Elements of Public Policy


The governmental action of any nation can be understood in terms of several basic elements of public policy. Many factors, or inputs, influence the development of public policy. Government may determine its course of action on the basis of economic or foreign policy concerns, domestic political pressure from constituents and interest groups, technical information, and ideas that have emerged in national politics. Public policy also may be influenced by technical studies of complex issues such as taxation or the development of new technologies such as fiber optic electronics. All of these inputs can help shape what the government chooses to do and how it chooses to do it.

Public policy goals can be noble and high-minded or narrow and self-serving. National values, such as freedom, democracy, and equal opportunity for citizens to share in economic prosperity—that is, high-minded public policy goals—have led to the adoption of civil rights laws assistance programs for those in need. Narrow, self-serving goals are more evident when nations decide how tax legislation will allocate the burden of taxes among various interests and income groups. Public policy goals may vary widely, but it is always important to inquire: what public goals are being served by this action?

Governments use different public policy tools, or instruments, to achieve their policy goals. In general, the instruments of public policy are those combinations of incentives and penalties that government uses to prompt citizens, including businesses, to act in ways that achieve policy goals. Governmental regulatory powers are broad and constitute one of the most formidable instruments for accomplishing public purposes.

Public policy actions always have effects. Some are intended, others are unintended. Because public policies affect many people, organizations, and other interests, it is almost inevitable that such actions will please some and displease others. Regulations may cause businesses to improve the way toxic substances are used in the workplace, thus reducing health risks to employees. Yet it is possible that other goals may be obstructed as an unintended effect of compliance with such regulations.

In assessing any public policy, it is important for managers to develop answers to four questions:

  • What inputs will affect the public policy?
  • What goals are to be achieved?
  • What instruments are being used to achieve goals?
  • What effects, intended and unintended, are likely to occur?

The answers to these questions provide a foundation for understanding how any nation’s public policy actions will affect the economy and business sector.

My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir - Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please visit www.asifjmir.com, and my Lectures.

Ethical Problems in Product Strategy


Product quality, planned obsolescence, brand similarity, and packaging questions are significant concerns of consumers, managers, and governments. Competitive pressures have forced some marketers into packaging practices that may be considered misleading, deceptive, and/or unethical. Some firms make package larger than necessary to gain shelf space and consumer exposure in the supermarket. Odd-sized packages make price comparisons difficult. The real question seems to be whether these practices can be justified in the name of competition. Growing regulatory mandates appear to be narrowing the range of discretion in this area.

Product testing is another area that raises ethical concerns. To help assure consumers of product quality, many companies use seals of approval for their goods and services. Recently however consumers have begun to question whether the use of these seals is ethical, since they have to be purchased at fees ranging from $10,000 to $1 million. The seals also do not promise that the product is the best one on the market. Many of the organizations that offer seals of approval do not conduct product testing themselves or even compare brands.

My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir - Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please visit www.asifjmir.com, and my Lectures.

National Sovereignty and Corporate Power


Multinational corporations present real challenges to a nation’s sovereignty and independence. The national sovereignty principle holds that a nation is a sovereign state whose laws, customs, and regulations must be respected. It means that a national government has the right, power, and authority to create laws, rules, and regulations regarding business conducted within its borders.

The second principle that shapes business-government relations in most countries is the business legitimacy principle. This principle holds that a company’s behavior is legitimate if it complies with the laws of the nation and responds to the expectations of its stakeholders. In theory, the principles of national sovereignty and business legitimacy are not in conflict.

As multinational corporations reach across national borders, their global operations may exceed the regulatory influence of national governments. This has raised concerns about the emergence of stateless corporation. These corporations have facilities, shareholders, and customers everywhere. Therefore, they seem to owe loyalty to no single nation and are able to organize and recognize around the globe. There are economic and political advantages to being, or appearing to be, stateless.

My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir - Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please visit www.asifjmir.com, and my Lectures.

Coping with Red Tape


No business operates in a vacuum or under a glass dome. New businesses are subject to the pressures and requirements of society’s legal and regulatory system. If you need a trademark, a company brand, or a patent, or if you’re thinking of becoming incorporated, you will definitely need legal help. Many other situations require the help of a lawyer too.

Likewise, you’ll be coping with government regulations, many of which were written with larger businesses in mind are applied to SMEs anyway. Disposing off hazardous wastes, for example, may be difficult for small companies, which typically lack their own water-treatment facilities. Similarly, small businesses may have problems complying with disabilities laws, designed to ensure that disabled consumers receive the same level of services as other customers. Thus SMEs may be required to make costly modifications to their facilities or prove that doing so would pose an economic hardship.

My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir - Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please visit www.asifjmir.com, and my Lectures.

Regulation, Deregulation


Regulation is the increase or expansion of government regulation, especially in areas where the regulatory activities had previously been reduced. Deregulation is the removal or scaling down of regulatory authority and regulatory activities of government.

There is legitimate need for government regulation in modern economies, but regulation is not without its problems. Businesses feel these problems first-hand, often because the regulations directly affect the cost of products and the freedom of managers to design their business operations. In the modern economy, there are serious issues of regulatory cost and effectiveness that cannot be overlooked.

The call for regulation may seem irresistible to government leaders and officials, but there are always costs to regulation. In recent years, more attention has been given to the costs of government regulation. An old economy adage says, “There is no free lunch. Someone equally has to pay for the benefits created.” This is the rule of cost, and it applies in all socio-economic systems, whether free market or central state control.

My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir - Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please visit www.asifjmir.com, and my Lectures.

Codes of Ethics for Financial Executives


Financial Executives International (FEI) recommends that all senior financial professionals adhere to a strong ethical code of conduct, sign it annually, and deliver it to their company’s board of directors. Fr many years, members of FEI have signed such a code, in an effort to commit to its principles. Senior financial officers hold an important and elevated role in corporate governance. As members of the various management teams, they are uniquely capable and empowered to ensure that all stakeholders’ interests are appropriately balanced, protected, and preserved.

FEI’s code provides principles to which members are expected to adhere to and to advocate. It embodies rules regarding individual and peer responsibilities, as well as, responsibilities to employers, the public, and other stakeholders. Violations of EFI’s Code of Ethics may subject the member to ensure, suspension or expulsion under procedural rules adopted by FEI’s Board of Directors. The code states that all members of FEI will:

  1. Act with honesty and integrity, avoiding actual or apparent conflicts of interest in personal and professional relationships.
  2. Provide constituents with information that is accurate, complete, objective, relevant, timely, and understandable.
  3. Comply with applicable rules and regulations of federal, state, provincial, and local governments, and other appropriate private and public regulatory agencies.
  4. Act in good faith, responsibly, with due care, competence and diligence, without misrepresenting material facts or allowing one’s independent judgment to be substantiated.
  5. Respect the confidentiality of information acquired in the course of one’s work except when authorized or otherwise legally obligated to disclose. Confidential information acquired in the course of one’s work will not be used for personal advantage.
  6. Share knowledge and maintain skills important and relevant to constituents’ needs.
  7. Proactively promote ethical behavior as a responsible partner among peers, in the work environment and the community.
  8. Achieve responsible use of and control over all assets and resources employed or entrusted.
  9. Report known or suspected violations of this Code in accordance with the FE Rules of Procedure.
  10. Be accountable for adhering to the Code.

My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir - Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please visit www.asifjmir.com, and my Lectures.

Unrestrained Empowerment: Value Killer


A bank performs many different functions, but in the long run it has value for its customers only if it handles their money accurately and safely. Therefore the foundation of every role within the bank, whether it is trader, investment adviser, or teller, is the need to do it accurately and safely. To show employees exactly what it means to be “accurate” or “safe,” the banking industry has defined regulatory steps, and each bank has its own internal guidelines. The bank’s employees must adhere to these. This isn’t the only part of their job, but it is the foundational part. Any manager who forgets this, who gives his employees too much room to maneuver, runs the risk of destroying the bank’s value.

All roles demand some level of accuracy or safety, and therefore all roles require employees to execute some standardized steps. Great managers know that it is their responsibility to ensure that their employees know these steps and can execute them perfectly. If that flies in the face of individuality, so be it. Unrestrained empowerment can be a value killer.

My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir - Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please visit www.asifjmir.com, Line of Sight

The Blue-sky Laws


Government regulation and intervention is very pervasive in our daily lives, especially in business activities. That intervention is both supportive and restrictive. Also, it is constantly changing. The intent of government is generally to provide justice, orderliness, and fairness. A realistic observer may also perceive a governmental desire to play Robin Hood. Some entrepreneurs will find themselves the objects of Robin’s beneficence. Most owner-managers see too much of his ever-present Merry Men.

Entrepreneurs usually don’t concern themselves much with the creation and enforcement of government regulations. Being realistic, they just want to know the rules. They ask how it works and then go on about the business of building their enterprise. Because entrepreneurs need all the help they can get, they will use the rules and regulations that can in any way help the business. If the rules are not helpful they will avoid getting into a position where the rules interfere with the progress of the business. The problem for entrepreneurs is that the regulatory bureaucracy is so massive and complex that they have trouble understanding the rules.

The specialists who devote their professional lives to understanding rules and providing guidance to the rest of us must concentrate on a small segment of the rules to be able to keep up with the changes and the latest nuances in interpretation. This results in the need for many specialists. Despite the burden on time and financial resources, however, it is most prudent to obtain sufficient advice and guidance at least to avoid the wrath and interference of the regulators.

My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir - Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please visit www.asifjmir.com, Line of Sight

Compelling Business Principles


The development of the business principles is a first stage for developing and raising the standards of practice in countering bribery. The fair business principles provide a practical tool to which companies can look for a comprehensive reference to good practice to counter bribery. Business principles are becoming an essential tool in the future for businesses and the companies of today should encourage using them as a starting point for developing their own anti-bribery systems or as a benchmark.

I had heard and even observed how corrupt practices are carried out in businesses that add the extras to win export orders. For toting up luster to the evenings of the visiting business partners particularly from Gulf States, they fix up their visits to discotheques and nightspots. They also maintain luxury flats outfitted with floozy beauties for making the stay of the business guests a unique affair.

Unfortunately, such unethical practices have sneaked into the system via some (not all) businesses in different countries. That’s what I personally experienced when once as member of a foreign business team visiting an Asian country and staying at a luxury hotel, a businessman tried unethical tricks to win business contracts. He called from the lobby and told about the undeserved and undesired gift he brought for me.

Years ago in a domestic flight to the capital in a country in Asia a passenger seated next to me told that he was visiting the capital about a government tender. He was confident that he would win the contract. When I asked about the source of his confidence he pointed to two girls seated in the rear and said, “Those butterflies (exquisite women) will make it happen.”

Most of companies contribute to election campaigns of this candidate or that. Interestingly sometimes some companies sponsor candidates of two opposing political parties. The idea is to get unjustifiable favors after the horse wins.

There can be endless list of such companies, which are ready to do anything to get business favors.

It is no mystery that a lapse in business ethics or even the appearance of one can significantly harm the reputation and business of a company. Once a company is suspected, accused, or found guilty of corporate wrongdoing, it often becomes subject to the scrutiny of governmental agencies, the corporate community and the general public.

Private sector organizations must now take account of increasingly stringent domestic and international regulatory frameworks. There is growing corporate awareness of the risks posed by bribery, particularly in the light of scandals, and the public is expecting greater accountability and probity from the corporate sector.

Emphasis needs to be laid on business principles for enterprises to prohibit bribery in any form whether direct or indirect. They should also commit to implementation of programs for countering bribery. These principles are based on a commitment to fundamental values of integrity, transparency and accountability. Firms should aim to create and maintain a trust-based and inclusive internal culture in which bribery is not tolerated.

Thus an enterprise’s anti-bribery efforts including values, policies, processes, training and guidance will become tools of future corporate governance and risk management strategies for countering bribery and unethical practices.

As part of civil society, at macro level, Federation of the Chambers of Commerce and Industry should work out a framework reflecting size of the companies, business sectors, potential risks and locations of operations. This should, clearly and in reasonable detail, articulate values, policies and procedures for preventing bribery from occurring in all activities under their effective control.

Such programs should be consistent with all laws relevant to countering bribery in all the jurisdictions in which an enterprise operates, particularly laws that are directly relevant to specific business practices.

At micro level each enterprise should develop programs in consultation with its employees, trade unions or other employee representative bodies. It should ensure that it is informed of all matters material to the effective development of the program by communicating with relevant interested parties.

While developing its program for countering bribery, the companies should analyze which specific areas pose the greatest risks from bribery. The programs should address the most prevalent forms of bribery relevant to each firm but at a minimum should cover areas such as bribes, political contributions, facilitation payments, gifts, hospitality and expenses.

A company should prohibit the offer, gift, or acceptance of a bribe in any form, including kickbacks, on any portion of a contract payment, or the use of other routes or channels to provide improper benefits to customers, agents, contractors, suppliers or employees of any such party or government officials.

It should also prohibit an employee from arranging or accepting a bribe or kickback from customers, agents, contractors, suppliers, or employees of any such party or from government officials, for the employee’s benefit or that of the employee’s family, friends, associates or acquaintances.

The enterprise, its employees or agents should not make direct or indirect contributions to political parties, organizations or individuals engaged in politics, as a way of obtaining advantage in business transactions.

Each company should publicly disclose all its political contributions, charitable contributions and sponsorships. It should ensure that charitable contributions and sponsorships are not being used as a subterfuge for bribery.

The enterprise should prohibit the offer or receipt of gifts, hospitality or expenses whenever such arrangements could affect the outcome of business transactions and are not reasonable and bona fide expenditures.

The board of directors, CEOs and senior management should demonstrate visible and active commitment to the implementation of the business principles.

The business organizations should assert elimination of bribery; demonstrate their commitment to countering bribery; and make a positive contribution to improving business standards of integrity, transparency and accountability wherever they operate. Business principles are going to evolve reflection of changes in anti-bribery practice as well as the lessons learned from their use and application by business.

My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir - Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please contact www.asifjmir.com, Line of Sight

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