Knowledge Centre:
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:

Business, CSR and sportsND

Esther Teh, CSR Asia, 1 August 2012

Sports have always been an influential channel in terms of reaching and engaging people from across the entire social and demographic spectrum. A growing number of organisations have implemented CSR initiatives that use sports as a means for social development. Sport emphasises the bond which sport can create between businesses and the communities they work for, and can involve employees and suppliers. This can enhance community connections and help to strengthen a sense of institutional belonging in addition to highlighting the sport itself. In Malaysia, the Government is enthusiastic about encouraging companies to adopt sports as part of their CSR through initiatives such as sponsorship to encourage participation in sport. However, in many cases, the CSR aspect is lost, as companies treat the opportunity more as a marketing ploy with little consideration for real social impact. For more information see

Remapping your strategic mind-setND

Pankaj Ghemawat, McKinsey Quarterly, 1 August 2012

Senior executives need better mental maps to navigate our unevenly globalised world. Although a wide variety of metrics show that just 10 to 25 percent of economic activity is truly global, executives disproportionately embrace visions of unbounded opportunities in a borderless world, where distances and differences no longer matter. A special kind of 'rooted' map can correct a common misperception: that the world looks the same regardless of the viewer’s vantage point or purpose. In the real world, geographic distance and differences in culture and policy matter. To better reflect this reality, rooted maps depict the world from a specific perspective and with a particular purpose in mind. They do so by adjusting the sizes or positions of countries in relation to a specific home country, while otherwise maintaining familiar shapes and spatial relationships, which can help fit these maps into our existing mental models. For more information see

European lenders take Libor scandal hitND

Patrick Jenkins, Financial Times, 31 July 2012

The spreading scandal over the manipulation of key lending rates and the downturn of Europe’s economy took their toll on two of the region’s leading investment banks, Deutsche Bank and UBS, which both revealed increased provisions and sharp profit falls. The dual impact of recent banking scandals, including the Libor affair, and struggling profitability has led to a crisis of confidence in the sector. Sentiment has been particularly bleak in Europe, amid growing anxiety that the eurozone crisis will worsen over the coming months. Though Deutsche made clear that no senior manager had been implicated in the Libor probes, Mr Jain said he would put renewed emphasis on ethical standards throughout the bank and “root out bad behaviour”. He also promised to be “at the forefront” of reforms to investment banker pay. For more information see

Claims, purpose-drive marketing and consumer trust – where are we in Asia?ND

Rikke Netterstrom, CSR Asia, 25 July 2012

The misrepresentation of many products and services as ‘green’, ‘ethical’, ‘sustainable’, including mis-selling and misleading claims is a major issue in Asian markets. However, in China, India, Indonesia and Singapore and Malaysia, 65% or more still trust business to ‘do the right thing’ – this is much higher than the global average of 53%. Implications for businesses who want to avoid losing trust and tap into the ethical and consumer- conscious market are two-fold: purpose-driven marketing require new products and services, and businesses need to step up accountability for claims. For more information see

How the forest product industry performs on CSR in China?ND

Brian Ho, CSR Asia, 25 July 2012

A conference was held in Beijing on 24 July to discuss how CSR should be promoted in the forest product industry in China. The China National Forest Product Industry Association (CNFPIC) was the organiser and five leading companies jointly released their first CSR reports during the conference. The reports have their own characteristics but also commonalities. They cover important issues such as ensuring the interests of investors, caring for employees, engaging with suppliers for development, meeting customers’ demands, protecting the environment, and promoting community development. They also mention the expectations and aspirations of various stakeholders, as well as how business communicates and responds to those expectations. The China Forestry Industry Association also attended the conference, and emphasised how its progress in social responsibility is significant to the overall healthy development of the forestry industry in China. For more information see

The odd ways we calibrate our outrageND

Michael Skapinker, Financial Times, 25 July 2012

Why are some more outraged about corporate scandals than others? Skapinker argues that while Barclays’ attempted Libor manipulation was ‘disgraceful’, GlaxoSmithKline’s behaviour was surely far worse. He suggests that there was more outrage over Libor as many felt it uncovered an insiders’ secret world. Hidden corporate misbehaviour comes to seem ‘normal’ to those engaged in it. Skapinker suggests that if everyone else is doing it, management seems to encourage it and it takes a brave soul to ask: ‘what would happen if the outside world knew what we were getting up to?’ For more information see

How companies can rewrite Burma’s story and avoid a repeat of history ND

Jeremy Prepscius, The Guardian, 23 July 2012

The changing political climate in Burma, particularly the temporary lifting of EU sanctions, means more foreign businesses will enter the Burmese market. Companies should learn from past market entry experiences – particularly that of entering Vietnam and Cambodia in the 90s. Companies need to engage in responsible corporate practices, and carefully consider their relationship with the Burmese government. There is opportunity for foreign companies to play an important role in positively shaping Burma’s future. For more information see

Silicon valley says step away from the devices ND

Matt Richtel, New York Times, 23 July 2012

Leaders in the technology are increasingly recognising the addictive properties of their inventions, and are beginning to encourage users to take a break from technology. Recent conferences have discussed the pervasive lure of technologies, and a widespread inability of people to ‘switch off’ from their devices. As part of this growing awareness, the Diagnostic and Statistics Manual of Mental Disorders plans to add ‘Internet-use disorder’ to their appendix next year – indicating the scale of concern surrounding people’s addiction to technology. These issues raise important questions about the extent of responsibility that the technology industry has in terms of creating addictive devices – a issue that is generating debate. For more information see

Aussie NFPs missing out on social media successND

Pro Bono Australia, 18 July 2012

Australian not-for-profits are yet to see the degree of fund raising and cause advancement success that organisations in Canada and the US have realised through social media. The finding comes in a report by Wirth Consulting, called the ‘State of Social Media Use in Australian Non Profit Organisations’. The report says that social media use among Australia’s not-for-profits is substantial, however, there is still room for growth. The report lists the top 19 organisations that are ‘doing well’. Factors analysed include: a modern website structure; number of fans, followers and subscribers; posts per week; customisation; and continuity in posting consolidated across all social media platforms. For more information see

The return of activist journalism in ChinaND

Haiyan Wang, Financial Times, 15 July 2012

Chinese journalism has changed greatly since the government decreed in the 1980s that the media could be partly privatised. A new generation of journalists sees its task as truthful journalism, exposing corruption and other crimes, and offering independent analysis of society. But investigative journalism in China was never independent and is less so now. Media exposés often result in punishment of officials responsible for corruption or for a miscarriage of justice: but the journalists who undertake the investigation are often punished too. Today, China is undergoing another transition: the state of society demands the return of activist journalism. In the past decade, reform-minded journalists have vigorously pursued so-called “investigative journalism”. This will be one of the front lines in this new age of political uncertainty. For more information see

In search of the hybrid idealND

Julie Battilana et. al., Stanford Social Innovation Review, 13 July 2012

In the first large-scale, quantitative study of social entrepreneurs, researchers from Harvard Business School and Echoing Green examine the rise of hybrid organisations that combine aspects of nonprofits and for-profits and the challenges hybrids face as they attempt to integrate traditionally separate organisational models. The study reviews four major challenges for integrating hybrid organisations: managing the legal structure; issues with financing; the 'customer' / 'beneficiary' dichotomy; and organisational culture and talent development. The study suggests that the hybridisation movement will be slow and gradual, as existing organisations are already embedded in models and stakeholder networks that constrain major strategic change. For full hybridisation to occur, for-profit and non-profit organisations and hybrid entrepreneurs need resources that align with their goal of creating both social and economic value. For more information see

Marks and Spencer’s emerging business case for sustainabilityND

Leslie Brokaw, Sloan Review, 13 July 2012

Five years ago, the UK retailer Marks and Spencer announced what it called Plan A, a commitment to tangible steps to make the company more sustainable. The company’s new 56-page “How We Do Business Report 2012" document details what the company has achieved in the past five years. Of its goals, the company has achieved 138 of its 180 commitments, with 30 ‘on plan’, 6 ‘behind plan’ and 6 ‘not achieved,’ according to the report. Highlights listed include: developing a convincing case for business sustainability, engaging suppliers in the plan, developing a sustainability template for expansion, becoming carbon neutral and the integration of sustainability into reporting. For more information see

MPs call for statutory lobbying register plans to be scrappedND

Matt Cartmell, PRWeek, 13 July 2012

In the UK, the political and constitutional reform committee published a report critical of the government’s plans, which exclude in-house lobbyists. The committee stated that the consultation paper is ‘lacking in clear intent’, and ‘only scratches the surface’ when it comes to tackling public concern about undue access and influence over policy making. There were also recommendation for the government to improve the level of detail in meeting disclosures, so that the actual topic of a meeting is disclosed rather than terms like ‘general discussion’. For more information see

A pact with the devil? The challenges of partnering with the extractive industryND

Will Henley, The Guardian, 11 July 2012

In the eyes of many, working with an extractive company is one of the most controversial things an NGO can do. The WWF distinguishes between subsectors. While it will refuse money from oil or gas, it is less rigid on certain types of mining. People need to recognise that many resources dug out of the ground such as ‘infinitely recyclable’ aluminium are not that bad, according to Patrick Laine, director of corporate partnerships at WWF UK. Laine insists that ‘there are projects that everyone should turn down’, adding that the right to criticise and full disclosure of the financial relationship will be two of the most important facets in any partnership it embarks upon. However there is now the growing belief that whatever the natural antipathy between an NGO and an extractive, collaboration between the two needs to take place. For more information see

Lack of measurement of Social Business Initiatives a Key IssueND

Leslie Brokaw, MIT Sloan Management Review, 9 July 2012

MIT Sloan Management Review’s recent survey on how companies use social business tools most frequently cite ‘a clear vision’ and ‘leadership’ as critical to adoption of social software. But on the other hand, the most common answer to the question ‘How do you measure social software use?’ is 'do not measure'. That suggests that an important resource is missing — measured results on just what, exactly, is going on in companies. The disconnect between the need for a clear vision and the lack of data to support it can mean that those who wish to step up their leadership in social collaboration don’t have the tools they might normally use to encourage action. Lack of management support is cited most frequently as the biggest barrier to adoption. For more information see

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

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

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

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

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

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