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:

Innovating on the cheapND

Lance Bettencourt and Scott Bettencourt, Harvard Business Review, June 2011

Investment in innovation is a difficult process, with success rates and short-term return rates being low. However innovation does have the potential to yield considerable success without considerable cost. To do so, managers need to be innovative in their approach to innovation. For example, many managers are fixated with the idea that innovations must be entirely new, and as such overlook previous discoveries that may carry market potential at a later time. Bundling products to sell together is another form of innovation, as is unbundling items that were previously sold together. For more information see

Organisational Health: The ultimate competitive advantageND

Scott Keller and Colin Price, Mckinsey Quarterly, June 2011

Organisations focus too much on financial performance and too little on Organisational Health (OH). OH is about building the capacity to learn and keep changing over time, faster and better than competition for exceptional performance. OH must be tailored to each company, considering its own history, external environment, aspirations, the passions and capabilities of its people. There are five common frames for organisation-wide change that deliver performance and health: aspire, assess, architecture, act and advance. These specifically include the development of a clear vision, assessing goal-feasibility, reviewing existing capabilities - just to name a few. A symptom of lasting, healthy change is when employees rethink their daily routine work life, to change for the better. For more information see

Why good companies create bad regulatory strategies ND

Andre Dua, Robin Nuttal and Jon Wilkins, McKinsey Quarterly, June 2011

Companies increasingly recognise the importance of government and regulators as stakeholders, and the impact that they have on corporate performance. However efforts to improve engagement with regulators often fall short due to a disconnect between internal and external perceptions. Challenges in shaping regulatory strategies include excessive optimism and a failure to consider issues from the perspective of policymakers. To address this, companies need to consider designing innovative methods to counter entrenched beliefs and ensuring managers are tracking and responding to emerging regulatory issues. For more information see

India’s decade of collaboration ND

Navi Radjou, Bloomberg Businessweek, 31 May 2011

Biocon is setting an example of Indian companies embracing Polycentric Innovation Models (PIM). PIM are collaborative global innovation networks aiming to translate intellectual property into commercial value. PIM comprises of inventors, transformers, financiers and connectors. Biocon has partnered with Pfizer to commercialise its insulin biosimilar products in non-overlapping markets and sources drug molecules from the Cuba-based Center of Molecular Immunology. The Indian government is encouraged to support such PIMs through trans-nationalising The National Innovation Council, setting up ‘connector’ hubs and utilising The Indian Ministry of External Affairs to initiate ‘innovation scouts’ in innovation hotbeds such as Taiwan. For more information see

Near, but so far away, PNG deserves attentionND

Richard Marles, Australian Financial Review, 27 May 2011

PNG is in the wake of rapid growth and change. It’s facing a greater mining boom, its economy is growing as fast as China’s and its population is projected to increase to 20 million by 2050. PNG provides us with 90% of Pacific Islands’ exports and our total annual trade is worth about $5 billion. Its political landscape will also change with the 2012 elections, bringing new leaders with new decisions. Australia’s relations with PNG are mainly focussed on military ties and there is opportunity to go beyond that. For more information see

RI aims to be ASEAN production centerND

Linda Yulisman, The Jakarta Post, 27 May 2011

The rattan-based furniture industry in South East Asia is set for a boost under plans from the ASEAN Furniture Industries Council (AFIC). AFIC hopes the move will strengthen the industry and restore competitiveness following poor export figures due to appearance of synthetic rattan. While Indonesia is by far the largest producer of rattan — contributing between 75 and 80 percent of world production — other ASEAN members hope to harness comparative advantages in areas such as design to enhance cooperation and joint ventures in natural-rattan products throughout the region. For more information see

The cosmopolitan corporationND

Pankaj Ghemawat, Harvard Business Review, 27 May 2011

The stateless company does not exist as the vast majority of corporates are deeply rooted in their home countries. Even those with foreign operations often maintain their comfort zones and invest in countries of similar cultures and languages. For those companies seeking to invest overseas it is important to consider the cultural, political, and economic impact of its investments and also understand their rooted distinctiveness. Conceptual frameworks such as CAGE (culture, administration/politics, geography, and economics) should be used to analyse foreign countries for investment. Employees also need to be immersed in the aspects of business in different regions. Also, intercultural networking should take place to soften ethnocentrism. For more information see

What the West doesn’t get about ChinaND

George Stalk & David Michael, Harvard Business Review, 27 May 2011

China is making impressive progress at stimulating domestic consumption as millions of its citizens achieve a recognizably middle-class lifestyle. Domestic demand is growing and unless overseas companies penetrate the increasingly affluent cities beyond the coastal fringe, domestic Chinese companies will come to dominate those markets. Multinational companies risk underestimating how quickly the Chinese market is developing, and how little time remains to establish a competitive foothold. The main challenge for companies is executing business strategies in a geographical landscape far larger than any home market within varying cultural contexts. For more information see

India’s scarce talent, rising wages, balky talents ND

Bruce Einhorn, Bloomberg Businessweek, 26 May 2011

Indian out sourcing companies are facing a labour shortage, which might threaten their position in the global market. Despite their being an increasing number of graduates entering the workforce, only a small percentage of these graduates are industry-ready. High-attrition rates following the recession, wage increases for new hires and job-hopping amongst experienced workers all factor in to the insecurity. As the Indian option becomes pricier, clients may start shifting to Southeast Asian and other locations, given the availability of talent and the reduced cost in these areas. For more information see

Indonesia’s success mixes opportunity with growth painsND

Aubrey Belford, NY Times, 26 May 2011

Indonesia is the largest economy in Southeast Asia. Their economy grew 6.1% last year and their consumption and commodity exports are also increasing. Moreover, foreign investment has increased by 52% in 2010 and last month, credit rating agency Standard & Poor’s was the last of the three big agencies to raise its sovereign debt rating to BB+. Indonesia is expected to reach investment grade next year. However, Indonesia must address transport and infrastructure concerns; flooding roads, archaic airports, severe congestion costing $1.5 billion a year and electricity shortages. For more information see

Masters of spin: PR belongs in B-school studiesND

Anthony D'Angelo, Bloomberg Businessweek, 26 May 2011

An executive's actions in a crisis can make or break a company however reputation and communication are still under¬priced in the market. Only 16% of prestigious MBA programs offer a single course in crisis and conflict management, strategic communications or public relations. This is despite the fact that reputation-wise companies have reaped favorable returns in product pricing, stock price, revenue stability, and customer loyalty. For more information see

India dangles aid carrot over AfricaND

David Smith, Sydney Morning Herald, May 25, 2011

India has stepped up its foreign Aid in Africa, recently promising technological and education aid as part of trade talks. The India-Africa partnership revolves around capacity building, skill transfer, trade and infrastructure development. Bilateral trade is aimed to reach $US70 billion by 2015 compared to $US46 billion last year. India’s attention is primarily on Nigeria, Sudan and Angola over the Middle East, with the hope of securing oil and uranium supply to meet its national energy needs as well as seeking support for a seat on the UN Security Council. For more information see

Energy independence not impossible for RI: officialND

Rangga D. Fadillah, The Jakarta Post, 20 May 2011

The Indonesian Energy and Mineral Resources Ministry has proposed four strategies to end the country’s reliance upon imported energy. The country hopes to re-establish energy independence by increasing exploration and production activities, improving energy-related infrastructure, developing unconventional oil and gas fields, and setting reliable and affordable energy prices. This announcement comes despite falling oil production and exploration activities. Industry representatives identified an expansion of gas production as essential to the country’s future energy security and called for a reduction in fuel subsidies in favour of incentivising renewable and alternative energy. For more information see

Missing links in Thai hub plan ND

Michael Mackey, Asia Times, 20 May 2011

Thai politicians are currently negotiating with China to establish a high-speed rail network to link the two countries and facilitate trade following the finalisation of the China-ASEAN Free Trade Agreement. Chinese concerns over political instability in Thailand have delayed the joint venture at a time when China is financing upgrades to port and rail facilities in Cambodia and Myanmar. Such projects will enhance the movement of both passengers and commodities in mainland Southeast Asia, but may render plans for a Thai transport hub obsolete. Thailand appears determined to challenge Singaporean dominance of regional shipping, constructing an US $8 billion “mega-port” in southern Myanmar, even as logistics companies warn Thailand lags behind in both airfreight and e-freight, and struggles to reform its Customs Department. For more information see

Leading across borders? Don’t change a thingND

Rajeev Peshawaria, Harvard Business Review, 16 May 2011

Management practice tends to teach executives that their management style needs to adapt and change in different cultural contexts. However experienced leaders have argued that successful leadership practices are universal. Characteristics of successful leadership practices that are applicable across different cultural contexts include having a clear sense of purpose, and ensuring that employee’s expectations regarding the nature of their role, the work environment and their professional development are in line with those of the organisation. For more information see

Asian focus turns to social responsibilityND

Mark Konyn, Financial Times, 15 May, 2011

Socially responsible investment in Asia is expected to rise following the announcement of China’s 12th five-year economic plan, which features numerous explicit references to environmental and social factors, and in the aftermath of the Japanese earthquake and tsunami tragedy. Although socially responsible investment funds in the region currently account for a small percentage of total investment, in light of recent events, the region’s institutional investors are paying greater attention to environmental, social and governance issues. This anticipated shift towards responsible investing would emulate similar moves in Europe and North America. For more information, see

Vietnam stays the nuclear courseND

M Goonan, Asia Times, 13 May 2011

Despite the recent nuclear disaster in Japan, Vietnam remains committed to its plans to construct 14 nuclear plants over the next two decades. The plants are to be constructed with Russian, American and Japanese assistance, and are considered essential to providing the additional generating capacity to sustain the country’s fast economic growth. The contrast between the planned modern nuclear plants and Japan’s older reactors has been emphasised to offset fears of potential future accidents. For more information see

Swap the management-speak for plain EnglishND

Simon Caulkin, Financial Times, 9 May 2011

Plain English is the most effective way of communication but it is scarcely used in business. Language reveals the insecurities and uncertainties within it. Haque suggests that vast marketing could act as a concealer, for instance the real cost of a hamburger may be nearer $30 than the $3 and ‘profit’ comes from subsidies, suppliers and Earth’s resources. The truth is rare in business. If company management is in a contradictory mess, their language reflects it. Plain messages only exist when company goals, values and behaviour are corresponding and such companies are comfortable with themselves, their customers and role in society — with nothing to hide. For more information see

Embracing trends in social networksND

Emma Boyde, Financial Times, 8 May 2011

Before financial service companies made any intentional entry into the online social network, they already had a presence via staff with profiles on LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook. However recently, financial service companies have strategically befriended the online social arena. Corporate Insight, an independent financial services research group found that none of the companies they tracked were on Twitter in 2008, but over half embraced it in 2010. Although investment isn’t cheap, requiring online teams and bloggers and regulatory and compliance barriers still exist — the social network is seen to have worthwhile value in the public relations space. For more information see

The big idea: the wise leaderND

Ikujiro Nonaka and Hirotaka Takeuchi, Harvard Business Review, May 2011

CEOs are facing a number of challenges, including managing in times of uncertainty and change and ensuring that employees adhere to their values and ethics. The key to dealing with numerous pressures faced by CEOs is to improve their knowledge; in terms of explicit knowledge, tacit knowledge and practical wisdom. While managers may be able to gain access to this knowledge, they must understand the purpose of their company so as to ensure that they make the right decisions. There are six abilities that leaders must have, which include the ability to make value-driven judgements and the ability to communicate effectively. For more information see

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