3 Reasons Why Your Business Should Care About The Environment

More and more reputable companies in the private sector are waking up to the fact that sustainability and being environmentally conscious actually pays off in business. Going green is now way past the hippie fad that it once was and is a serious contestable issue. Any company thinking about reaching great, profitable heights needs to think about their environmental policy and carbon footprint before they get pulled up by the government or called out by consumers. Here are three main reasons why your business should start to care. Continue reading “3 Reasons Why Your Business Should Care About The Environment”

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Be your best at interview

Make sure you don’t sabotage your chances at the interview stage by following a few simple and well-known tips for creating a good impression which, nonetheless, many people forget. The first basic tip to remember when preparing for an interview is to scout out the location first to ensure you know how to get there. Do the journey at least once and then add on an extra 20 minutes travel time on the day to allow for any traffic jams or other unforeseen problems. Continue reading “Be your best at interview”

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Maternity rights and umbrella companies – a guide

Contracting is becoming an increasingly popular way of working for a number of reasons. Many people assume this is primarily because more opportunities are available at a time when employers are less certain of economic conditions and so unwilling to take on full-time salaried workers. However, while this may be true and there are certainly a wealth of options open to contractors, it is the freedom and flexibility afforded by this career path that is most often cited as its major benefit. Continue reading “Maternity rights and umbrella companies – a guide”

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Utilizing personal loans to fund your new business venture

For businesses that need a small to moderate amount of funding for start-up costs, getting a personal loan may be easier than getting a small business loan. Because many small business ventures are prone to failure and the assets of the business often secure the loans, most banks have stricter lending policies for small business loans. For example, if you run into trouble and it looks like your business is failing, the bank may ask you to pay back the loan in full whereas that is not as likely with a personal loan. Here are some suggestions on how to obtain a personal loan from sources other than traditional banks and how to use the money to fund your new business. Continue reading “Utilizing personal loans to fund your new business venture”

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Top 100 Business Schools of India – 2012 Rankings

Business Today and Nielsen has published the B-School rankings for 2012, in India. One of the interesting things this ranking has attempted to achieve the balance between “perception overlaps” among “chains of B-Schools”… (like IIMs, IMIs, IMTs, IITs, Symbiosis, ICFAI etc).. and estimate the individual B-School’s actual but relative position, somewhat unaffected by the umbrella brands. Indeed a good and novel way to rank institutes. There were two surveys, one to estimate the perceptive performances of institutes, and another to estimate the factual performances of the institutes.

The factual survey was done first, wherein we sent out a detailed questionnaire across multiple parameters to 1,832 B-schools across the country. Subsequently, after the factual data had come in from these schools, the perceptual survey was started. A separate questionnaire was administered to a group of more than 1,200 stakeholders of the B-school ecosystem, including teachers, students, young executives and HR recruiters. Their opinions are taken again on various aspects relating to the five key parameters – Learning Experience, Living Experience, Return On Investment, Future Orientation and Brand Value and finally a sum of products approach was undertaken and scoring of the institutes was achieved.

Check out the rankings below:

 

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Making the Right Energy Choices Can Benefit Your Business

Whether you’re looking to benefit your company’s bottom line or your overall image, energy and the choices you make pertaining to its use and generation can make a big impact. There are a lot of things businesses can do to be smart about energy use, especially when you consider that most businesses use a lot of energy in comparison to a single residence.

Everything from embracing green energy solutions to conservation programs can help drive down your expenses each month, and you might get some added PR if you let people know what you’re doing.

Start with a conservative mindset

The easiest way to make an impact on your energy expenses each month is to institute a conservation plan. It can be as simple as leaving lights off in areas of the building that aren’t constantly in use, or as aggressive as keeping the air conditioning system a few degrees warmer in the summer. You don’t want to generate a mutiny from your employees, but a few new policies that are easy to follow won’t create too much of a stir.

This conservation can even spread to other areas of the business. Are you using a lot of paper on a daily basis? Maybe it’s time to switch to an all email system for memos. Are you providing Styrofoam cups in the break room? Encourage your employees to bring in their own ceramic mugs to cut down on waste. No matter how small a conservation project is, it will add up.

Consider pursuing green energy solutions

Is your business in an area with a deregulated energy market? If so, going green is easier than you think. Sites like www.texaselectricityproviders.com make it simple to find energy suppliers that offer green energy options. Even if you aren’t located in a deregulated market, there are ways to embrace green energy solutions.

Thanks in part to how affordable green energy technology is today, there are many businesses across the country that lease green energy infrastructure. Depending on the size of your operation, leasing equipment may be more viable than purchasing your own solar array but either way, having onsite infrastructure is a big step.

Onsite green energy infrastructure means that you’ll be actively reducing your business’ energy bills each month, usually at a rate that will allow your investment in the technology to pay for itself within a few years. In terms of PR, having a solar array visible gives your company a bragging point. It shows that you care about your impact, and you’re smart enough to save yourself money on the energy you know your company is going to use. Just think about it.

Other ways to promote energy conservation

If the majority of your workforce drives each day, consider incentivizing the closest parking spots. Designate the best spots for those who carpool or drive hybrid cars. You could even further encourage carpooling by creating a bulletin board where employees can find rideshare opportunities across the business.

In the end, controlling your business’ energy consumption is one of the easiest ways to make a significant impact on your bottom line, and the public’s perception of your company. Consider implementing some of these suggestions, but know that there are plenty of other ways to achieve the same goal.

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Comparison of Business Strategy Frameworks

Strategic management literature has established multiple popular frameworks which are used by decision makers to develop a roadmap for business strategy. Some of the popular frameworks for business strategy are Porter’s 5 forces model, BCG / GE McKinsey MatrixPEST analysis and the Ansoff Matrix. However, all these frameworks focus on factors which are external to the firm. In this article, however, we focus on the frameworks which are a mix of the external view of the macro-environment and the internal view of the strengths and weaknesses existing within the firm, namely the Industry Structure view, the Resource based view and the Relational view of the firm.

The Industrial Structure view is somewhat more macro-industry focused. It postulates that firms operate in an environment of competitive forces of rivalry and forces involving barrier of entry (even exit). In general industry structure refers to the distribution of firms in an industry. The existence of a large number of firms in an industry both reduces and increases opportunities for coordination among firms in the industry. Depending on the degree of consolidation or fragmentation in the industry, the macro-economical dynamics affect the firm’s competency in how it deals with the forces of competition.

In contrast, the Resource based view is somewhat more internal focused. It stresses that the competitive advantage of a firm lies primarily in the application of the bundle of valuable resources at the firm’s disposal. To transform a short-run of competitive advantage for a firm to a sustained competitive advantage is like winning both the battle and the war. It requires creation of resources which are heterogeneous in nature and not perfectly mobile across competing firms. This again translates into the fact that the value of these resources arise from the criticality that they are neither perfectly imitable nor substitutable without great effort.

Similarly, the Relational view is a theory for considering networks and dyads of firms interlinked within the daily intercourse of business transactions, as the unit of analysis to study and frame strategies for sustainable competitive advantage. The relational view argues that idiosyncratic inter-organizational linkages are the sources of competitive advantage, whereby relationships play a major role in development and exploitation of competencies in an industry that is traditionally highly competitive.

In the next diagram, a comparative analysis of these important theories has been presented., which present how these theories are not only different, but also complement each other by taking a different lens to view the competitive landscape for a strategic decision maker.

Do let us know, if you have any query regarding more details on this article. We value the feedback from our readers very highly.

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Dealing with rejection and failure

When trying to accomplish any major goal in life, rejection and obstacles are inevitable steps that every professional has to encounter not once but multiple times in life. The key is to learn from your mistakes and persist through it until you succeed. However, this is easier said than done. The critical differentiators between success and failure is the ingredient of the person, who befalls the same. It is not aptitude that creates the difference but attitude, as has been recognized in numerous highly cited research works (Shao et al. 1988, Jennifer et al. 2006; etc).

I have personally encountered numerous professionals who are actually extremely competent but find it hard to deal with failure and perceived rejection from the social and professional network due to the same.  Counseling helps in more ways than is perceived in making or breaking these otherwise highly competent people.

Success of course is the ultimate souvenir and the only testament to your efforts. However, dealing with rejection is critical to avoid burn-out and maintain self poignant efficacy and confidence to go on. Coping strategies include using emotional or instrumental support; self-distraction; denial; religion; venting; substance use; self-blame; and behavioral disengagement.

Of these, using social support (for emotional, instrumental and terminal goals), denial, venting, behavioral disengagement, and self-blame coping had negative effects on individual satisfaction and ends up in boosting sub-lingual dissonance within the mind. As more and more professionals used these coping strategies in dealing with the day’s most bothersome failure, the less satisfied they felt at the end of the day and subsequently their performance felt the effect of a dissonant mind in the long run. This creates job churn or disengagement from organizational citizenship behavior or even group affiliation.

In contrast, positive reframing (i.e. trying to see things in a more positive light, looking for something constructive feedback from first hand experiences), factual acceptance and humor coping had positive effects on satisfaction. It has been observed that professionals using these coping strategies in dealing with failures, became more satisfied and less stressed they felt at the end of the day (Stoeber et al., 2006). The finding that positive reframing of relatively bitter experiences in the professional sphere was helpful for professionals having extremely high perfectionist goals and long term self-improvement commitment is particularly important. This establishes that even people high in perfectionistic concerns will have a tendency to be dissatisfied no matter what they achieve, are able to experience high levels of satisfaction if they use positive reframing while attempting to cope when dealing with perceived failures. The same also applies for all professionals even if they are somewhat in the “cross the fence” stage where they are yet to taste success majorly.

Do let us know, if this helps you in dealing with stress from fears of failure and rejection.

 

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BSC – The Balanced Scorecard

The Balanced Scorecard (BSC) is a framework for strategic management, used to monitor and align performance of an organization or a division of the same. It is a semi-standard yet more or less structured report, supported by some established design methods and tools, that can be used by management executives to keep track of the execution of plans / assignments by the staff within their control and to evaluate the possible consequences arising from the execution of these plans. Introduced by Robert Kaplan (Harvard Business School) and popularized by Bain & Company, the Balanced Scorecard has become one of the most popular frameworks for project monitoring and management and align the same to the vision and mission of the organization, be it an industrial, government, or nonprofit organization.

Ref: Robert S. Kaplan and David P. Norton, “Using the Balanced Scorecard as a Strategic Management System”, 1996, Harvard Business Review, Vol. 76.

There are 4  major process that needs to be balanced in BSC:

  1. The Learning & Growth process
  2. The Business process
  3. The Customer process
  4. The Financial process

The learning and growth process involves all the plans and programs an organization or a department is undertaking in terms of training and development related to both individual and corporate self-improvement. It extends the concept that in a knowledge based organization,people or the human resource is the most critical resource to organizational development.  This section posits the use of metrics to evaluate performance, progress and development of the human resources of an organization.

The Business Process takes into consideration to develop metrics to measure the performance of the internal processes of an organization. It helps to map development in process efficiencies with incremental changes in internal processes. Process management metrics and workflow management metrics are used in this process to evaluate performance vis-a-vis improvements. Incremental improvements the the processes in terms of meeting targets (say process efficiencies) are measured and how the implementation of plans to meet such targets were conducted, is scrutinized in this process.

The customer process takes into account the philosophy of customer orientation in an organization. In current times, there has been an increasing realization of the importance of customer focus and customer satisfaction in any business. The focus in this process is predominantly Customer Lifetime Value management and in the next stage, harness the Customer’s network value. Incremental improvements in each objectives in terms of meeting targets is measured and how the implementation to meet such targets were planned, is scrutinized in this process.

The financial process is another crucial dimension in the BSC. Although managers using the BSC do not have to rely solely on short-term financial measures as the most important indicators of the division’s performance, financial measures are none the less, extremely relevant and are often recognized as the most critical process by many practitioners. Measures such as financial ratios, total revenue from sales, total cost, cost structure improvements, and indirect sources of revenue are scrutinized against their targets, in this process.

These processes are mapped against each other to check how the organizational vision and mission are being adhered to within a division while implementing ploys and strategies. These help in providing a way to construct a concrete step-by-step path of development for the executives of a division or of an organization.

However, the limitation of the Balanced Scorecard is that it has been severely criticized by scholars  for its inability to link a company’s long-term strategy with its short-term ploy. It has become overused in many organizations, sometime not in the most desirable way, as it was conceived when developed.

industry, government, and nonprofit organizations

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Globalization – Impacts & Effects

Globalization is the unification of the economies across the world beyond the barriers forged by the geographies, so as to to stimulate wealth generation, exchange of goods and services and mutual inclusive growth through an division of labor across nations characterized by efficiencies arising from international relations, specialization and competition. Typically the forces of globalization are driven primarily by economic, sociocultural, political, and technological factors although other factors have also played a significant role in the process.

Although the empirical evidence on the benefits of globalization on inclusive development is not very clear, the share in aggregate world exports and in world output of the developing countries has definitely increased due to this phenomenon. The emergence of global markets which has triggered a much wider access to a range of products both for consumers and firms has definitely triggered a kind of major industrial revolution. There has also been a stimulated growth triggered by access to better financial resources due to the liberalization of economies and thus the increased liquidity of financial resources.

A major impact of the globalization has been the stimulation of the Green Revolution, which has managed to address the needs of the burst in population globally. It is felt that without the green revolution, stimulated by the exchange of information, agro-products, fertilizers, seeds, bio-technology and expertise, much of the sudden burst of population growth would have suffered severely from lack of access to food, clothes and medicines.  The development of agriculture and agro-based industries has had a major positive effect on the lives of billions of people on this planet directly and even more so indirectly.

The realization of a global market, based on the freedom of exchange of goods, information and capital, and thus setting up the preconditions for perfect market conditions  has been one of the major benefits of globalization. This has actually stimulated a shift of monopolistic economic power from the United States (and European nations) to fast developing economies like China, India, Brazil and other similar countries, which are growing at a rate exceeding 8% year on year. The emergence of China and the Eastern tigers (Vietnam, Malaysia, Singapore) as a manufacturing super-power and the emergence of India and Brazil as a services hub has been extremely significant in this shift of political power.

A major trigger in the impact of globalization has been the adoption of internet based products and services. This has triggered a substantial increase in information flows between geographically dispersed locations and stimulated the formation of global markets. Today, consumers of lesser developed economies have access to all the products of developed economies through the establishment of e-markets like Amazon and e-Bay.

The social effects have been significant too in the context of globalization. English, although the third most popular language in the world, after Mandarin and Spanish, has become the Lingua Franca (official language) of the global economies. The access to global information, products and services has triggered the growth of cross-cultural relationships and facilitated the development of a new order consciousness and life-style stimulated from cultural diffusion, improved standards of living and access to foreign products, services and ideas. This development of “World culture” has been most significant among the Netizens triggered by fraternity shared on online forums which has stimulated the exchange and diffusion of ideas.

However, globalization has also triggered the brain drain from developing economies to developed economies to access better employment opportunities and also the formation of Sweatshops by the advanced economies in developing economies to take the benefits of cheap labor. The globalization of the jobs has a negative impact in developed countries where many of the jobs (especially the low knowledge centric ones like BPOs and KPOs) have been outsourced to economies where labor is comparatively much cheaper. Also, many argue that globalization has actually a negative impact on inclusive development of backward economies and the rich gets richer by taking advantage of the resources in the disposal of the poor by utilizing it better. Also, globalization has triggered many illicit trade activities involving drugs and trafficking and this has added to the woes of under-developed economies.

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PEST Analysis

PEST analysis stands for “Political, Economic, Social, and Technological analysis“. It is a framework for Strategic analysis of markets to evaluate macro-environmental factors used in the environmental scanning component. Some analysts add the Legal factors to the analysis.

Thus when the PEST analysis is expanded to incorporate legal and environmental factors; this is called a PESTLE analysis or a PESTEL analysis.

  • Political factors pertain to how the government intervenes in the economic functioning of the country (market) and more specifically how it affects the firm strategic decision making. Political factors such as tariffs, tax policy, labor laws, trade restrictions,environmental law, and political stability. Political stability is a major factor which affect the firm’s strategic decision making and overall legal framework.
  • Economic factors consists of interest rates, government bond rates, risk free rate of interest, economic growth, inflation rate (adjusted) and exchange rates.  These factors have major impacts on how a firm can operate in a market. Inflation rate and potential GDP affect the demand and prices of goods.
  • Social factors include the cultural dimensions of the population in which the firm will operate and include gender consciousness, gender based product/service bias, population growth rate, age spread, health consciousness, career attitudes and risk appetite of the target segment.
  • Technological factors consists of factors such as research and development focus in general industries, intellectual property protection laws, technology adoption rates, change assimilation culture, automation and the rate of technological change. They affect entry barriers, technology enabled products and service assimilation,  product prices, quality, and innovation.
  • Environmental factors consists of factors like ecological and environmental aspects such as forestry  and  climatic conditions which may especially affect industries such as tourism, farming, and insurance.
  • Legal factors focus on discrimination laws, intellectual property protection laws, labor laws, consumer laws, antitrust laws, employment laws, health laws, safety laws and social security laws which can affect how a firm operates, its bottom-line (cost structure) and the demand and distribution for its products and services.

The PEST framework has been recognized as an extremely popular framework for market analysis. It is a part of the external analysis conducted while demonstrating an in-depth strategic analysis during new market entry or doing market research for a new product launch or even sometimes during a product extension, and gives an overview of the different macroenvironmental factors that the company has to take into consideration. It is a useful theoretical tool for estimating market growth or decline, business position, potential and direction for operations.

It is an important complementary extension of the Marketing Mix strategies and often it is used as an alternative analytical tool for Porter’s 5 forces model (although not appropriate for the same).

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What is Quality Research and a Good Research Paper

Often a question that plagues many a beginner research student is the major question: What is good research or How to write a good research paper. Often, this becomes a major headache for students striving to complete a dissertation for their masters programme or even their doctoral programme. So what are the dimensions of a high quality research or a high quality research paper that one needs to keep in mind while writing the same?

Typically, as I would go about it, a good research should follow a simple methodology which should transcend to a publishable good research paper. So here are the few basic steps which one should follow while writing a good research paper.

  1. First challenge is choosing the topic of the research. How does one identify what topic is actually a good topic of interest? A major point to ponder would be is the problem statement significant enough? How relevant is the context in the current scenario? If there is substantial past literature which has been already published, then it is likely that it is a good research topic, broadly. I would advise students who are yet to establish themselves in the academia to refrain from choosing topics which may be interesting, but would have very less literature to support the building blocks of the same.  Choose a title for your work, which brings out its essence within 5 to 12 (maximum 15) words.
  2. Research studies typically have 3 important dimensions: Applicability (relevance of the study to the outer world), Rigor of methodology (to allow replicability of the study and the findings and thus the falsifiability of the theory), and the generalizability of the findings/results/theory generated through the study. However, many senior researcher feel that it is difficult to address more than 2 of these dimensions stringently while conducting a research, without compromising the 3rd dimension.
  3. Next start with a thorough literature review in the area in which you are planning to do a study. Typically remember, most quality research papers would have more than 30-50 citations and these researchers would have gone through 3 times the number of cited literature while developing the study. Not only a detailed literature review clarifies what could be the possible contribution in the paper, but also will help you to get a very strong idea on what could be the possible ways to go about the research methodology for such a problem. While conducting a literature review, it is of paramount importance to validate the degree of authenticity of the sources based on which you would build your work.
  4. After a thorough review of literature is conducted, it is time to define the contribution of your study. Always remember, the best research works are often those which strive to make a small yet significantly clear contribution. Attempting a huge amount of contribution often affects the quality of the work.
  5. Next is the step of designing a research methodology.  Every research would be having an ideal methodology based on the focus of the study, the limitations of doing research in the problem domain and replicability of the methodology across other studies with a similar focus. typically research is often evaluated based on the methodological rigor with which the contributions are evaluated and subsequently highlighted.  However, due to practical reasons, one needs to remember that limitations of available resources like access to data, technology, connections and other factors often limit the scope of following a “tailor made research methodology” and this often is an inherent issue of the problem under investigation. Not all studies can follow the ideal path due to lack of resources available to travel on the same. However, research methodology is of paramount importance and care should be taken to ensure that the best possible methodology is undertaken while planning out the research design.
  6. Then comes the major question of going about with the planned methodology. In various studies, this phase would be different. Sometimes methodologies need to be modified from the one that was planned, in due course of progress in the study. In social sciences (business management, other social sciences) this would essentially be the data collection phase, while in the domain of technology, this may entail the development of algorithms/hardware to meet the objectives to extend existing theories. This is followed by the stage where the analysis is done (on the data collected, or through the new proposed algorithms or using new technology) and the results need to be rechecked with existing literature for their validity on how they concur yet extend the same. Every details in these steps should be noted so as to allow the replicability of the study by another research following your methodology on a similar problem.
  7. Finally the last question is how to go about writing a great dissertation paper. Ideally the paper should have few mandatory sections like a brief introduction to the topic highlighting its significance and what you contributed, and the boundaries of your study. Next important section is the detailed review of existing literature in the topic so as to be able to bring out the existing gaps in the same. Next important section is writing in details about the contribution of your research and compare the same with the existing literature, and highlighting what existing theories it takes forward or contradicts. Then comes the theory section where you should describe in details what is your main proposition (including the model) in the paper, by building on the blocks taken from existing literature. Then you should give a detailed explanation of your research methodology through which you attempted to provide empirical validation to your propositions in your study. Then you should discuss the results of the research after it is conducted. Finally in the conclusion section, you should discuss the significance of your propositions/findings and highlight how it concurs with existing body of knowledge and yet takes it further, or disagree with the existing body of knowledge, suggesting reasons for the the same. Some research papers would also like to end with few notes on the limitations of the study and future research directions for someone to extend your work.

Hope this helps all the students who are writing their dissertation paper. Do get back to me if you feel any important dimension which has been missed here, can be added back. Also, if you have any clarification, feel free to shoot them to me. Ph.D. with first class or equivalent at the preceding degree in the appropriate discipline. Research is an art which can only be guided by some professionals like PaperWritingHelp.net.

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