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Behavioural Economics Explains Employee Retirement Savings Choices

Idea posted: October 2017
  • Finance

A groundbreaking 2004 journal article showed how behavioural economics could explain self-defeating retirement savings decisions made by employees. It was an early example of the power of behavioural economics over standard economic theory by the ‘father of behavioural economics’.

Idea #680
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Stopping Tax Evasion: Detection Probability Vs Moral Persuasion

Idea posted: October 2017
  • Finance
  • Operations

The authors of this research teach on the CEMS Masters in Management program at the Norwegian School of Economics - and this Idea is part of our CEMS series.

A large field experiment involving Norwegian taxpayers underreporting foreign income reveals that the probability of detection deters the greatest number of potential non-compliant taxpayers; moral arguments sways fewer non-compliant taxpayers but inspires those who listen to significantly increase their reported income. 

Idea #679
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Source: Pixabay

The Unintended Consequences of Risk Averse Managers

Idea posted: October 2017
  • CSR & Governance
  • Finance
  • Leadership & Change

Risk aversion and career concerns are pushing managers to play it safe, reducing the shareholder value of their companies — and the incentive compensation structures meant to motivate managers often have the opposite effect. 

Idea #676
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Impression III, Wassily Kandinsky, 1911 (Courtesy: The Lenbachhaus, Munich)

Behavioural Economics: A Power that Goes Beyond Nudges

Idea posted: October 2017
  • CSR & Governance
  • Finance

Behavioural economics solutions to societal problems mostly take the form of economic ‘nudges’ — such as defaults to increase retirement plan enrolments. However, the potential for behavioural economics to help resolve societal problems is far greater than the common nudges. A new paper explains how policy makers have failed to take full advantage of behavioural economics solutions.

Idea #677
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The Closed Bank, Edoardo Matania, 1870s (Courtesy: Dorotheum www.dorotheum.com)

Crowdfunding Still Attracts Local Investors to Local Ventures

Idea posted: April 2016
  • Finance
  • Innovation & Entrepreneurship

Entrepreneurs seeking funding through crowdfunding Internet platforms must still overcome the ‘home bias’ of investors — that is, their preference for funding projects located close to their homes.  

Idea #593
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The Symbolic Value of New Management Practices

Idea posted: April 2016
  • Finance
  • Leadership & Change
  • Learning & Behaviour

A new study shows that companies that are seen as continuously using new and improved management practices are valued more highly by analysts and other observers.

Idea #594
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Enterprise Risk Management: Lessons from Canada’s Banks and Burning Platforms

Idea posted: January 2016
  • Finance
  • Operations

Once lagging behind banks in other countries, Canadian banks are now a case study in ERM best practices — thanks to factors such as strong regulations, substantial loss events that galvanized ERM efforts, and ERM best practices capabilities of people, processes, systems and data in the individual banks.

Idea #579
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Stakeholder-Focused Accounting: Value Creation and Risks

Idea posted: December 2015
  • Strategy
  • Finance

Current accounting methods inadequately represent and reward stakeholder value creation. Value-creation stakeholder accounting (VCSA) — which combines the disciplines of accounting, value creation and stakeholder theory — is the theoretical foundation for new stakeholding-focused accounting. The best mechanism for implementing the theory is through value-creation stakeholder partnerships (VCSPs), derived from partnership accounting (as opposed to traditional entity convention accounting). 

Idea #571
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Tea pluckers in Darjeeling, 2004 (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

Economic Initiatives Can Lead to Unexpected Behaviours... at First

Idea posted: December 2015
  • Finance
  • Learning & Behaviour

Employee behaviour sometimes contradicts standard economic models. A study of a contract change in India, for example, led to greater output when the models called for less output. As the study reveals, however, the conflicting behaviour was only temporary; over time, employee behaviour in this case complied with the models. The study offers a warning to use longer-term data to measure the impact of economic initiatives or a policy change. 

Idea #568
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‘Circle reflect wikipedia 2’ by Dachris, 2006 (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

The Rise of Integrated Corporate Reporting

Idea posted: October 2015
  • Strategy
  • CSR & Governance
  • Finance

Creating an integrated report enables companies to communicate an holistic picture of their prospects, one that is broader than offered by traditional financial reports. Integrated reports cover strategy, governance, performance and forecasts. A new framework for ‘Integrated Reporting’ (IR) has been created to help organizations bring these elements together. Integrated reports benefit both external stakeholders and leaders within the organization.

Idea #555
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Stoughton Wisconsin Tornado of 18 August 2005 (Source: NWS/NOAA, Wikimedia Commons)

The Connection Between Disasters and Less Risk-Averse CEOs

Idea posted: October 2015
  • CSR & Governance
  • Finance
  • Leadership & Change

CEOs who have lived through disasters resulting in significant loss of life are likely to be risk-averse executives. Those, on the contrary, who live through disaster that did not result in significant loss of life tend to be less sensitive to the consequences of risk — and thus more risk-tolerant than the norm.

Idea #561
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Beware of Over-Optimistic Investors Skewing High-Risk Stock Prices

Idea posted: September 2015
  • Strategy
  • Finance

Investor sentiment has a, sometimes erroneous, effect on stock market valuations. There is evidence that higher risk stocks become overpriced in periods of optimistic sentiment and undervalued when sentiment is pessimistic. Optimism attracts equity investment by unsophisticated, overconfident, retail investors in risky opportunities while such traders are less active in pessimistic periods. Thus sentiment can wrongly influence company share prices, and both investors and CFOs planning financial strategy should be wary.  

Idea #549
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Deferred Compensation Helps Retain CEOs

Idea posted: August 2015
  • CSR & Governance
  • Finance
  • Leadership & Change

Researchers exploited a U.S. accounting rule change to prove the power of deferred compensation. The rule change pushed many U.S. firms to significantly accelerate vesting of deferred compensation plans. Of the firms that chose to accelerate vesting, a large majority quickly lost their CEOs. During the same period, most firms that did not accelerate their vesting did not see any significant CEO departure.

Idea #536
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CFO Survey: Most Hit by Hackers Otherwise Optimistic

Idea posted: July 2015
  • Strategy
  • Finance
  • Innovation & Entrepreneurship
  • Operations

New research from Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business global survey of CFOs reveals that 80% of companies have been hacked. Small and medium-sized businesses have been the hardest hit. Other results from the CFO survey include expectations of wage hikes and the impact of the strong U.S. dollar on U.S. exports.

Idea #534
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The board of directors of the Leipzig-Dresden Railway Company in 1852 (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

Non-Executive Board Members More Risk Averse than Executives

Idea posted: June 2015
  • CSR & Governance
  • Finance
  • Leadership & Change

When it comes to investment, CEOs are perceived to be the most risk tolerant, followed by CFOs and non-executives. However, recent research, measuring risk perception and return demands, shows that CEOs and CFOs are more aligned than previously thought, while non-executives are consistently risk-averse. CEOs will perceive more risk in an investment than CFOs, but don’t act on this perception: they don’t demand a higher minimum return on the investment, contrary to the minimum requirements demanded by non-executives. 

Idea #524
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Investors Complain Proxy Statements Unclear on Executive Pay

Idea posted: June 2015
  • CSR & Governance
  • Finance
  • Leadership & Change

Proxy statements are often unclear on major issues, notably executive pay questions such as the appropriateness of compensation size and structure, according to a new survey of major asset managers and owners. They also lack clarity on pay ratios, corporate political contributions, corporate social responsibility and sustainability and CEO succession planning.

Idea #528
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Five gantry cranes, built at ZPMC, destined for Hamburg, on the vessel Zhen Hua 20, 2007 (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

A Lesson from China: Growth Is Not Eternal So Be Prepared

Idea posted: March 2015
  • Strategy
  • Finance
  • Leadership & Change
  • Marketing

Shanghai Zhenhua Heavy Industries (ZPMC) was a high-flying builder of large-scale container cranes whose decisions — such as lifetime guarantees on all parts and ambitious diversification — reflected a belief that growth would last forever. It didn’t.

Idea #495
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Cyber-Attack Catastrophe: Lessons from a Plausible Risk Scenario

Idea posted: February 2015
  • Strategy
  • Finance
  • Leadership & Change
  • Operations

The Centre for Risk Studies at Cambridge University has developed a detailed risk scenario describing a slow-burning cyber attack on a fictional software developer that has global consequences. The improbable but plausible scenario, based on a variety of real (but smaller) cases, is intended as a ‘stress test’ for organizations and public policy bodies and offers lessons in how to mitigate the impact of such attacks.

Idea #491
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Firms Are Not Adapting to the Millennial Workforce

Idea posted: February 2015
  • CSR & Governance
  • Finance
  • Leadership & Change
  • Learning & Behaviour

Millennials bring technological savvy to the workplace, but also require focused managerial attention. According to the latest CFO Survey from Duke Fuqua and CFO Magazine, many companies — especially American companies — are not adapting to attract or retain millennials.

Idea #481
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Thumbs Up Ballet in a field choreography of Stars in my Eyes, Quebec, 1944 (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

Does Employee Satisfaction Improve Company Value? It Depends...

Idea posted: January 2015
  • CSR & Governance
  • Finance
  • Learning & Behaviour
  • Operations

Recent studies of U.S. companies have shown that increased employee satisfaction is linked to higher value for the firm. But what about companies in other countries? A new study shows that the U.S. results are replicated only in countries that have levels of labour flexibility (ease of hiring and firing) similar to the U.S. Companies in countries with low labour flexibility show a more limited benefit from employee satisfaction.

Idea #478
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High CEO Pay Leads to Overconfidence and Poor Results

Idea posted: December 2014
  • CSR & Governance
  • Finance
  • Leadership & Change

A new study shows a negative correlation between high executive incentive pay and company performance: the higher the pay, the worse the future results. This study also pinpoints the culprit behind the negative correlation: CEO overconfidence. The overconfidence of higher-paid CEOs leads to poor investment decisions and unsuccessful M&A initiatives. 

Idea #469
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How to Build Brand Equity Through Employee Engagement

Idea posted: December 2014
  • Finance
  • Learning & Behaviour
  • Marketing

From the friendly retail clerk helping a customer to the highly paid consultant who delivers groundbreaking solutions to the business unit, employees can directly impact a company’s brand equity. Therefore, any employee-related policy or resource decision — from training to lay-offs — is in effect a branding issue. 

Idea #466
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Good News and Bad News,  John Bagnold Burgess, 1876, courtesy Russell-Cotes Art Gallery & Museum, Bournemouth

Overreacting to Bad Financial News Can Lead to Poor Investment Decisions

Idea posted: November 2014
  • Finance
  • Learning & Behaviour

A University of North Carolina experiment involving investment choices confirms the neuroscience research that reveals how people learn differently from good vs. bad outcomes and when being exposed to positive vs. negative news. The result, the experiment shows, is a bias to too much pessimism when investors experience negative outcomes.

Idea #459
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The Good and Bad Reasons Corporate Cash Is Trapped Overseas

Idea posted: November 2014
  • CSR & Governance
  • Finance

Policy makers are worried that U.S. companies are using Permanently Reinvested Earnings (PRE) as a tax loophole rather than legitimately trying to grow their overseas operations. They are also concerned about cash trapped overseas instead of being invested in the U.S. economy. The SEC is focused on whether companies are using the rules concerning PRE as a means to overstate their profits. New research shows that a majority of companies are serious about overseas growth rather than looking for tax loopholes. However, cash trapped abroad is still a problem for the U.S. economy. 

Idea #458
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Stock trading on the New York Curb Association market, with brokers and clients signaling from street to offices, 1916 (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

The Impact of Ideal Vs Problematic Shareholders

Idea posted: October 2014
  • Strategy
  • CSR & Governance
  • Finance

In an ideal world, companies would spend significant time managing their shareholder base, striving to attract the ideal shareholder: a shareholder with a long-term investment horizon who will allow the company to make long-term investments and not push for short-term results. Shareholders with short-term investment horizons drag down share prices or increase their volatility by focusing on short-term results.

Idea #447
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What Your Company Can Learn from Supercompetitors

Idea posted: October 2014
  • Strategy
  • Finance
  • Operations

Competitive strategy is no longer about assets, positions and economies of scale. Supercompetitors such as IKEA or Amazon build on distinctive capabilities that are scalable and relevant to offer one single powerful value proposition that transforms their industries.

Idea #445
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Electronics factory in Shenzhen, China, 2005 (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

Outsourcing Vs Reshoring: The Case for Local Manufacture

Idea posted: August 2014
  • Strategy
  • Finance
  • Operations

Companies offshore their manufacturing to take advantage of lower wages and other cost savings in overseas countries. However, costs incurred from having an extended supply chain may in fact be wiping out the savings from offshoring advantages. MIT Sloan visiting professor Suzanne de Treville believes that one can make a financial case for reshoring manufacturing.

Idea #429
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The Intrigue, James Ensor, 1890 (Courtesy: The Royal Museum of Fine Arts Antwerp)

How Crowdfunding Affects Product and Pricing Decisions

Idea posted: June 2014
  • Finance
  • Innovation & Entrepreneurship
  • Marketing

Seeking investors through crowdfunding sites such as Kickstarter requires entrepreneurs to rethink their pricing and product line strategies, taking into account the mix of investor/buyers who will attach different levels of value to the new product or service.

Idea #402
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How Peers Influence Ethics: Good Eggs and Bad Apples

Idea posted: June 2014
  • CSR & Governance
  • Finance

A controlled experiment reveals that managers ‘adjust’ their ethics based on the behaviour they witness from peers. If a peer is honest, the observing manager becomes a little more honest, on average. If a peer is dishonest, the observing manager can become significantly more dishonest. 

Idea #386
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The Sower by Jean-François Millet, circa 1865, Walters Art Museum, Baltimore

How Well Is CSR Embedded in Business Strategy?

Idea posted: May 2014
  • Strategy
  • CSR & Governance
  • Finance
  • Innovation & Entrepreneurship
  • Leadership & Change

CSR and sustainable development are now widely seen as core parts of business. This does not, however, mean they’re always treated as core parts of business strategy. The management control systems big companies use to design, implement and monitor CSR sometimes suggest a ‘reactive’ rather than a ‘proactive’ approach from leaders.

Idea #374
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