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:

Glutted with graduatesND


The Economist, 3 November 2011

South Korea’s education fetish has sparked fears of an education bubble, as the country’s firms struggle to absorb the vast number of university graduates. As the highest rate in the OECD, eighty two per cent of South Korean high school graduates go on to university, prompting the government to discourage families from providing their children with a potentially financially crippling university education. Given that more than a third of Korea’s unemployed have been to university, President Lee Myung-bak is pressing large firms to increase their non-graduate intake. For more information see www.economist.com

China’s confident consumersND


Yuval Atsmon and Max Magni, McKinsey Quarterly, November 2011

The Chinese have embraced consumerism easily and despite rising inflation, consumers are confident about their financial future. Fifty eight per cent of respondents interviewed expected their incomes to increase in 2012. Additionally, more brands and more products are entering and becoming accessible in the Chinese market. Although growth differs between regions and products, the overall trend illustrated that people are increasing their spending in greater quantities and on more expensive products. For more information see www.mckinseyquarterly.com

How great companies think differentlyND


Rosabeth Moss Kanter, Harvard Business Review, November 2011

Great companies operate on the ‘institutional logic’ that they are an intrinsic part of society, like family, government and religion. They work for profit, but their core purpose is geared toward people and society. Institutional logic comprises of a common purpose, a long-term view, emotional engagement, community building, innovation and self-organisation. While institutional logic cannot be measured by conventional cost-benefit equations, it is a powerful driver of financial performance. For more information see www.hbr.org

How social technology is extending organisationsND


Jacques Bughin, Angela Hung Byers and Michael Chui, McKinsey Quarterly, November 2011

Many companies have already launched and have integrated multiple social technologies as part of their internal workplace tools, which are used internally and externally. Companies are also in the process of better understanding which types of social technologies suit different business processes. For instance, social networking and blogs are seen to fit best in externally focused marketing efforts. It is expected that in the next three to five years, the use of social technologies will significantly blur the boundaries between employee, vendor and customer relationships. However, as use increases there will be greater volumes of data that will provide better guidance. For more information see www.mckinseyquarterly.com

Social strategies that workND


Mikolaj Jan Piskorski, Harvard Business Review, November 2011

Facebook, eHarmony, Renren and LinkedIn all satisfy two basic human needs: meeting new people and strengthening existing relationships. While companies have Facebook pages with many ‘friends’, few have truly generated profits. Poorly performing companies on these social platforms have focussed solely on advertising and seeking customer feedback. Successful companies have helped people create or enhance relationships that would also benefit the company. For instance, Zynga produces free social games that made almost $1 billion this year. For more information see www.hbr.org

The demographics of coolND


Scott Berinato, Harvard Business Review, November 2011

Traditional categories and ways of understanding demographics are changing. Technology has helped illustrate that variables for defining demographic profiles are increasingly complex and there is an excess of data that has been collected, crunched, re-crunched and cross-tabbed. But sometimes, age, race, income and location don’t matter — only the mindset does. This refers to a distinct trendy culture people have embraced that influences the definition of ‘cool’. Understanding this takes a more qualitative approach and is important for guiding how companies can present themselves and their products. For more information see www.hbr.org

What marketers say about working online: McKinsey Global Survey resultsND


McKinsey Quarterly, November 2011

Despite widespread agreement regarding the high value of digital tools and technologies for marketing, many companies struggle to measure the return on investment and to capture customer data. This untapped resource requires structural change on behalf of organisations wishing to engage with consumers via technologies such as social media. A recent survey of marketing executives revealed that despite acceptance of the need for an improved online presence, many organisations are held back by a lack of internal leadership and adequate resourcing to develop better analytical capabilities, and thus better insights about customers. For more see www.mckinseyquarterly.com

Our own worst enemiesND


Louis Carter, Strategy+Business, 29 October 2011

To adopt best practice in workplace innovation and performance, a company needs to first identify what they are. A common mistake in sourcing best practice approaches by a company is to overlook those occurring within other companies externally. On the other hand, some executives erroneously assume that best practice comes only from big companies within their industry. Recent research has discovered that the most valuable practices can come from companies that are completely different, and this can lead to innovative competitive advantages. For more information, see www.strategy-business.com

China’s new protectionismND


Dexter Roberts, Bloomberg BusinessWeek, 27 October 2011

Local Chinese officials are at the forefront of a wave of new protectionism against Western businesses operating in China. As the slowing Chinese economy and competition hurts Chinese brands, officials are monitoring international companies more closely. In particular, Wal-mart stores and France’s Carrefour chain have been made to pay fines and deliver public apologies, by the Chinese government for some transgressions. This increased scrutiny by the Chinese government reflects the mounting competition among local and international firms for a share of China’s $70 billion-a-year market for large grocery stores, a figure that is expected to double by 2015. For more see www.businessweek.com

Our brains, our wallets: The field of neuromarketingND


Phillip Harris, Smart Company, 26 October 2011

While consumers like to imagine themselves as rational actors, capable of making decisions based on a reasoned cost-benefit analysis, growing research suggests that much decision-making occurs ‘below-the-surface’. These hidden, emotionally biased thought processes account for the long observed gap between consumers’ stated intentions and actual behaviour. Neuromarketing offers a range of new opportunities for marketers to target this area of decision-making but has been accompanied by controversy as ethicists express concern over the persuasive power of neuromarketing techniques. For more see www.smartcompany.com

Social media driving the growth of e-commerceND


Amit Bapna, The Economic Times India, 26 October 2011

Social media platforms are triggering greater social commerce across most categories. Deals on e-commerce sites get shared and re-tweeted creating more noise online. There is also increasing competition for online space between pure e-tailers and brick and mortar retailers who are moving online or have an online presence. The trend is also shifting in favour of group-buying sites establishing a new category of e-shoppers. It is questionable though whether too much crowding of e-tailers with little differentiation will lead to another dotcom bust. For more information see www.economictimes.indiatimes.com

Only your brand will save youND


Dorie Clark, Harvard Business Review, 25 October, 2011

The current period of international economic uncertainty has prompted many workers to speculate on their job security. An effective method for anyone unsure of his or her job security is to focus on personal branding. This involves cultivating a reputation as a reliable leader within the company, developing a passionate following of people who value your perspective, and becoming widely known and discussed. These measures represent an insurance against hard times. For more see www.hbr.org

Four ways to 'hear' your consumersND


G. Michael Maddock and Raphael Louis Vitón, Bloomberg Businessweek, 24 October 2011

Listening to consumers is the key to innovation success. Yet understanding what consumers need and want (identifying a hole in the marketplace) is the most difficult part of creating a new product. Even industry experts are vulnerable to selectively listening to consumers, which can lead to companies ignoring customer needs. In overcoming this engagement gap between producers and consumers, businesses must be willing to challenge entrenched beliefs about the market, re-engage with consumer expectations, and consult outside experts. Such methods foster an entrepreneurial perspective, creating opportunities to recognise new products, services, or business models. For more information see www.businessweek.com

National Survey of VolunteeringND


Volunteering Australia

Volunteering Australia is conducting its annual National Survey of Volunteering. Companies with employee volunteering programs can participate through the following link: http://www.volunteeringaustralia.org/html/s02_article/article_view.asp?article_id=4326&nav_cat_id=-1&nav_top_id=-1

When sorry is not enoughND


John Greenwood, The Wall Street Journal, 19 October 2011

How companies protect their brands depends upon the way senior managers respond to issues publicly. In recent times, there has been a shift where accountability to stakeholders is as important as accountability to shareholders. The Internet and social media channels can damage a company’s reputation significantly if a company’s senior management does not communicate effectively in the wake of a crisis. With CEOs considered more trusted than NGO representatives by members of the public surveyed, strong messages (and public apologies when needed) from CEOs are key to repairing or limiting damage. For more information, see www.wsj.com

It’s about information, not technologyND


Paul Taylor, Financial Times, 18 October 2011

Traditionally, business leaders outside of the technology sector have a limited understanding of their IT departments. It is important for CEOs to know about IT in a strategic sense as technology can offer better staff mobility and connectedness through online platforms. However, if CEOs aren’t aware of technology than their companies’ business models could be vulnerable to lack of innovation or strategic developments. For more information see www.ft.com

The tyranny of eventsND


William Lyons, The Wall Street Journal, 18 October 2011

For global companies with regional and local offices in countries with volatile socio-political climates, corporate responsibility for local employees has never been so important. Companies working in high- risk environments should undertake objective risk analysis on a regular basis and have emergency crisis plans in place. Corporations have an obligation to all employees to ensure their safety, and there is increased reputation risk for firms where they do not develop positive relationships with local communities, provide adequate security measures and approach potential corruption and political risk ethically. For more information, see www.wsj.com

Rising export prices from China add inflationary pressure to India ND


Smriti Seth, Times of India, 17 October 2011

China’s high inflation is triggering inflationary pressures in India. A third of India’s imported consumer goods currently come from China. India’s steady rise in interest rates has proven unable to offset the impact of the 15 per cent appreciation of the Chinese currency in the past six months and rising labour costs, resulting in increasing prices of China’s manufactured products. This situation reflects findings by the IMF that China’s supply and demand shocks have significant impacts upon its international trading partners. For more information see www.timesofindia.com

Mandarin has the edge in Europe’s classrooms ND


Stanley Pignal, Financial Times, 16 October 2011

Nine Belgian schools have recently commenced a pilot project promoting Chinese language learning. In the UK the teaching of Mandarin in classrooms has grown rapidly in the past 15 years, now the fourth most studied language behind French, Spanish and German. The US has also seen an explosion in the study of Mandarin, from one in 300 elementary school in 1997, to almost one in 30 in 2008. Perceptions of the growing economic importance of China and the country’s significance in the job market of the future is understood to be driving demand. For more information see www.ft.com

A quest for hybrid companies that profit, but can tap charityND


Stephanie Strom, New York Times, 12 October 2011

Hybrid not-for-profit and profit companies are partly designed for social benefit but also low-profit. Unlike for-profits, investors can prioritise social missions and can be funded by foundations. Unlike non-profits, conventional capital markets can be accessed. Hybrid companies have resulted from hard lobbying, and allow directors to do the right thing without facing the pitfalls of failing to maximise profits. Their business model attempts to synergise and combine the best of both worlds. For more information, see www.nytimes.com

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