Core to the work of The Fletcher School’s Institute for Business in the Global Context, the “Turn?” Series of conference examine regions of the world at a point of inflection. From Africa to Turkey to Greece in the past few years, these events bring together leaders from business, politics, and academia for timely discussions, exploring implications for the world at large and the region on the cusp of “turning.”
We are beyond thankful for everything that thousands of people did make this the largest giving day in Fletcher and Tufts history.
Thank you for volunteering. Thank you for donating.
And thank you for supporting today’s students and faculty and the tremendous academic and global community that is Fletcher. Together, we’re making a brighter world.
Today is #GivingTuesday! Learn why Dean Bhaskar Chakravorti is giving to Fletcher, and consider joining him with your own gift. If 250 people give to Fletcher today, we unlock a special $50,000 challenge gift!
From time to time we like to feature some of the outstanding work of The Fletcher School’s business faculty. Today we look at a new article from Jette Steen Knudsen, Associate Professor of International Business and The Shelby Cullom Davis Chair in International Business.
A Global Policy special issue on public and private protections of labor and social standards in the global economy explores whether public and private regulations of such standards develop in harmony or tension with one another. Included in this issue was a piece researched and written by Prof. Jette Steen Knudsen titled, “How Do Domestic Regulatory Traditions Shape CSR in Large International US and UK Firms?”
Read the abstract below and follow the link to learn more:
This article examines corporate social responsibility (CSR) pertaining to labor standards in apparel and tax transparency in extractives and explores how domestic regulatory traditions shape CSR in large international US and UK firms. Reflecting their more collaborative business-government traditions, British firms are more willing to join international CSR multi-stakeholder initiatives with business-critical actors such as unions and civil society actors. The US has a more top-down regulatory approach, which promotes hard law international CSR or encourages business-driven voluntary CSR initiatives. This article makes three contributions. First, it argues that while corporations are the key actors in international CSR, their behavior reflects their respective national business systems. Second, focusing on a range of international CSR initiatives, this article finds that UK firms are more interested in adopting international (multi-stakeholder) CSR initiatives than US firms. Finally, the article shows that the US and the UK governments play a key role in driving an international CSR agenda, and in doing this it highlights government agency more so than other research has.
I chose Fletcher for several reasons. When thinking about going back to graduate school, I knew I wanted a business program with an international focus. My research into international business programs showed me there were not many schools that fit the criteria I was looking for, but The Fletcher School more than met my criteria — it passed with flying colors. The program is interdisciplinary, internationally focused in all subject matters, has a diverse faculty, staff and student body and has a broad course offering.
The alumni and student body were also critical to my decision-making process. I couldn’t believe how helpful, engaging and passionate every alum was. I recognized the passion that alumni still held for their school immediately, and by the time I made the decision to attend Fletcher, I already felt that I was a part of the community. I knew if the engagement from the alumni network was this good even before I had chosen Fletcher, it would be an alumni network I could always count on.
Technological solutions for agriculture in the developing world have become fairly widespread during the last decade, but challenges remain related to reaching farmers in rural, less connected areas. Well known applications such as M-Farm in Kenya have provided SMS-based market and price information to farmers, while other applications, including Esoko in Ghana, have offered information on weather patterns and other factors. However, due to lack of digital infrastructure or farmer literacy, reaching those at the base of the pyramid remains a significant challenge.
An eKutir farmer’s irrigated tomato plants
eKutir, a social business based in Bhubaneswar in the Odisha State in eastern India, has developed an ICT-based model that is designed to create value at the base of the pyramid. The eKutir model provides “micro-entrepreneurs” working in farming, food sales, and sanitation with access to technology that helps to improve productivity and streamline value chains. Over time, there is potential for this system to make a substantial impact by increasing returns on investment and reducing transaction costs throughout a wide range of value chains.
With support from the IBGC, I had an opportunity to travel to Bhubaneswar in March 2017 to meet with the eKutir management team as well as some of the farmers and entrepreneurs involved in eKutir’s value chains as part of research for my Fletcher capstone project. During my time in India, I was impressed by the consistent positivity among the various people with whom I spoke.
The massive exodus of the Syrian people has led to a refugee crisis in Europe. Hundreds of thousands of refugees have made the long journey across Turkey and then to Greece, putting their lives in danger in the hope of finding a better future in Europe. In 2015, more than a million asylum-seekers took refuge in Europe, with another 500,000 following in the first half of 2016. A deal was struck between the European Union and Turkey in March aimed at limiting the number of migrants and regulating migration by establishing EU-administered camps – the so-called hotspots – on the Greek islands of Lesvos, Chios, Samos, and Kos, from where the majority of migrants enter Europe.
Refugee boats arriving to the shores of Lesvos (August 2015)
The island of Lesvos found itself under the spotlight of international media as the central entry point to Europe. Some 600,000 refugees and migrants have passed through the island over the past 19 months. After a year of coping with the crisis without aid from international organizations, the impact on Lesvos’ 85,000 permanent residents has been significant. To their credit, the locals have been gracious hosts. Their sense of tolerance and solidarity has been praised by major world figures including Pope Francis, Queen Rania of Jordan, actress Angelina Jolie and former UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon. Their humanitarian efforts have earned them a nomination for the Nobel Peace Prize.
“It’s a pretty exciting time for you all to be coming out of Fletcher,” John Gordon told an audience of Fletcher students. After all, the technology field is developing rapidly, and ideas once-considered “crazy” are driving major industry progress. Gordon knows a thing or two about noteworthy technology developments; he’s the Chief Digital Officer of Current, powered by General Electric (GE) — an energy company that integrates GE’s LED, Solar, Energy Storage and Electric Vehicle businesses to deliver cost-effective, efficient energy solutions.
Understanding how technology evolves and the “implications of new technology trends” is of the utmost importance, Gordon told students. He referred to GE as a “big industrial company in transition” and said staying on top of the latest technology is one of the ways it stays current and drives progress.
John Gordon, Chief Digital Officer at GE, speaks as part of the IBGC Speaker Series (Photo Credit: Anthony Schultz)
Case in point? GE is known for building locomotives and engines, but at a certain point the company realized they needed to update the way they approach technology to better understand how their systems actually perform. “We decided that we needed a different type of technology that would allow us to service things better,” he explained. So GE sought out additional data to teach them how various machines, like airplanes, were operating, then started the process of analyzing.
By 2020, the business process outsourcing (BPO) industry is expected to reach $220 billion. Broadly speaking, the term refers to contracting business functions and processes, typically related to information technology (IT), to a third-party service provider. It encompasses a range of activities that include customer service work, data entry, digitization, financial accounting, and other higher value-knowledge processing such as content development, legal services, engineering design, and data analytics. I developed an interest in the sector in the Francophone world after noticing a wave of IT/BPO firms establish offices in my home country, Madagascar.
Teamwork in a Malagasy BPO/IT office
Curious to know more about the sector’s potential impact on the country’s economic base, I traveled to Antananarivo with support from IBGC. I interviewed the managers of four BPO firms, ranging from a large French subsidiary to a Malagasy start-up. I also met with the national information, communication, and technology (ICT) regulatory body, the ICT industry association, the tech hub, and one of the main four telecommunication companies. I learned what attracted these firms to invest and how they overcame the challenges of operating in a low-income country. More importantly, the interviews helped shape my views on how an IT/BPO sector could contribute to economic growth through investment and job creation.
In their 2016 Investor’s Survey, the Global Impact Investing Network (GIIN) reported that 99% of respondents are meeting or exceeding their impact targets, whereas 89% would say the same for financial returns. As with many statistics, this near-perfect success made me wonder about the anecdotes behind the numbers, and the conversations that followed with professors, peers, and practitioners in the impact investing space formed the foundation of my capstone.
by Kim Wilson, CEME Senior Fellow & Lecturer, The Fletcher School
Predictably, the long tentacles of financial inclusion have coiled themselves around the most vulnerable targets of humanitarian aid: low income refugees, migrants and displaced populations (hereon: “refugees”).
Just as predictably, the financial inclusion agenda is driven by suppliers (aid providers, donors, financial intermediaries and governments). Few refugees are demanding to be included in a digital/formal ecosystem. That does not mean they don’t appreciate the shelter, food and cash that humanitarian agencies have mustered on their behalf. They do. They also appreciate the efforts of those same agencies to make cash assistance easier. E-cash that can be transformed into physical cash at convenient times and places is an example. Use of debit cards at ATMs to withdraw cash from digital accounts can cut valuable time otherwise spent waiting in long cash distribution queues. Very appreciated, indeed.