Anticipate and manage for geopolitical, trade, corporate governance codes and regulators changes

This blogpost is shared as part of a series of insights from INSEAD Directors Network, based on roundtable discussions held during INSEAD Directors Forum October 2018. The Directors Forum Round Table Discussions were held with IDN members led by IDN board members or IDN Ambassadors.

The roundtable discussion was led by Cleopatra Kitti, IDN Ambassador Cyprus, with the introduction

Anticipate & manage for geopolitical, trade, corporate governance codes & regulators changes

  • Anticipate: Define, Measurement, Audit

  • Proactive VS Reactive: crisis management, resonse mechanism, measurement and evaluation

  • What does this mean for the Board? (perspective, information, connecting the dots, risk measurement, scenario planning, regular review)

* Pre-Reading:

Measuring Geopolitical Risk, Dario Caldaraa and Matteo Iacoviello

ILLUSTRATION BY    COSTAS MANTZALOS

ILLUSTRATION BY COSTAS MANTZALOS

As disruption is the key word for business society and of the wider operating environment for boards, there is much discussion on how to anticipate and navigate through such a complex environment. Especially when decisions need to be taken within short, medium, and longer term horizons.

The context: The benchmarks and guide books of performance shift goalposts: In capital markets there is much debate on assessing performance and return on investment not in quarterly results but over a longer horizon; governance codes differ region by region or country by country; whilst disruption by politics, trade wars and social movements add an additional layer of complexity for performance.

This complexity calls for strong business ethics, culture and values at the top, at board level.

Our pre-reading looked at how different global institutions and boards identify, measure and respond to risk and opportunity. How markets, politics and society interact and intercept progress. How Information flow for proactive and reactive decision making tools are important elements to board work and decision making.

The discussion: after setting the context and key parameters for our discussion, we centered on two case studies brought forward by fellow IDN directors:

  • One case study dealt with governance and decision making at board level of a sovereign wealth fund, required to decide on a cross border investment decision that had political significance with less significant investment value. This is a real time case study;

  • the other case study looked at a national, publicly listed telecommunications company where the board decision on international expansion led the company down the path of missed opportunity and eventual loss of market share.

We identified these important parameters:

  • Geopolitics is seen as a “long term” impact and usually falls outside the core competence of most directors

  • Proactive and reactive measurement tools, scorecards, or benchmarks of success are required tools for level playing field decision making

  • The unclear landscape of differing governance codes and regulations across jurisdictions creates unclear paths to decision making

  • The board must understand the “timing” element of its decision making

  • The composition of the board must reflect the differing dimensions today’s complex business environment

Conclusion:  Boards are operating in an increasingly complex environment of politics, markets, trade wars and social movements, which calls for in increased focus from directors setting the agenda and decisions based on ethics and values driven by the top of the organization’s leadership.

By Cleopatra Kitti

Certified Independent Director IDP-C, NED and IDN Ambassador Cyprus