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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:

China develops a learning habitND


Patti Waldmeir, Financial Times, 6 February 2012

Increasingly, businessmen and aspirant entrepreneurs in China are looking to pursue formal educations in business schools, as many believe they can no longer get by with on-the-job skills. MBA applications rose by twenty-five percent last year to ninety thousand according to the state news agency, Xinhua. A consequence of this trend is that there is no longer the rush to go overseas to study. One of the main reasons more Chinese entrepreneurs are seeking to study domestically is the recognition of the importance of having local business contacts. For more information, see www.ft.com

Innovation and creativity move to the heart of the curriculumND


Anjli Raval, Financial Times, 6 February 2012

Following the banking scandals of 2008-09, which saw the subsequent breakdown of trust in business, the US government, and business schools across America, have stressed the importance of investing in entrepreneurship, and many universities are devoting considerable resources towards increasing the focus on entrepreneurship in their business degrees. However, other schools say the increasing numbers of students opting to become entrepreneurs is not a reflection of the macroeconomic environment. A senior lecturer at the MIT Entrepreneurship Center notes that students are more focused on creating companies for the sake of it, rather than creating jobs. To create jobs, start-ups would need to grow by twenty percent a year. For more information, see www.ft.com

Seeking safeguards for unskilled workers abroadND


Eric Bellman, The Wall Street Journal, 5 February 2012

Indonesia, the Philippines and other developing countries are demanding more rights and higher wages worldwide for their unskilled laborers. Advocates are hoping the push for more rights for domestic workers will spread to other unskilled migrants as well. In home countries, politicians are starting to acknowledge the potential clout of the millions of maids and their families as an important block of constituents. They are quick to express outrage at reports of maid abuse abroad, and to threaten retaliation. Some countries, including India and the Philippines, are looking for ways to make it easier for their overseas workers to vote in elections. Tougher standards for more pay and protection for domestic workers also could curb demand in overseas countries. For more information, see www.wsj.com

What’s in store for China in 2012?ND


Gordon Orr, McKinsey Quarterly, February 2012

Nine predictions have been forecast for China’s growth in 2012: government policies will spur consumption and investment; dominant models will emerge for reforming rural land ownership; real estate will stagnate; the fundamentals will cause further inflation in food prices; Chinese investment in green technology will spike upward; accounting scandals will continue; Chinese acquirers will be bolder; the automobile segment will be slow; and hospital reform will accelerate. For more information, see www.mckinseyquarterly.com

The cost of reputation and trust: pricelessND


Steve Barrett, PR Week, 26 January 2012

Edelman's 2012 Trust Barometer contains some alarming findings for business and government leaders, and supports last year's prediction that the big issues would be around the relative positions of the 'haves' and 'have not’s'. This year's survey shows that governments and CEOs suffered their biggest drop in trust since the study started, over ten years ago. The only institution where trust increased was the media, with business, government, and NGOs all declining. Also, Edelman suggests the financial industry is only at the start of a reputation rebuilding process that will take ten years to complete. For more information, see www.prweek.com

McDonald’s Twitter campaign hijackedND


Tim Bradshaw and Alan Rappeport, Financial Times, 24 January 2012

In the latest example of how social media marketing can backfire, McDonald’s recent Twitter campaign was high jacked by opponents whose critical tweets forced the company to shutdown its Twitter account. McDonald’s had bought two promoted tweets from Twitter’s emerging advertising system thinking customers would share positive stories about their experiences at McDonald’s. Instead, most commentary responses were hostile. The company had a contingency plan in case of an event like this and responded quickly by closing the account to minimise increased reputational damage. For more information, see www.ft.com

Corporate giving: Executives aren't just writing checks anymoreND


Eleanor Goldberg, Huffington Post, 20 January 2012

Executives are increasingly choosing to engage their employees in volunteerism, rather than simply donating money to charity. A global survey conducted by Forbes Insights and HP surveyed three hundred executives about their giving strategies, and found that seventy-two percent said that they primarily make donations to charities that will allow their employees to volunteer. The rationale is that these charities both help companies to connect more with their communities, but also increase loyalty and even productivity amongst employees, who can pursue their passions and support causes they care about. For more information, see www.huffingtonpost.com

Firms with benefits: A new sort of caring, sharing company gathers momentumND


The Economist, 7 January 2012

The new ‘benefit-corporation’, also known as B-Corp, is a company that pursues strategies to benefit society as a whole, rather than focusing solely on profit maximisation. In California, legislation has been introduced to enshrine this concept. To qualify as a B-Corp in California, companies must demonstrate an explicit social or environmental mission, and a legally binding responsibility toward the interests of workers, the community, the environment, and shareholders. B-Corps are required to publish independently verified reports on social and environmental impacts in addition to financial results. Supporters believe that this type of legislation gives companies the freedom to reconsider their goals and provides more legal flexibility in the way they can conduct their business. For more information, see www.economist.com

Improving environmental performance in your Chinese supply chainND


Plambeck, Lee and Yatsko, MIT Sloan Management Review, 21 December 2011

Most analysts expect that multinational brands’ supply chains will face increasing scrutiny in the coming years. As nongovernmental organizations heighten their monitoring and the Chinese government enforces new laws to increase transparency and accountability, multinational corporations can expect growing pressure to run a clean supply chain. The five key factors identified for improving environmental performance of Chinese supply chains are: providing incentives for identifying, disclosing and addressing problems; collaborating with nongovernmental groups to facilitate monitoring and help Tier 1 and sub-tier suppliers self-identify problems; making use of improving Chinese government data to augment internal supply chain transparency efforts; working with multibrand forums to standardise Chinese supplier audit data at Tier 1 and subtiers; and encouraging environmental transparency as an efficiency tool. For more information see www.sloanreview.mit.edu

Sustainability nears a tipping pointND


David Kiron, Nina Kruschwitz, Knut Haanaes and Ingrid von Streng Velken, MIT Sloan Management Review, 15 December 2011

A global research study has found that more employees than ever before state their companies are putting sustainability on their management agendas. Yet, companies are also finding it difficult to define sustainability in a way that is relevant to their business. With the emergence of social media, companies are increasingly accountable for their green footprint and some are beginning to profit from their sustainability approaches. Companies found to have organisational support, operations, collaboration and willingness to change the organisational business model, are those with greater success than others in embedding sustainability in business practices and profiting as a result. For more information, see www.sloanreview.mit.edu

Get ready for China's innovation juggernautND


John Quelch, Harvard Business Review, 30 November 2011

China’s capacity to innovate should not be underestimated by western observers of the global innovation map. While much of China’s growth in recent decades has relied on imitating rather than innovating, this is set to change with the Chinese government’s latest five-year plan emphasising the need for long-term investment in research and development. Moreover, China’s competitive domestic market, increasingly high-quality higher-education system, well-trained scientists in the overseas diaspora and increasing funding made available for Chinese R&D centres by overseas multinationals, all indicate a highly innovative China may be just around the corner. For more see www.hbr.org

India opens doors to supermarket giantsND


James Fontanella-Khan, Financial Times, 24 November 2011

For the first time, India has opened its $450bn retail sector to foreign supermarkets, with the Indian government allowing foreign companies to invest up to fifty one per cent in multi-brand retailers. This is considered the most radical pro-liberalisation reform passed in a number of years. Analysts argue that the increase in the cap of foreign direct investment into retailers will assist with curbing India’s high inflation over the past year, however, concerns remain that food prices will remain high due to anticipated mark ups at farm gate prices. For more information, see www.ft.com

Who’s your brand’s Editor-in-Chief?ND


David C. Edelman, Harvard Business Review, 23 November 2011

The publication of continuous, customised and interactive content has become an essential tool to reach customers. The four most popular publishing approaches currently being utilised include the creation of content based on broad customer interest to appeal to a wide audience, the creation of content that makes consumers aware of an aspiration they had not previously considered, engaging with customers via social media’s now ubiquitous contest of ideas, and tailoring content to the individual. This final approach is rising in importance as information analytics demystify consumers and move each customer along the decision journey from evaluating to bonding with a product. For more see www.hbr.com

Five ways to make your brand culturally relevantND


Paul Jankowski, Forbes, 17 November 2011

Brands cannot solely rely on data alone to understand consumers. Cultural relevancy is crucial for brands to prosper for the long-term. Cultural roots, core values and traditions must be understood. Companies must define and understand their cultural audience, engage a cultural specialist, immerse employee within the environments in which brands are marketed — not only guided by insights — and acknowledge core values and languages spoken. For more information see www.forbes.com

Japanese firms rethink Thai focusND


Yumi Teso, Australian Financial Review, 16 November 2011

Japanese companies may choose to build factories in Indonesia and Vietnam and shift operations from Thailand, following country’s worst flooding in seventy years. Investment in Thailand is likely to cool as Japanese companies, Thailand’s largest foreign investors, reconsider the risks of locating electronic and automotive manufacturing in the country. Measures from the Thai government, such as improved drainage infrastructure, may be needed to restore investor confidence. Indonesia and Vietnam possess large populations and strong domestic demand, which make them appealing investment locations for Japanese firms. For more see www.afr.com

Picking brand names in China is a business itselfND


Michael Wines, New York Times, 11 November 2011

Translation of foreign product brand names into Mandarin and Cantonese is an important business decision with serious consequences for profitability. With China’s market from consumer goods growing by more than 13 per cent annually — and the sale of luxury goods by 25 per cent — Western companies are employing consultants, linguistic analysts and computer programmers to avoid naming blunders. These efforts recognise that, due to the Chinese reliance on characters to form words, rather than a phonetic alphabet, Chinese words carry highly nuanced meanings. For more see www.nytimes.com

Empower workers to drive successND


Henriette Rothschild, The Age, 10 November 2011

Employee enablement has been highlighted as the missing link to productivity from research conducted with more than 400 companies globally. Companies surveyed consider engagement levels important but this does not mean employees are enabled. Nine drivers of productivity have been identified for companies to encourage both enablement and engagement: clarity and direction; confidence in leaders; quality and customer focus; reward only the best; the ROI on reward; performance management; your workforce is critical; collaboration innovation; structure, work and processes; the role of culture. For more information, see www.theage.com.au

What can Web 2.0 teach us about CSR?ND


Wayne Visser, CSRwire, 10 November 2011

CSR has long meant corporate social responsibility, but the acronym might more accurately be labelled ‘corporate sustainability and responsibility’. Such a shift would recognise the transformation that has occurred in recent years as business redefines its role in society in an age of social media networks and user-generated content. These shifts include macro-level changes as paternalistic relationships between companies and the community based on philanthropy give way to more equal partnerships. At the micro-level, CSR no longer manifests soley as the luxury option, but as an affordable solution to those who desire quality of life improvements. Companies that find collaborative and innovative ways to tackle global challenges drive this new ‘CSR 2.0’, reaping rewards in the marketplace. For more see www.csrwire.com

Innovation and the fundamental changes in corporate responsibilityND


Diana Verde Nieto, Washington Post, 9 November 2011

Consumers are increasingly interested in companies’ sustainability and environmental responsibilities behind the products they are buying. Consumers realise that their purchases have a global footprint linked to the item’s production sources, methods and business practices. In response, more companies are offering transparency and investing in reducing their ecological footprint to have a positive impact on company reputation and consumer perception. Products are becoming leaner and greener resulting in greater accountability and boosted consumer confidence. For more information see www.washingtonpost.com

Women ascendent: Where females are rising the fastestND


Joel Kotkin, Forbes, 8 November 2011

Newly empowered by gains in political representation, legal rights, and education, women in the developing world are increasingly becoming business owners as economic conditions improve. Women are rising the fastest in Brazil, India, Vietnam and the Philippines, demonstrating a high degree of entrepreneurship despite being locked out of many opportunities in the job market due to cultural barriers. The trajectory of women’s progress, and with it the future of the ascendancy of women, is shifting from the developed to the developing world. For more see www.forbes.com

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