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Where should a company’s responsibilities end?

Where should a company’s responsibilities end? Are platform companies like Uber and Airbnb spurring innovation or profiting by offloading accountability? Stanford’s Jeffrey Pfeffer raises challenging questions in a scathing op-ed in Fortune.  
Yale Insights talked with Pfeffer about power and the shifting relationship between employers and employees.
In another conversation with Yale Insights, Lynn Stout highlighted corporations’ responsibilities to a range of stakeholders.

Capping carbon?

China and the U.S. announced a major deal to limit carbon emissions. The two countries account for 45% of global greenhouse gas emissions, so the agreement could affect policies worldwide, according to the Washington Post.

What’s the role for the private sector? The director of the UN Global Compact, in an interview with Deutsche Welle, explains why businesses are backing a price on carbon.

And Yale Insights talked with Yale professor William Nordhaus about his work modeling the economic effects of climate change, which informs the discussion on how to price carbon.

What’s the future of innovation?

What’s the future of innovation? Strategy + Business magazine’s 10th annual survey on R&D spending found that leaders plan to shift asset allocations and goals from incremental to breakthroughs innovations.  

Meanwhile, a historical look at the subject shows that powerful innovations have wide-ranging effects, far beyond what their creators could have imagined.  

Yale Insights looked at design thinking, one means of encouraging innovation within organizations.

Remaking financial markets?

In 2008, global financial markets were in ruins. The investment banks that hadn’t been sold or gone bankrupt were desperately seeking liquidity. Six years on, the New York Times looks at Goldman Sachs as the firm, like investment banks more broadly, adapts to new regulations and capital requirements.

Yale Insights examines where else the economic and policy ripples of the financial meltdown can still be felt with highlights from a lecture by Yale SOM professor Andrew Metrick.

 

Diversifying high tech?

Google is unhappy with its performance on diversity—83% of its engineers are men. The New York Times that reports half of Google’s 49,000 employees have attended workshops “based on an emerging field of research in social psychology known as unconscious bias. These are the hidden, reflexive preferences that shape most people’s worldviews, and that can profoundly affect how welcoming and open a workplace is to different people and ideas.” The company hopes that increasing diversity will enhance creativity.

Yale Insights interviewed Google’s head of human resources, Laszlo Bock ’99, about the skillsets the company looks for in hiring around the world.

Are public pensions hedging their bets?

The $298 billion California public pension system is getting out of hedge funds “as part of an ongoing effort to reduce complexity and costs in its investment program.” In a Bloomberg View column, Barry Ritholtz points out that many pension funds accepted the high costs of hedge funds in hopes of reliably higher returns, which could cover funding gaps. “The expectation that hedge-fund returns will exceed those of equities is an unsupported fiction,” Ritholtz writes. For the pension funds, “[t]his short-term patch is setting up much bigger shortfalls in the future.”
 
Yale Insights talked with Ranji Nagaswami ’86 about the origins of public pensions crisis and potential solutions.

 

What is a corporation for?

In the Financial Times, Martin Wolf writes: “Almost nothing in economics is more important than thinking through how companies should be managed and for what ends. Unfortunately, we have made a mess of this. That mess has a name: it is ‘shareholder value maximization.’” Suggesting that companies are tools for sustaining long-term commitments, he says that the short-termism often associated with maximizing value is undermining their purpose.

Yale Insights talked with Lynn Stout about the shaky legal basis for the primacy of shareholder value and the evidence that inordinate focus on shareholder value actually hurts returns.

A sustainable military?

Focusing on cost savings and building resilience in the face of uncertainty, the military has made significant progress in preparing for climate change. Bloomberg looks at what this apolitical approach has accomplished and what lessons can be drawn.

Yale Insights talked with Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Army Richard Kidd ’93 about helping organizations see sustainability as critical to the mission.
 

Benefits of the benefit corporation

In an op-ed in the New York Times, Yale’s Robert Shiller suggests that benefit corporations—hybrid organizations that build both profit motive and social impact into their corporate DNA—may “inspire loyalty, cooperation and real purpose, which helps create profits, too.”

For a deeper look at this new organizational model, see Yale Insights’ video interview with Andrew Kassoy of the B Lab, on the potential for B Corps to change business.
 

World Cup Marketing

Billions of fans following the World Cup make for a marketing frenzy. Even the official soccer ball, designed by Adidas, has 1.6 million Twitter followers.

Visa’s CMO spoke with Yale Insights about how the company tries to leverage major global events.

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