Strategy

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The Trouble With Stock Compensation

Research suggests that paying outside board members with equity grants leads to companies with less socially responsible behavior. That’s the conclusion of Yuval Deutsch and Mike Valente (both of Schulich School of Business, York University), who looked at social performance ratings and director compensation data for more than 1,100 U.S. public companies between 1998 and 2006. “Our findings suggest that there is a need to investigate more creative compensation arrangements,” they write.

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Can High-Frequency Trading Drive the Stock Market Off a Cliff?

Much of the time, high-frequency trading firms play a benign role in financial markets. These firms use fully automated computer systems to buy and sell stocks very rapidly, making thin profits by being ahead of human orders.

But in a nervous market with downward price pressure, high-frequency trading can create fierce volatility. A computer simulation of high-frequency trading behavior showed that a complex system “may turn into an unfamiliar monster when an invisible tipping point is passed.”

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Free Article

Sustainable Finance: 7 Steps in Managing Reputational Risk

Financial institutions’ funding decisions makes them gatekeepers for sustainable development. But how do they develop the policies and procedures that will guide how they make decisions and satisfy stakeholders? According to Olivier Jaeggi of ECOFACT, effective decision-making for sustainability can be summed up in a set of seven best practices.

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New Energy Policies for the World’s Sixth Largest Bank

Crédit Agricole, the sixth largest bank in the world, puts its money where its principles are in its recently released social and environmental policies. In keeping with its stated policy of supporting projects that are “sustainably vitalizing,” the bank’s policies prohibit funding energy projects that rely heavily on unsustainable fuels.

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The Trouble With Too Much Board Oversight

The high-profile scandals of the late 1990s have increased the oversight duties of independent directors. Has the increased focus on board oversight improved the quality of board monitoring? And can board oversight become detrimental to desirable objectives? This article focuses on three aspects of oversight: design and implementation of suitable executive compensation packages; removal of underperforming CEOs; and disclosure of earnings that reflect the company’s true financial conditions.

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Bringing Opportunity Oversight Onto the Board’s Agenda

Boards have two broad responsibilities: overseeing the protection of existing value and creating new value. Even though most boards take growth seriously, in practice board oversight has become unbalanced. The imbalance between risk and opportunity is a potentially serious problem. Correcting the imbalance will require an active, constructive partnership between the board and senior leadership — and a board that understands how the company maintains a high level of value-creating performance.

Image courtesy of Wal-Mart.

Rebuilding the Relationship Between Manufacturers and Retailers

In the tug of war between manufacturers and retailers, retailers seem to be winning. Retailers control market access and influence consumer behavior. Their power has moved downstream. What can be done to improve the situation? While manufacturers are locked into fixed investments and products with long payback cycles, retailers have a variety of ways of making money. This article explores how manufacturers can benefit by tailoring their approaches to a retailer’s specific business model.

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The Messy Business of Management

In a period of rapid technological and business change, successful executives particularly need the ability to think critically — and to be aware that some of their most cherished assumptions may, at any point, be challenged or invalidated by changing events. Business schools excel at teaching young managers well-structured models, theories and frameworks but need to spend more time helping their students surface, debate and test the assumptions underlying each model, theory or framework.

Image courtesy of Flickr user zoetnet.

Making Mergers Work

For organizations to achieve the psychological synergies required to realize economic synergies from mergers and acquisitions, executives need to attend to a more complex set of identity issues. These issues define the essence of the entity and give employees a clear answer to the question “Who are we?” and external stakeholders a clear answer to the question “Who are they?” Left unattended, these identity issues will diminish engagement and will affect the performance of the merged entity.

Image courtesy of Kyocera.

Amoeba Management: Lessons From Japan’s Kyocera

A persistent challenge for companies as they grow is how to maintain the high level of dynamism and employee commitment that drove success in the early days. Over the years, thoughtful managers and management theorists have formulated many approaches for dealing with the problem, all aimed at giving managers and employees more responsibility and accountability for the performance of their own profit centers. But few companies have taken things as far as Kyocera Corp.

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In Defense of Delay

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  • Read Time: 2 min 

A new book, “Wait: The Art and Science of Delay,” argues that while snap decisions can be important in times of danger, our brains need time to assess other factors and resist what economists call “present bias.”

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Dethroning an Established Platform

Increasing numbers of companies, whether providing hardware devices, traditional software or software in the cloud, are trying to become platform masters by releasing application programming interfaces that allow others to build software and hardware products or complementary services on top of their offerings.

But what can you do when a competitor has already established a leading platform? Learn from Apple’s iPhone, Google’s Gmail and Facebook — and how they overtook earlier market leaders.

Image courtesy of Amazon.

Creating Value Through Business Model Innovation

Companies are increasingly turning toward business model innovation as an alternative or complement to product or process innovation. Changes to business model design can be subtle; even when they might not have the potential to disrupt an industry, they can still yield important benefits to the innovator. The article offers a number of examples of business model innovation and poses six questions for executives to consider when thinking about business model innovation.

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Achieving Successful Strategic Transformation

Companies that are able to radically change their entrenched ways of doing things and then reclaim leading positions in their industries are the exception rather than the rule. Even less common are companies able to anticipate a new set of requirements and mobilize the internal and external resources necessary to meet them. The article focuses on three companies that transformed themselves and compares them with three other companies from similar industries that hadn’t been required to make a dramatic shift.

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How to Identify New Business Models

Companies traditionally pursue growth by investing heavily in product development so they can produce new and better offerings; by developing consumer insights so they can satisfy customers’ needs; or by making acquisitions and expanding into new markets. This article identifies a fourth method: “business model experimentation,” or using thought experiments to quickly and inexpensively examine new business model possibilities.

Image courtesy of Apple Inc.

Why Dominant Companies Are Vulnerable

Research has shown that several factors influence a company’s ability to retain market leadership. However, one factor has largely been ignored: the psychological forces that drive decisions consumers make and, specifically, the degree to which people feel they have choices. Once people have learned a company’s technology interface, they become more efficient using that interface and are often reluctant to switch to products requiring new skills or allowing limited transfer of current skills.

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Gaining a New Understanding of Risk

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In these days of uncertain markets – and an uncertain economy – risk can seem almost omnipresent. But how do you manage risk prudently – yet still grow your company? Harvard Business School professor Robert S. Kaplan began exploring risk management in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis, after he saw venerable firms such as Lehman Brothers and Bear Stearns collapse – despite having risk management functions. Here are a few of his insights on the topic of risk management.

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