express a non-binding opinion on a company's executive compensation policies. The Journal's analysis is a reminder that pay-for-performance, while gaining traction, remains patchy. For more information see www.wsj.com

China's start-ups hold global change potentialND


Benjamin A Shobert, Asia Times, 19 May 2012

Multinationals from developed economies are coming to recognize that China’s innovative capacity, while admittedly very niche-specific and not without its own limitations, is growing. Throughout China, companies such as Tsing Capital and Chrysalix Venture Capital are building successful venture capital funds built around Chinese entrepreneurs who have ideas of their own, whose initial commercial success is likely to be wholly within China, but whose concepts represent a potential next wave of innovative technologies that could impact the world at large. Many of these ideas challenge the conventional wisdom that China is forever caught in the "copy" paradigm. If China's heavy-handed and centrally planned approach to fostering a more innovative business community actually works, it will be yet another situation where Beijing has proven it can successfully bridge the gap between accepted practices in the West and its own legacy issues. Conversely, should China be unable to develop a meaningful innovative capacity, it may well be one of the early signs that China's economic growth has gone as far as it can until deeper cultural and political issues are resolved. For more information see www.atimes.com

The greening of the Chinese banking sectorND


Chris Ye, CSR Asia, 16 May 2012

Banking may not be the most polluting industry in the world but it does have an impact on the environment through its investment and loan decisions. It is interesting therefore that eight Chinese NGOs have jointly published the report on the Environment Record of the Chinese Banking Sector (2011), which records, evaluates and keeps track of the environmental performance of 16 Chinese commercial banks. The report finds that the Chinese banks are improving significantly when it comes to information disclosure and loans management. Perhaps most importantly, the report finds that Chinese banks are gradually reducing loans for companies with high energy-consumption and/or significant pollution. Many of them are now actively seeking out environmentally responsible investments and are expanding the scope for “green loans”. Whilst there is still a lot to do Chinese banks are increasingly aware of the environmental challenges that we face and are beginning to see the environment as an important part of their risk management. For more information see www.csr-asia.com

How to engage your customers and employeesND


R Wang, Harvard Business Review, 9 May 2012

Most customers now ignore targeted marketing campaigns. Instead, potential customers interact with each other, bypassing corporate messages devoid of meaning or value. As a result, organizations around the world are rushing to engage with their customers and employees. Successful engagement requires nine key components, in three broad categories: people-centric values, delivery and communication styles and the right time drivers. The 'values' category includes: a culture of digital readiness and an inclination to participate, a community that focuses on stakeholders, and credibility that is earned through trust. Effective 'delivery and communication style' is achieved through better understanding of the means of delivery, the type of content delivered (e.g. user-generated, paid, analytic) and the frequency of engagement. The 'right time drivers' include: the context of delivery, catalysts that inspire people to action and currencies that influence people through an exchange of value. For more information see www.blogs.hbr.org

Art of successND


Stephen Shore, Capital magazine, April 2012

Deutsche Bank is the education partner of the Museum of Contemporary Art. The bank reckons that modern art captures its values of creativity and thinking differently. The MCA board chair, Simon Mordant, says professional services firms support the MCA because of its atmosphere and location. Beyond the Quay, the Art Gallery of NSW has also proved a popular networking sport over the summer. Banks and law firms booked out private tours of the blockbuster Picasso exhibition five nights a week over the past four months. JPMorgan and Ernst & Young were major sponsors of the Picasso exhibition, and Mallesons celebrated its merger with Chinese firm King & Wood there. For more information, see www.afr.com

Integrity through integrationND


Sally Rowse, Capital Magazine, April 2012

Finance chiefs and their teams dedicate much of their working lives to producing reports. It used to be that this burden was limited to monthly, quarterly and yearly financial statements. However, in recent years this has grown to include environmental, social and governance (ESG), or sustainability, reporting. Now, integrated reporting aims to replace the proliferation of non-statutory reporting with one holistic snapshot that makes it easier for different stakeholders to jump straight to the information most important to them. The International Integrated Reporting Council (IIRC) is leading the development of a global framework. In companies in which there has been a successful implementation of integrated reporting, it has been suggested that this reflects a corporate strategy that recognises genuine relationships between corporate citizenship and financial performance over the medium to long term. For more information, see www.afr.com

CIPR calls for debate on lobbying definitionND


Matt Cartmell, PRWeek, 26 April 2012

The Chartered Institute of Public Relations (CIPR) has urged the Government to consider a further phase of its consultation into public affairs that focuses on how lobbying should be defined. The deadline for submissions to the Cabinet Office's consultation on 'Introducing a Statutory Register of Lobbyists' was completed last Friday, and now minister for political and constitutional reform Mark Harper is considering the submissions in order to develop a white paper. However, on 18 April, CIPR CEO Jane Wilson wrote to Harper to suggest that 'having a workable definition will not only set the scope of the register, it will ultimately determine whether or not it succeeds in delivering the Government's own objective of improving transparency in the lobbying process. To support this call, the CIPR has commissioned law firm Berwin Leighton Paisner to draft a five-page definition, which starts with the point that it should include all activities that are designed 'to influence government or other official policy'. For more information see www.prweek.com

Barely a bloggerND


Jessica Gardner, BRW, 25 April 2012

Business bloggers have a problem. BRW has tried to find the best chief executive blogs but from a survey of more than 20 social media consultants, marketing executives and digital gurus, praise for CEO blogs was tellingly absent. Only five respondents identified as a must-read an Australian individual blogging as the face of a business. Indications are that blogging doesn't rate highly on CEOs' radars. Social media experts suggest that they are missing out on an opportunity to establish thought leadership. Social media consultant Lauran Papworth says that to take the leap in to blogging, CEOs need a vision for their industry, and they need to be brave passionate - qualities which she suggests are lacking amongst Australian CEOs. For more information see www.brw.com.au

China slows down, and grows upND


Ruchir Sharma, The New York Times, 25 April 2012

More than half of Americans think China is already the world’s leading economy — an astonishing misperception, given that China’s gross domestic product is still less than half of America’s. Now, however, there are signs that China’s growth is slowing. It is well known that developing nations hit a “middle-income trap,” and stop catching up to rich nations, when per-capita income reaches about $5,000 to $15,000 (in current dollars). What is less known is that even those rare economies that broke through the middle-class trap started to decelerate after reaching a per capita income of around $5,000 (in current dollars). This process is under way in China, and it signals a basic power shift in the global economy. A collapse in China to zero percent growth would be disastrous for the world economy, but it is unlikely, in large part because Chinese leaders understand that the current slowdown is inevitable. For more information see www.nytimes.com

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