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:

China in transitionND

Sheridan Prasso, Strategy and Business, 19 September 2011

China is transitioning into a consumption driven economy rather than an export-led one due to the middle class. Ching Li, director at Brookings Institution stated that the Chinese middle class were a powerful source of political, economic and social stability and their problems became government problems and could affect the entire world. Despite high inflation, high property tax and increasing unemployment, the top two fastest-growing areas of consumption in China were religious tourism and pet care products. The service sector (healthcare, consulting, and environmental products) have many opportunities for growth. Government leadership will also be changing in 2013. For more information see

China as an innovation nationND

John Kao, CNN, 12 September 2011

China has more university graduates as engineers and scientists than the U.S. and China now accounts for 12 per cent of global research and development spending. The country’s leaders plan to increase the portion of its GDP devoted to R&D from its current level of 1.6 per cent, to 2.5 per cent by 2020, and has emphasised the importance of innovation with its latest 5-year plan. Whereas the U.S. has traditionally been considered the world’s preeminent ‘innovation nation’, this title may not remain America’s alone as China mobilises its resources in a pervasive and innovative way to promote a range of strategic industries. For more information see

China wage rises bring shift in productionND

Rahul Jacob, Financial Times, 6 September 2011

Production is shifting from China to countries with lower wages such as Thailand, Bangladesh and Vietnam. Growing demand by factory workers in China for higher wages has resulted in an increase of the minimum wage, prompting some multinational companies to spread labour-intensive manufacturing across Southeast Asia. However, as China invests in cutting edge infrastructure and continues to see productivity improvements in the workforce, the manufacturing giant will remain a highly competitive and attractive location for production. For more information see

A clear approach to connect sustainability to competitive strategyND

Eugene Tay, Green Business Times, 1 September 2011

Five core elements of a clear model to approach competitive sustainability strategy include crafting a sustainability strategy that has a clear definition of ‘sustainability’ and an understanding of how stakeholders are directly impacted. To implement this strategy, it is advised a central team should lead management efforts. Cross-department committees, stakeholder advisory panels and board-level oversight are required to embed sustainability in value-chain activities. Analysing and communicating sustainability through well-designed metrics will assist in delivering outcomes and sustainability management efforts can be renewed consistently for ongoing success. For more information see

Asia-Pacific leads the world in smartphone use: Google/Ipsos studyND

Emily Tan, Campaign Asia, 1 September 2011

Google and Ipsos found that smartphone and overall mobile penetration in the Asia-Pacific was the highest in the world. Most users in this region are first-time users and while they don’t use their smartphones as much as the US in searching, socialising and sharing videos— usage will rise in the near future. Japanese, Korean and Singaporean customers are already heavy users and online mobile shopping is widespread in Thailand, Singapore and Indonesia. The region is a gold mine for app developers and as usage grows, demand for broadband will reach about 1.6 billion connections by 2015, pushing operators to deliver better services. For more information see

Australia’s three CEO blindspotsND

Ken Boundy, Business Spectator, 25 August 2011

Australia underestimates three important strategic themes. Firstly, companies don’t fully understand the impact of China in terms of it becoming the largest consumer, a creator of technology and in need of primary resources. Secondly, few ASX 200 companies are integrating environmental responsibility with growing profitability. Thirdly, they must recognise the need to embrace digital technology-based innovation. CEO of Deloitte Digital stated that any corporate leaders indifferent to technology changes; social media, cloud computing, mobile devices and data are irresponsible of leadership and governance. There is much work to do. For more information see

Turning your customers into advisorsND

Morey Stettner, Chief Executive, 25 August 2011

Customers’ opinions are paramount for companies to upgrade sales. Many entrepreneurs are forming Customer Advisor Boards (CABs) to engage their customers to address problems beyond product feedback and influence big-picture strategic issues affecting the company’s future. It is important that companies recruit the right mix of diverse customers who have budget authority, are in senior positions and set direction for their employers. It is about listening and learning, not selling with the 80/20 rule and CEOs talking less. CAB benefits can be measured via customer satisfaction scores, streamlining issues and increased sales. For more information see

Competing for the Global Middle ClassND

Edward Tse, Bill Russo, and Ronald Haddock, Strategy & Business, 23 August 2011

The global middle class is now comprised of around 400 million people in developed countries, and between 300 to 500 million people in emerging economies. This vast market demands goods, services and infrastructure and offers unprecedented and lucrative opportunities for goods and services companies. Competition in this market has revolved around local upstarts, global aspirants and multinational incumbents as each seeks to take advantage of the growth of emerging middle classes. For more information see

How to invest ethicallyND

Bina Brown, Australian Financial Review, 5 August 2011

More people are investing in companies that engage in activities beneficial to society and the environment, and are being rewarded with high returns. The Responsible Investment Association Australasia reports ethical adviser portfolios grew from $972 million to $1.46 billion in 2010 and responsible investors in Australia made better returns than investors in mainstream funds over one, three, five and seven years. People are choosing to invest responsibly because of improving investment returns from companies with good cultures and environmental strategies, concern for the wellbeing of future generations and because they want to invest in accordance to their values and beliefs. For more information see

Intelligence lost: The boomers are exitingND

Robert F. Brands, Bloomberg Businessweek, 5 August 2011

The retirement of the Baby Boomer generation (born between 1946 and 1964), could lead to sizeable losses in intellectual capital unless business leaders act. Knowledge management will be increasingly important in the US as the ‘best educated, most highly skilled’ workforce in US history exits the workplace. No business can ignore this ongoing ‘war of intelligence attrition’, and given the importance of the many years of hard data and know-how held by retiring baby boomers, organisations should prepare a comprehensive strategy for sharing and documenting information before it is lost. For more information see

Understanding your globalisation penaltyND

Martin Dewhurst, Jonathan Harris and Suzanne Heywood, Mckinsey Quarterly, August 2011

While overseas emerging markets can be an attractive incentive for company expansion, McKinsey research has found that local champions have been far more successful compared to their global counterparts and have addressed organisation health, direction setting, coordination and control, innovation and external orientation much more effectively. Global companies can at times find it difficult to share uniform vision across regions, maintain professional standards, facilitate innovation and build strong government and community relationships. It is a constant challenge to balance local adaption against global scale, scope, and coordination even amongst the highest performing global companies. For more information see

New offices go carbon positiveND

Alexandra Cain, Australian Financial Review, 28 July 2011

With rising electricity prices and the carbon tax, a favourable response is being demonstrated among developers with an increasing trend towards carbon positive buildings. New buildings are including energy-producing systems, such as tri-generation — the simultaneous production of electricity, heat and cooling systems from one source. Stockland reported that the combination of tri-generation and photovoltaic technology will generate 70 per cent of the energy its Shellharbour shopping centre will use. Caroline Pidcock, founder of Pidcock Architecture and Sustainability, echoed the values in David Owen’s book Green Metropolis, advocating a compact community with little ecological footprint as the ‘next extension of sustainability’. For more information see

Designing a China business frameworkND

Robert Lawrence Kuhn, Chief Executive, 8 July 2011

Many foreign CEOs seeking to enter the Chinese market have assumed that China’s transformation into a market economy equates to Western-style business. What is most important is to understand China’s unique structure, culture, economy and especially its political characteristics. Chinese government policy directs the strategic fundamentals of all Chinese businesses, so foreign companies must align themselves to the government agenda if they want to succeed. Questions regarding China’s economic and political future, leaders, government and media should be examined carefully. For more information see

Column: Evolve (again)ND

Rosabeth Moss Kanter, Harvard Business Review, July 2011

Companies should work to empower young people - sources of fresh thinking. Ventures in universities sparked the custom-built personal computer in the 1980s (Michael Dell, the University of Texas, Austin), internet portals in the 1990s (Jerry Yang and David Filo, Stanford), and social networks in the 2000s (Mark Zuckerberg, Harvard). Encouraging free investigation can produce highly valuable returns and continuous evolution will prevent a bloody one. Due to adaptive evolution with new technologies, radio coexists with television and newspapers are still alive. However companies that cling to old business models that once brought success and deem new ones as incompatible will fall behind. For more information see

Hitting your growth targets in AsiaND

Joel Backaler, Bloomburg Businessweek, 27 June 2011

The spotlight for the world economy is on Asia and pressure is building for Western Multinational Companies (MNCs) in this region to make greater sales. However, business isn’t easy in Asia with staff needing to understand the local market and culture to drive sales. Some tips to increase chances include offering local staff unconventional incentives to stay on board such as paying off workers’ cars in China — which is considered a major aspiration. Second, internally publicising key performance indicators to promote healthy competition and offering internal staff training. Lastly, allowing staff to work as a team in problem-solving, reaching sales goals and hiring experts to further staff development in their sales field. For more information see

Study: Negative comments worsen the public’s view of a companyND

Kevin Allen, PR Daily, 22 June 2011

During times of crisis, organisations should respond to negative comments or risk considerable decline in reputation. Researchers at the University of Missouri found that people are most affected by victimised individuals’ comments on organisations rather than from unaffected sources such as news articles. Organisations should make efforts to respond by contacting the user directly, replying to a post, or removing comments from the site. In sum, organisations need to monitor their ‘online presence’ as negative messages posted by individual victims are more likely to lead to boycotts. For more information see,

Indian investors avoid ‘political’ stocksND

James Lamont, Financial Times, 21 June 2011

The recent string of corruption scandals in India have prompted investors to avoid investing in companies with strong political links. Such companies include those that have direct political involvement or that are dependent on a government license. India is one of the most heavily regulated economies in the world, and this trend has a significant impact on the stockmarket. For more information see

Pioneers who beat the oddsND

Sydney Morning Herald, 18 June 2011

There are many good ideas for new products and businesses, but not everyone can convert them into profitable fruition. Deloitte’s Director of innovation Matt McIntyre found several common traits among successful entrepreneurs; passion, persistence, experience, good at networking, sales and marketing — with mentors who complement their skills. While money is not the main driver, it is necessary to implement their ideas. Abigail and Jamie Forsyth, founders of KeepCup saw a need to save the environment from plastic. National Australia Bank put their name to the cup and incorporated the investment into their sustainability program. It’s no longer ‘putting money in and standing back’ McIntyre said, but investors’ involvement can range from consulting, to 100 per cent hands on. For more information see

Four phrases that can undermine a spokesperson’s credibilityND

Michael Sebastian, PR Daily, 15 June 2011

Barbara Gibson, a social media trainer and former chair of the International Association of Business Communicators, discovered that there was a significant difference between being open and honest or being perceived to be. Her informal study of spokespeople revealed that greater use of ‘honesty-related’ verbal crutches such as ‘let's be clear’, ‘to be perfectly honest’, ‘frankly’ and ‘just between you and me’ in fact heighten the level of suspicion of the speaker’s honesty. Psychologist Dr. Susan Fletcher stated these phrases act as cues to attract extra attention, and regardless of the content of what is being communicated, induce suspicion. However, without an official study Gibson’s theory remains unproven. For more information, see

Is charity work a must-have on executive CVs?ND

Natasha Stidder, Financial Times, 15 June 2011

Some companies in the US will not even consider candidates unable to show a record of volunteering. Is Szoneberg, director of volunteering charity CSV says skills in conflict resolution, leadership and negotiation can be gained through volunteering. TimeBank and Reed Executive’s recent survey on 200 leading UK businesses found employees committed to voluntary work developed new skills and 94 per cent of them progressed to receive a promotion or pay rise. With companies more attentive to CSR, voluntary work is part of the corporate strategy, an individually satisfying experience and an inspiration to colleagues. For more information see

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