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 ENRON, 2010, Written by Lucy Prebble, Royal Court Theatre, London

Corporate Scandals: Causes and Cures

Idea posted: January 2013
  • CSR & Governance
  • Finance
  • Leadership & Change
  • Operations

US corporate scandals plagued the early 2000s, with Enron, Tyco, and WorldCom becoming notorious. The 2008 financial crisis bred Libor rate-fixing and other cases of serious misconduct. Loss-hiding at Japan’s Olympus Corporation was exposed in 2011. In 2013 Shell, BP, Statoil and others came under investigation by the EU Commission for supposed oil price rigging. Fined, sued, disgraced and sometimes collapsed the consequences for organizations can be dire. What preventive measures should be put in place to ensure organizations do not fall prey to such outcomes? 

Idea #085
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King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table (anon. medieval)

How Evolving C-Suite Structures Affect Performance

Idea posted: February 2013
  • Strategy
  • CSR & Governance
  • Leadership & Change
  • Operations

The size and structure of C-Suites has changed significantly over the past few decades. An examination of these changes reveals a number of shifts, including one towards more product-focused (or front-end) functional managers in organizations with closely-related business units, and an increase in administrative positions where organizations invest more in IT. These findings also have an impact on general managers’ salaries. Here’s why executives should pay attention to these shifts when structuring their top teams.

Idea #082
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Win-Win Negotiation to Create Long-term Value

Idea posted: March 2013
  • Learning & Behaviour
  • Marketing
  • Operations
Institutions: INSEAD

Negotiations need to be about more than just money. By playing ‘hardball’ businesses can do irreparable damage to long-term relationships and destroy trust that has taken years to develop. There is a change in approach amongst large organizations looking to create long term value by creating true partnerships with suppliers and customers.

Idea #103
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Global Leadership: One Size Does Not Fit All

Idea posted: November 2013
  • Leadership & Change
  • Learning & Behaviour
  • Operations

Successful leaders, it’s commonly acknowledged, share certain core characteristics and competences. You don’t get very far in business without, for example, the ability to ‘envision’ the future, set and design strategy, and motivate others to achieve shared goals. But not all successful leaders are the same. A recent global study finds significant regional variations in the behaviours of successful leaders — and in the expectations and preferences of their followers.

Idea #250
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Chery A1 - service/repair shop in Ukraine (Source: Wikipedia Commons)

Reasons for Product Recalls: Safety on the Line

Idea posted: December 2013
  • Strategy
  • CSR & Governance
  • Operations

Product recall is an increasingly common problem for manufacturing industries. But its causes are rarely researched. Most studies concentrate on its effects. The  financial impact of withdrawing a product from sale has been examined in detail; the PR ‘fall-out’ much discussed. This Idea shifts the emphasis to the ‘plant-level drivers’ of recalls — and reveals the ‘systematic’ and operational reasons for quality-control failure and serious product flaws.

Idea #285
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Oilholics Anonymous Club. Allegory of the oil corruption

Reflective Leadership to Counter Corruption in Emerging Markets

Idea posted: January 2014
  • CSR & Governance
  • Leadership & Change
  • Marketing
  • Operations

Corruption remains a major obstacle to doing business in rapidly developing countries such as China, India, Brazil, Indonesia and Russia. It destroys value, distorts markets and encourages executives to work in their own rather than shareholders’ and stakeholders’ interests. Solving the problem depends on a new approach from companies: ‘reflective leadership’.

Idea #307
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The Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire in New York City on March 25, 1911, detail from a commemorative mural by Ernest Fiene, 1938–40, at the High School of Fashion Industries, New York

Supply Chain Networks and CSR Sourcing

Idea posted: February 2014
  • CSR & Governance
  • Operations

Building long-term relationships with select suppliers is seen as the way to reduce the risks of socially irresponsible sourcing and, by extension, damage to a company’s brand or reputation. It is not, however, a ‘magic’ solution to the problem of ‘rogue’ elements in the supply chain. New research finds that the success of ‘relational sourcing’ is directly linked to the structure of the supplier network — and that the ‘optimal’ structure varies by company and product category.

Idea #316
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The Voyage of St. Brendan the Navigator, according to legend this famed traveller reached North America between 512 and 530 AD

How Travelling Abroad Builds Trust and Tolerance

Idea posted: March 2014
  • CSR & Governance
  • Learning & Behaviour
  • Operations

The idea that travel can be important for personal development and ‘growth’ is well established. Spending time overseas can ‘broaden the mind’ — not only by increasing knowledge but also by reducing xenophobia. The maximum benefits, however, might depend on breadth as well as depth of experience. Recent empirical research finds a causal link between the ability to trust and accept others and exposure to a diverse range of ‘out groups’.

Idea #335
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Multiculturalism by Monisha Pushparaj (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

Multicultural Experience: Better Performance, Better Job Prospects

Idea posted: March 2014
  • CSR & Governance
  • Learning & Behaviour
  • Operations

The ability to process complex information and synthesize opposing ideas is associated with creativity and, by extension, increased professional opportunities and better job prospects. A multicultural environment can help build it — but only if people engage psychologically with others. The capacity to ‘integrate’ differing perspectives comes from interaction not observation.

Idea #340
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Dr. Manmohan Singh in 1994, when finance minister. He subsequently became Prime Minister of India (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

Modernizing without Westernizing: Social Ties and Indian Business

Idea posted: March 2014
  • Strategy
  • Finance
  • Marketing
  • Operations

The modernization of India’s economy, begun in the early 1990s when Manmohan Singh, then finance minister, introduced a series of reforms, has not reversed centuries-old traditions. Personal affiliations and kinship ties, long the bedrock of Indian society, continue to exert a powerful influence in the financial sector. India’s economy has been liberalized — but not, necessarily, Westernized.

Idea #341
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Foreign Acquisitions: The Path to Better Productivity at Home?

Idea posted: June 2014
  • Strategy
  • Operations

Cross-border acquisitions can be risky and complex but they can also create value and improve productivity in the long term. Much depends on the professional ‘ecosystem’ offered by the host country — and on the acquirer’s willingness to make complementary capital investments at home.

Idea #409
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