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Beginning of a Decade TIPSHEET – Business

Dec. 14, 2009, 2:32 PM

Corporate responsibility and sustainability efforts could thrive beyond recession
A key question for the next decade is whether corporations will stick to their commitments to corporate responsibility and sustainability in the wake of a global recession. “Has it become so integrated into the way business is done that it will endure in the face of widespread cost-cutting?” asks Jim Schorr, clinical professor of management and a leading authority on issues of social enterprise and entrepreneurship. Schorr says he sees anecdotal evidence that leading companies are not pulling back but doubling down on such efforts. “Corporate sustainability can and will be a source of competitive advantage in a future where these issues are increasingly mainstream. Recent studies suggest that sustainability-focused companies are outperforming their peers financially in the downturn. Contact: Schorr@owen.vanderbilt.edu

Fundamental reforms needed to solve complex policy problems such as health care
Solving complex policy problems will continue to be difficult without fundamental reforms of political processes to limit the influence of corporate interests, according to Bruce Barry, Brownlee O. Currey Jr. Professor of Management and professor of sociology. Despite the recent financial tumult, the industry is vigorously lobbying to preserve the status quo. Barry predicts that “financial institutions will continue to take little responsibility for their role in inducing a credit crisis.” The longer term question is whether the nation will continue to allow disproportionate corporate influence over policy goals and outcomes, he said. A first test: The health care reform debate. Contact: Bruce.barry@vanderbilt.edu

Accountability key to health care reform
The focus of health care reform should be on spending less money while delivering better care, said Larry Van Horn, associate professor of health care management and director of health care programs at Vanderbilt’s Owen Graduate School of Management. “We cannot afford the current consumption of services. The cultural focus is on finding someone else to pay with no accountability for lifestyle choices and their impact on health care demand,” says Van Horn, who is writing a book with U.S. Rep. Jim Cooper on the business of health care. Health care currently accounts for 17.5 percent of the gross domestic product. It’s predicted to rise to 25 percent within 15 years. At 22 percent of the GDP, he says, drastic changes such as defense cuts would have to be made to pay for health care. Contact: Larry.vanhorn@owen.vanderbilt.edu

Social networking rapidly changing culture of marketing

How do companies brand themselves when customers themselves create and disseminate the message through social networking? It’s clear the world of one-way ads is changing fast, but it’s still unclear in what direction it’s headed. That’s something of great interest to scholars like Jennifer Escalas, associate professor of marketing. “Companies are still in the process of figuring out how to use these new technologies and how to engage consumers in a two-way conversation that benefits their organization,” Escalas says. An expert on brands, identification and culture, she studies how people make a personal connection to brands. Contact: Jennifer.escalas@owen.vanderbilt.edu

Media contact: Jennifer Johnston (615) 322-NEWS
jennifer.johnston@vanderbilt.edu

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