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’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

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

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

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

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

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:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Social business is no longer optionalND

Chris Perry, Forbes, 12 October 2011

Successful use of social media can create a community of loyal advocates, but if done badly, businesses can brand themselves as inauthentic, out-of-touch and boring. Online reviews on products and services have become the key influence in purchasing. Currently, companies admit that an online presence is essential to brand reputation. However, a very small number consider their online efforts as ‘world class’. Businesses find it difficult to establish clear goals for social media strategy, assessing impact and complexity in navigating. Companies must maintain constant interaction with customers and understand their preferences in products, experiences and campaign ideas. For more information see

CEOs should activate their company’s stakeholdersND

Francis Gouillart, Harvard Business Review, 10 October 2011

The extensive networks of stakeholders that surround large companies (including suppliers, employees, distributors, and customers) represent a microcosm of the global economy. CEOs have the potential to trigger beneficial processes of collective engagement by organising theme-based communities along the value chain to facilitate interactions. This shift in thinking away from value-chain-centric views of business towards the creation and maintenance of multi-stakeholder communities holds the key to business success and is already being mobilised in emerging markets. For more information see

Latest game theory: Mixing work and playND

Rachel Emma Sullivan, The Wall Street Journal, 10 October 2011

International Business Machines Corp, Deloitte and Touch Tohmatsu and other comanies are applying social media in-house to make business tasks more engaging and to encourage collaboration between employees. Tasks such as management training, data entry and brainstorming are ‘gamified’. The concept is that employees receive points or badges for completing tasks within time limits and are then ranked on leader-boards. It is estimated seventy per cent of compoanies will introduce these or similar workplace practices by 2014. For more information see,

Breakthrough ideas for the talent war in Asia ND

Joel Backaler, Forbes, 4 October 2011

Expectations of aggressive growth in high-growth emerging markets in Asia are being obstructed by high attrition rates among key local talent. The intense demand for local talent has created a seller’s market, with aggressive recruiters offering significantly higher wages in order to headhunt new staff. This strategy has led to escalating wage costs and has prompted the need for more sustainable recruitment strategies. Successful attempts to overcome attrition have focused upon building local HR capacity, investments in localised talent engagement, and management commitments to ongoing innovation in HR tactics. For more see

The business of sustainabilityND

Sheila Bonini, McKinsey Quarterly, October 2011

McKinsey has found that larger numbers of executives are better-integrating sustainability goals beyond concern for reputation. Sustainability is approached more actively to improve operational efficiency and lower costs. But there is much room for improvement. Firstly, sustainability can be integrated into internal communications and engagement knowing that sustainability performance attracts and retains employees. Secondly, different industries use different levers (growth, return on capital, and risk management) so companies must identify the biggest opportunities for optimal value creation. Lastly, companies must factor sustainability into ‘hard’ areas of business, such as supply chain and the budget. For more information see

Return on influence, the new ROIND

Amy Jo Martin, Harvard Business Review, 27 September 2011

The meteoric rise of social media has given rise to the need for new metrics to measure return on investment for online marketing. The standard ‘cold metrics’ gauging such indicators as reach, frequency and page views are increasingly being augmented with ‘warm metrics’ which track engagement levels, viral factors, and sentiments. These seemingly intangible components of social media marketing and corporate online presence can be measured by dividing the total revenue generated via social efforts by the number of fans to determine a per-fan value. This approach has grown increasingly important for measuring the digital influence of brands and products in recent years. For more information see

A look back (and ahead) at social media’s impactND

Toby Daniels, Forbes, 22 September 2011

Social media is moving at lightening fast pace. In 2009 people weren’t so familiar with Twitter, LinkedIn was privately owned and Foursquare didn’t exist. In the past year, social media had been used for a range of activities from the Arab Spring Uprisings across Tunisia, Egypt and Libya organising protests and influencing public opinion, the London Riots, ends of careers with Anthony Weiner’s Twitter pictures, to watching Tsunamis real-time. We are in the midst of a transformation in communications methods as society and government, industry and economy are all affected. A new generation of digital leaders are building a network of intelligence on a global scale. For more information see

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

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