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:

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

A green solution, or the dark side to cleaner coal?ND

Keith Bradsher, The New York Times, 14 June 2011

Silos situated in the northern part of China are scheduled to begin operating in July of this year, with these silos being designed to blend cleaner-burning imported coal with China’s domestic, high-polluting coal. The result of this will be an increase in efficiency, while ensuring that China is a step closer to complying with environmental regulations. The reduction of the cost of blending as a percentage of the overall cost of coal over the past years, make coal blending a very attractive option. Critics worry that coal-blending as an option will replace investment in renewable energy. For more information see

India's inflation rises more than 9 per centND

Sumnina Udas, CNN, June 14 2011

India's inflation climbed to 9.06 per cent in May. India's Ministry of Commerce showed that an increase in inflation was due to an increase in prices of manufactured goods. It is predicted that the Reserve Bank of India will take further steps to increase interest rates, having a negative impact on investors. The Reserve Bank of India is meeting on the 16th and is expected to boost interest rates for the tenth time in 16 months. Although India is growing rapidly, it grew 7.8 per cent from January to March, the slowest pace in five quarters. For more information see

The rise in responsible careers ND

Elaine Moore, The Financial Times, 8 June 2011

The merging of sustainability interests with commercial interests has led to an increase in green jobs. More professionals are now also focusing on becoming green collar workers. Government support for sustainable endeavours is boosting this trend, as is the development of green opportunities within companies through the existence of sustainability teams. For more information see

Bonuses: Targets are linked to pay by early adoptersND

Rod Newing, Financial Times, 7 June 2011

The integration of Corporate Responsibility with core business strategy is being strengthened as companies increasingly link executive bonuses to the achievement of responsible business targets. Companies such as Tesco and Centrica have been early adopters of remuneration systems that incentivise the attainment of sustainable commitments. Organisational values are now more closely in line with community opposition to large bonuses for short-term financial performance, rather than long-term Corporate Social Responsibility targets. For more information, see

More responsible than CSR ND

Christopher J Tipler, Business Spectator, 2 June 2011

Big ideas that transform fundamental rules for business success are rare. However Professor Michael Porter (Harvard) has declared that the new ‘big idea’ is shared value. Rather than containing CSR as reactive governance to the needy, businesses must change their relations with the community, not at something ‘out there’ but an inclusive, strategic system to generate profit. Three ways of creating shared value include re-conceiving products and markets, redefining productivity in the value chain and enabling local cluster development. It’s about becoming what the community wants and what nature companies need to be. For more information see

How Web 2.0 pays off: The growth dividend enjoyed by networked enterprisesND

Jacques Bughin and Michael Chui, McKinsey Quarterly, June 2011

Efforts to incorporate social-Internet technologies, commonly termed Web 2.0, have the potential to produce a growth dividend in the form of increased market share. By embracing inter- and intra- company linkages employees and customers can become part of a powerful social network and broad knowledge base. The adoption of Web 2.0 technologies should be coupled with management innovation to maximise transformational impact, and bring outsiders, such as customers and suppliers, into the company value chain. For more information, see

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