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:

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 blogs.hbr.org

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 www.businessweek.com

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 www.nytimes.com

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 www.businessweek.com

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 www.smh.com.au

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 www.thejakartapost.com.

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 www.atimes.com

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 www.hbr.org

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 www.ft.com

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 www.atimes.com

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 www.ft.com

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 www.ft.com

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 www.hbr.org

Effective research must be for the long haulND


Fred Hilmer and Les Field, Australian Financial Review, 4 May 2011

Australia’s future job prospects and prosperity is dependant on its ability to establish itself as a competitive, innovative nation, which in turn requires strong universities. While Australian universities rank well in certain aspects, they are significantly lacking in terms of innovation. One of the primary reasons for this lack of innovation is the structure of the research programs, with these programs being too short and ill-funded. To address this, Australia should begin supporting longer-term, significant research programs. For more information see www.afr.com

Japan confronts liabilities for crisisND


Yuka Hayashi, Wall Street Journal, 4 May 2011

There is an ongoing debate in Japan regarding who will pay the Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s growing liabilities following the nuclear disaster. Given the company’s role as a regional monopoly supplying power to a large percentage of Japan’s economic activities, the government cannot allow the company to go under. Although the government is set to release a plan for compensating victims of the disaster, some have called for more drastic government involvement, asking for the government to nationalise the company. There are also concerns over the extent to which taxpayers will be expected to support the company. For more information see www.wsj.com

Under the influence: how the group changes what we thinkND


Shirley Wang, Wall Street Journal, 3 May 2011

Researchers are studying the way in which human behavioural norms are established in groups with the hopes of applying this learning to realms such as health campaigning, marketing and reducing prejudice. The research has revealed a number of key findings; for example the recognition that innovators tend to be isolated from the group, but that ideas only take hold once a considerable number in the group have adopted the idea. Group pressure was found to be significant in influencing norms, as is the publicity given to the norm. The sharing of norms can however also lead to misperceptions, which can have the affect of altering the original norm. For more information see www.wsj.com

How to build risk into your business modelND


Karan Girotra and Serguei Netessine, Harvard Business Review, April 2011

Business model innovation has typically focused on three aspects of the value chain; revenue, cost structure and resource velocity. However it is important for leaders to understand the role of risk in their business models, and to devise methods of mitigating their risks. Some means of reducing risk include delaying production commitments, transferring risks to other parties and improving the quality of information relied upon. Additionally, leaders should recognise that there are significant opportunities to be gained by adding risk into a business model, in that it can drive innovation. For more information see www.hbr.org

Vietnam experience leaves sour tasteND


Stephen Wyatt, Australian Financial Review, 27 April 2011

Vietnam is currently witnessing a rapidly rising inflation rate, which is raising concerns for potential future political instability. While the political situation in Vietnam is currently stable, officials are wary of the instability that can be caused by rising food prices, recognising the situation in the Middle East as an example. While China’s inflation rate is likely to remain high, most economists believe that China will be able to control inflation while managing to maintain its projected growth levels. For more information see www.afr.com

China seeks bigger role in Australia economyND


Dinny McMahon, Wall Street Journal, 26 April 2011

China is seeking to expand its role in the Australian economy, particularly by moving beyond simply purchasing and cooperation towards a more collaborative approach to research, development and investment. Construction is one of the key areas to be targeted by Chinese companies, looking at the national broadband network, post-disaster reconstruction and transport infrastructure. However the political climate in Australia may not be amenable, with a 2009 Lowy Institute poll demonstrating that 57 per cent of respondents felt that there has been too much Chinese investment in Australia. For more information see www.wsj.com

Comparing Japanese and Chinese post-earthquake CSRND


Zheng Wei, CSR Asia, 26 April 2011

China and Japan have both experienced large-scale natural disasters in the past few years, however the response to CSR issues has been quite different. In Japan, business has been very creative in lending assistance to the disaster relief effort; providing products such as cars and mobile phones. However the Japanese government has come under criticism for its disaster response, resulting in decreased public faith in the government but increased public faith in business. In China, the government came under initial criticism for its disaster response, but later gained more support; and began facilitating methods for businesses to contribute to the disaster relief. For more information see www.csr-asia.com

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