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:

Consumers at the wheel of IT strategy developmentND


Michael Bayer, Financial Times, 1 November 2010

Consumer-driven demands, the emergence of new cultural attitudes to work and advances in mobility-enabling technologies have allowed consumers to directly influence IT strategy development. Technology companies are increasingly recognising the dynamics that connect business and the consumer, and are harnessing this dynamic as a business opportunity by framing their products as ‘business productivity tools’, for example the iPad. Companies that recognise this dynamic and take advantage of the connection between business and the consumer will experience positive benefits. For more information see www.ft.com

Green marketers are still sinningND


Andrew Winston, Harvard Business Review, 29 October 2010

The green marketing research firm Terrachoice recently conducted a study of products claiming to be green, and counted how many of them had committed any of seven ‘sins’ as defined by Terrachoice. The sins include making vague claims such as being ‘all natural’ without providing any proof as well as stating irrelevant details. Amongst the findings, Terrachoice discovered that although there are a rising number of green products, the vast majority of them are committing at least one ‘sin’. The study also found that categories of products that have a longer history of green certification tend to commit less ‘sins’ than products in categories that have only recently been subject to green certification standards. For more information see www.hbr.org

Bet on India, not ChinaND


Raghav Bahl, Forbes, 27 October 2010

China is today investing nearly half its GDP, something that is unprecedented in modern history. It is important to understand that China has strong investment in infrastructure; these life-enhancing assets actually empower people. India is also a country that is investing heavily, yet it has a very attractive mix of services and manufacturing. India saves a great deal of its GDP and is mostly built from private enterprises (with state-owned corporations accounting for less than a tenth of output). Finally, India is in a sweet demographic spot with half a billion Indians being less than twenty-five years old. For more information see www.forbes.com

Shaky foundations to China’s growthND


Dalibor Rohac, Asia Times Online, 21 October 2010

Although much research has been done concerning the macroeconomic aspect of China’s economic development, little attention has been paid to the microeconomic aspect. A survey conducted by the Legatum Institute has uncovered some underlying problems in the microeconomic aspect of China’s rapid economic growth; namely the fact that China’s entrepreneurs function in and are hence largely dependent on state-run mechanisms to support their economic success, as opposed to personal or familial support relied upon by entrepreneurs in India. This state reliance could be a source of fragility for entrepreneurs, who may encounter difficulties in the wake of a major crisis where the government’s capacity to provide support is lessened. For more information see www.atimes.com

Macau job rules don’t workND


Muhammed Cohen, Asia Times Online, 19 October 2010

The Macau government has recently introduced tighter regulations for hiring non-residents, signifying a crackdown on foreign workers and forcing employers to give precedence to local employees. The regulations have however faced strong opposition, with employers arguing that they now have difficulty finding qualified employees, as well as delaying existing construction projects and thus slowing potential economic growth. The regulations are criticised for not adequately addressing the underlying problems in Macau, which require better qualification of the local workforce and increased inflows of labour. For more information see www.atimes.com

India: the future of management education?ND


Tim Westerbeck, Bloomberg Businessweek, 17 September 2010

India has recently witnessed a huge growth in demand for management training, which has consequently led to growth and innovation in its business school sector. Currently, India is in a position to become a global leader in management education, learning from the mistakes of the West to create an innovative business education sector. There are six ideas that India needs to follow to reinvent management education and become a global leader; these being the need to introduce cross-disciplinary education programs, to design their business schools as global institutions, to create strong ties with businesses, to utilise technology-based learning, to ignore the established ranking criteria and to use innovation to deliver all forms of management training. For more information see www.businessweek.com

Moving women to the topND


McKinsey Quarterly, 15 October 2010

As more women move into leadership roles, their potential impact on business increases. While the majority of executives acknowledge the link between better financial performance and gender equality, few companies take actions to support women. Diversity is not a high priority within the majority of strategy decisions and the financial crisis has not changed this view. Among the common actions taken to support women are implemented support programs for reconciling work and family life, as well as programs to encourage female networking and role models. A more diverse range of activities are undertaken by larger firms and commonly senior executives are encouraged or mandated to mentor junior executives. For more information see www.mckinseyquarterly.com

Carbon footprint labelsND


Martin Hickman, The Independent, 13 October 2010

In the UK it is estimated that by the end of 2010, a carbon footprint ethical label will become the second most commonly used standard for leading food brands. It shows that producers are working to reduce carbon emissions that cause global warming by the use of their products. In some cases the labels display the CO2 generated by each product and providing an insight into the level of pollution for each product. Consumers are increasingly becoming aware of carbon footprints for products and are trying to do something about it. For more information see www.independent.co.uk

Geolocation services: find a smartphone, find a customerND


Kermit Pattison, New York Times, 6 October 2010

Marketing executives have been adopting social media in greater numbers with impressive results. Geolocation services are being used by businesses that depend on customer traffic. Location-based services are used to broadcast rewards programs or reward client loyalty as well as gathering important information about customers. It is important with these services that you set clear goals, offer specials to entice customers. Once customers have used the services or purchased the product it is important to reward customers to make sure they will come back. Finally, Geolocation services offer analytical tools that can help track important aspects of demographics relating to customers. For more information see www.nytimes.com

Give more power to your peopleND


Ravi Mattu, Financial Times, 6 October 2010

Shared visions across companies promote better employee engagement. It is even better when these ideas do not come from management since this is a truly employee embedded idea. Many companies wait for major crises before changing their employee engagement. This is the case because the biggest problem for companies is breaking down trust between management and staff. This is important both as an empowering exercise but also because communication relies on telling a story that resonates with employees. For more information see www.ft.com

Workspace design: Will aesthetics give your business the edge?ND


Knowledge@ASB, 5 October 2010

Many employees work in spaces that are poorly suited to the tasks at hand. This can hamper productivity. Workers want a comfortable office, a sufficient amount of work surface area in the office, the option to put a computer in the most suitable location and the capability to keep work within arm's reach, to contain sounds within the office, to keep out distracting noises from outside the office and to have ‘visual privacy’. A more relaxed atmosphere for an office can involve something as simple as adopting casual dress codes. Many things can affect employee productivity, even lighting and artwork. For more information see www.knowledge.asb.unsw.edu.au

Schools ignore sustainability revolutionND


David Grayson, Financial Times, 3 October 2010

Many businesses agree that sustainability is a critical issue for future business success. Business schools that educate future managers remain surprisingly slow to adopt this thinking. Sustainability and corporate responsibility require cross-disciplinary work and greater interaction with businesses. Business should use its leverage over schools to promote these issues. Businesses should specify what mindset they require of graduates and place greater emphasis on demands for sustainability expertise. For more information see www.ft.com

Why companies are watching your every facebook, youtube, twitter moveND


Tim Weber, BBC News, 3 October 2010

Companies are tracking the social media scene for hints about their products and clients. Many cannot envision marketing or their communications without social media. This is because the reactions and impact of a message through social media is immediate. Also social media can act as a warning signal when things go wrong. Good use of social media can reduce complaints and costly calls to service centres. One of the key aspects of effective social media is identifying the most influential people online. These may not be necessarily the people with the most friends but the most impact. For more information see www.bbc.co.uk

Thinking straight about sustainabilityND


Marc Epstein, Stanford Social Innovation Review, Summer 2010

CSR has been used as a term to describe company operations yet it has not been an input into managing company operations. The term Sustainability has been increasing in usage and is an important modification because it acknowledges the long-term impact of business decisions. Many decisions that impact sustainability are made in business units closest to the action rather than at corporate office level. Yet measurement of performance does not acknowledge these features of local business unit roles. There could quite possibly be short costs but these are always paid off by long-term improvements. This makes it difficult to measure the impact of social and environmental performance. Things such as hazardous waste are easy to quantify, others such as employee satisfaction are harder to quantify. For more information see www.ssireview.org

A truer picture of China’s export machineND


John Horn, McKinsey Quarterly, September 2010

The question most businesses are asking is whether China is becoming more domestically orientated. Businesses entering China could find greater opportunities for profit if this is the case, and all signs point to this occurring. Many of China’s imports are used domestically by businesses and not all of the raw materials are used for export materials. The analysis undertaken suggests that exports have been an important driver of Chinese growth yet not the dominant one. Companies operating export businesses from China may need to ask the question of domestic distribution. It is suggested that a greater share of exports will consist of higher priced goods to compete with those in the developed markets. For more information see www.mckinseyquarterly.com

Big business mattersND


Judith Samuelson, Stanford Social Innovation Review, 30 September 2010

While the general public is distrustful and cynical about business, the reality is that big business is the most capable agent for solving important problems. While social enterprises are usually lacking in capital, big business can be reorganised with social entrepreneurship’s best features. Firstly, business purpose and public good should be aligned with business strategy. Second, social Intrapreneurs need to be encouraged. These are change agents working in businesses to find opportunities in any task. Thirdly, business ethical values need to be placed at the core of business education. For more information see www.ssireview.org

Boosting the productivity of knowledge workersND


Eric Matson and Laurence Prusak, McKinsey Quarterly, September 2010

A major opportunity for companies comes from raising the productivity of workers whose jobs primarily consist of decisions based on knowledge. Knowledge work cannot be automated and streamlined and performance metrics are not easily available. This is why so many companies settle on scattershot investments in many differing areas in the hope of improving productivity. Yet since the majority of knowledge work is conducted through interactions a good effort should start with this in mind. Many barriers exist that limit interactions, such as social and cultural barriers. For more information see www.mckinseyquarterly.com

China’s rich split on philanthropyND


Laurie Burkitt, Wall Street Journal, 28 September 2010

Recent visits by Bill Gates and Warren Buffet to China have opened up a debate regarding Chinese philanthropy. Many wealthy Chinese have questioned the logic of creating large foundations in a country already burdened by so much red tape. Until very recently philanthropy was not discussed openly since the delivery of social services is a government responsibility. Some business tycoons are wary of setting foundations for fear of flouting their fortunes. In China, one-off donations are increasingly common, but sustainable philanthropic efforts have suffered due to the lack of a regulatory framework and public awareness. For more information see www.wsj.com

Vietnam economy: Reform roll-back?ND


Economist Intelligence Unit, 21 September 2010

New government measures in Vietnam will allow governments to force pricing rules on domestic and foreign businesses alike. Even with possibility of legal action by the World Trade Organisation, the government is pushing ahead. Intervention will be used in cases where the price movements are determined to be ‘abnormal’. These new measures have been justified on the basis of rising inflation in the Vietnamese economy, and could require companies to hand over details of pricing structures and costs of component details. For more information see www.eiu.com

Big names see which way the wind is blowingND


Fiona Harvey, Financial Times, 15 September 2010

It is expected that sustainability will increase in importance in the future. Many companies who decide to ‘go green’ find that innovations in business practice increase after such decisions. In many cases businesses are responding to external pressures. There is an increase of government regulation, pressure from civil groups and even investors demanding higher green standards. While many companies are still facing consequences of the financial crisis, they seem to have decreased the promotion of their initiatives. Yet this does not indicate that these initiatives have been reduced. This evidence of growing involvement from big companies in green innovation defies those who predicted that the recession would put an end to environmental initiatives. For more information see www.ft.com

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