How Should Business Engage with Sustainability?

Given the weekend read of last week, it is not surprising that some of the largest companies in the world are now producing annual sustainability reports. As an example, the GE sustainability report states: At GE, sustainability means aligning our business strategy to meet societal needs while minimizing environmental impact and advancing social development… Business…

Is Sustainability a Business Challenge?

The Challenge to the Planet The world population is expected to grow from the 7.5 billion currently (5 billion in 1987) to 10 billion by 2050. This increase is driven by a combination of enhanced life expectancy and high birth rates. While the former has been a global phenomenon, the latter is restricted to the…

Brand Mission, Vision or Illusion?

A great brand needs direction. The brand’s mission statement, which in the case of the corporate brand is the company’s mission statement, helps articulate “why the brand exists?” Unfortunately, too many mission statements are too superficial, diffused, or bland to help answer the fundamental question of “why we exist” for its owners, management, and employees….

Do Global Brands Create Value?

My co-author and friend of many years, Professor Jan-Benedict Steenkamp, mailed me a complimentary copy of his latest book, Global Brand Strategy. A month later, I finally got around to reading it this week.

Can B2B Companies Evolve into B2C Companies?

The Financial Times recently featured the Chinese giant Huawei and its success in becoming the world’s third largest smartphone company. This is truly a remarkable achievement for Huawei. As articulated in the Brand Breakout book (co-authored with J-B Steenkamp), evolving from a B2B company into a consumer company is not easy, especially for a company…

Is everyone trying to be someone they are not?

Two weeks ago, I concluded my blog with “everyone is trying to be someone they are not”. Some of you must have realized by now that I often take deliberately provocative positions. This helps unfreeze others as they feel compelled to stake an opposing view. It’s good to stir up the pot. So, as expected,…

Learning from Executives’ War Stories

In my previous blog, I had argued for why faculty at the leading business schools in the world tend to be researchers with PhDs rather than executives. Some of the responses that I received made me realize that a segment of readers had misunderstood my point on two fronts.

Does Increasing Power Portend War?

For some reason, inexplicable to me, my two favourite research papers, are also my two least successful in terms of citations. Perhaps they were published in the wrong journals. This week I would like to report on one of them. While the empirical analysis was done in a distribution channels context, it has fascinating implications…

Should You Disagree with the Boss?

When teaching, I often used to observe that your boss works much harder than you do and, more often than not, is smarter than you. Nothing riled up the class more than this, but such provocations are extremely important. The role of a professor is not to tell students “what to think”, but instead “to…

Should the Conglomerate Discount Persist? When Business Groups Add Value

Conglomerates were in fashion until the 1970s, when Michael Jensen, finance professor and Nobel Prize winner, observed that they suffer from “billions in unproductive capital expenditures and organizational inefficiencies.” This led to the belief that companies or groups with unrelated multi-business portfolios do a lot of things badly rather than a few things well. As…

Is Apple Doomed?

Over the past 15 months, the Apple stock has fallen by 20-25 percent and now trades at a price earnings multiple of around 12, which is not particularly high for a technology company that makes products so beloved by consumers. Followers of my posts know that I do not subscribe to stock picking and, as…

How Private Equity Changed Corporations

Private equity (PE) makes for an easy target. Much of this is self-inflicted, thanks to the large compensation packages that PE professionals receive on account of the 2-and-20 model — 2 percent management fee on assets and 20 percent on returns over a hurdle rate — combined with the mediocre performance of many PE funds. The enormous fortunes made…