Global Workers Are Ready for Retraining


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Joseph Fuller, professor at Harvard Business School, says that the story we hear about workers being afraid for the future of their jobs might not be right. In surveying 11,000 people in lower-income and middle-skills jobs and 6,500 managers across 11 countries, Fuller discovered that, contrary to what bosses believe, many employees are excited about new technologies and willing to be trained in new skills. But they don’t always know what they need to learn or how to access and pay for it. Organizations can do a better job of identifying the skills gaps they have or will soon face and using their existing workforces to fill them. Fuller’s project is a joint venture between the HBS Project on Managing the Future of Work and the Boston Consulting Group’s Henderson Institute. He’s a co-author of the HBR article “Your Workforce is More Adaptable Than You Think.”

How China Is Upending Western Marketing Practices


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Kimberly Whitler, assistant professor at the University of Virginia Darden School of Business, believes the days of transplanting well-worn Western marketing practices into national markets may be numbered. She has researched marketing campaigns in China and finds they are faster, cheaper, and often more effective than traditional Western ones. Moreover, she argues they may be better suited to today’s global marketplace. Whitler is the author of the HBR article “What Western Marketers Can Learn from China.”

How Innovative Companies Help Frontier Markets Grow


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Efosa Ojomo, global prosperity lead at the Clayton Christensen Institute, argues that international aid is not the best way to develop poor countries, nor are investments in natural resource extraction, outsourced labor, or incremental improvements to existing offerings for established customer bases. Instead, entrepreneurs, investors, and global companies should focus on market-creating innovations. Just like Henry Ford in the United States a century ago, they should see opportunity in the struggles of frontier markets, target non-consumption, and create not just products and services but whole ecosystems around them, which then promote stability and economic growth. Ojomo is the co-author of the HBR article “Cracking Frontier Markets” and the book The Prosperity Paradox.

Apple in China, and Payday Lending


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Youngme, Felix, and Mihir discuss Apple’s position in the Chinese market; debate whether payday lending is good or bad for workers; and ask whether companies should be doing more to help employees manage cash shortfalls. They also offer their After Hours picks for the week.

How Western Multinationals Are Responding to the Escalating U.S.-China Trade War


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The furious reaction from China to the arrest of Huawei’s chief financial officer, Meng Wanzhou, in Canada at Washington’s request immediately raises the prospect of like-for-like retaliation against executives from North American companies, a fear reinforced by the arrests of a former Canadian diplomat-turned-NGO-researcher and a Canadian businessman.

Western business people are ensnared in low-level court proceedings in China far more regularly than is reported in the West, the risk remains low of a retaliatory move against a Western executive of similar status to Meng. It would undercut the high-ground that Beijing has occupied as self-appointed defender of “the rules-based international order.”

However, there are other ways for Chinese authorities to take reprisals against Western multinationals operating in China should they so choose. Day-to-day business operations can readily be interrupted through inspections, audits, and other tourniquets of red tape, and by the selective application of the

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Fostering Employee Innovation at a 150-Year-Old Company


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Bayer’s mission is “Science for a Better Life.” We want to enable discoveries to promote health and secure food supply. To achieve that goal, however, we must innovate not only in terms of science and R&D, but also in how we run our business. This means shifting the way we work so we’re able to match the pace of change happening in the wider world.  With more than 100,000 employees and 150 years of history, there is only so much we can learn from the usual Silicon Valley exemplars. “We cannot be like Google, but neither do we want to be,” says Kemal Malik, the board member responsible for innovation, “We need to plot our own path.”

Our solution – one transferable to other organizations pursuing innovation – has been to create an agile network of volunteer ambassadors and coaches throughout the company who have

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When a Country is Facing Political and Human Rights Issues, Should Businesses Leave or Stay?


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After the murder of dissident Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, many companies had to urgently decide whether to attend Saudi Arabia’s Future Investment Initiative, a global business conference scheduled to take place just days after news of Khashoggi’s killing broke.

Questions like this involving issues like politics, human rights, or equality often present themselves sooner or later for any business operating in global markets. “I’ve had at least five instances where decisions like that had to be made,” the longtime CEO of Tupperware, Rick Goings, told me. The examples sound familiar: South Africa during Apartheid, China after the Tiananmen protests, Venezuela since the Chavez era, Egypt during and after the Arab Spring, and parts of Mexico today.

Over the course of the last few decades, multinationals have entered and left “frontier markets” like Venezuela, Cuba, Iran, Vietnam, Myanmar, and others. How did they, and how can they,

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How Managers Should Respond When Bribes Are Business as Usual


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Corporate bribery—that is, the practice of companies paying government officials for preferential treatmentis not only illegal  in dozens of countries. Studies show that it’s also counterproductive resulting in lower profit margins, return on equity, and employee morale; costly delays as players haggle over the size of the kickback; and poverty and poor governance in the markets where they’re paid. Yet, according to the World Bank, roughly one-third of firms around the world use kickbacks, paying an estimated total of $400 billion a year. Since 2006, hundreds of companies  including global brands like Novartis, Hewlett-Packard, and Rolls Royce — have reached settlements with U.S. authorities on charges of overseas bribery.

Why do kickbacks continue? According to my own research into dozens of bribery cases and five years of reporting on four continents, it’s because executives believe that  their competitors are

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Uber Prepares to Go Public, and China’s Social Credit System


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Youngme Moon, Mihir Desai, and Felix Oberholzer-Gee discuss how much Uber is worth as it prepares to go public, before debating China’s controversial Social Credit system. They also share their After Hours picks for the week.

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