Outside Borders

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On November 26, 2017, Outside Borders commented on Will Brexit spring a leak in AstraZeneca’s talent pool? :

Thank you for your insightful analysis on the subject.

That said, however, I must disagree with your main premise. Fortunately, even in a post-hard-Brexit world, the costs of importing talent from outside the UK is not actually all that high – indeed, it is a far less risky proposition than even here in the United States.

In a worst-case scenario, importing talent from continental Europe post-Brexit would entail a similar process as that of talent from elsewhere in the world. That process, currently, costs organizations less than two thousand dollars (https://www.admin.ox.ac.uk/personnel/permits/tier2/overseas/costandpaymentofapplications/). To an organization like Astrazeneca, this, truly, is a drop in the bucket. As such, Brexit is unlikely to affect the hiring practices of AstraZeneca.

I disagree with the premise that Walmart has a responsibility to American consumers. The very notion does not exist in a capitalist market – rational consumers will go where the prices are lowest for the given quality they seek, and they will have no loyalty to the organization selling to them.

Were Walmart to source its products in the US, its price competitiveness is likely to decline due to higher labor rates. Competitors, especially those small enough to operate outside the radar of the current administration, will manufacture abroad, sell similar products for less, and gain market share as a consequence.

Unless the average consumer is fundamentally irrational (I would argue they tend to be more rational than not, though unfortunately this is not a given), the plausible outcome shifting manufacturing back to the US is a) more jobs for Americans (which arguably is unnecessary, given already low rates of c. 4.4% adult unemployment), b) declining Walmart market share and c) declining Walmart profitability. Walmart, in all likelihood, will lose.

Consequently, the Walmart execs ought not be asked to shoot themselves in the foot because someone thinks that a job in place X is for some reason more valuable than a job in place Y. I, for one, argue that an employed family is an employed family, wherever they might reside.

On November 26, 2017, Outside Borders commented on Pass The (Cassava) Beer: Diageo’s Response to Water Scarcity :

To your first question – I am fairly certain that developing markets will become accustomed to the taste of these new liquors and beers. As the price of water increases with a diminished supply, traditional alcoholic drinks will become more expensive. As these markets tend to be particularly price sensitive due to low levels of disposable income, market forces are likely to ensure increased adoption.

We can observe two examples that illustrate this trend: kretek cigarettes in Indonesia (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kretek) and alcohol substitute abuse in Russia (https://www.nytimes.com/2016/12/19/world/europe/russia-bath-lotion-deaths.html). Assuming the new alcoholic beverages are less harmful and more tasty than either kretek cigarettes or bath lotion, I deem mass adoption as a consequence of low pricing plausible in most developing markets.

Thank you for your insightful analysis of the impact of climate change on the cocoa business.

Regarding your second question – any diversification on the part of existing farmers will lead to lower cocoa output, assuming all other factors remain the same. This causes Cargill to enter into a bit of a principal-agent problem: the company has an incentive to encourage farmers not to diversify to increase its already-threatened cocoa supply, but farmers themselves are better off diversifying to ensure a sustainable livelihood in poor cocoa years.

Assuming the organization is serious about its sustainability commitments as outlined in your essay (a very serious question in its own right, given the lack of transparency), it is best served to encourage farmers to grow cocoa in other locations or further improve yields on existing farms.

On November 26, 2017, Outside Borders commented on #hacked: the proliferation of fake news bots on Twitter :

Thank you for your insightful discussion on the topic. I believe Twitter should only be held responsible for the dissemination of information that directly encourages violence. That responsibility, without question, ought to fall on all parties involved – governments, corporations, news media and individuals alike.

Other metrics – such as content accuracy or quality are often subject to the interpretation of the viewer. How can one rely on a corporation to police such metrics without introducing bias? As we have seen, similar platforms to Twitter have struggled with this in the very recent past (https://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2016/may/23/facebook-admits-rogue-employees-may-have-shown-bia/)

In today’s hyper-polarized world, one cannot rely on humans to police each others’ content. Leave it with violence – one thing most of us can agree on must avoided at all costs – and allow people to make up their minds regarding accuracy or quality of other content.

On November 26, 2017, Outside Borders commented on Can Singapore port survive the digitization storm ? :

Fully agree with your analysis. It seems that, in the push to digitization, organizations have prioritized the rollout of digital solutions, but often forget about how their plans fit into the industry as a whole – with wasted resources as an inevitable consequence.

It seems that Singapore in particular has done an excellent job of not only leading the charge, but ensuring that the rest of the industry follows the same standard. According to this (https://www.joc.com/maritime-news/short-sea-shipping/two-asia-europe-port-hubs-drive-digitize_20170606.html), the port has done an excellent job of integrating its solutions with other leading ports around the world, notably Rotterdam. I keenly look forward to watching the shipping industry follow a single digital standard in the years to come!