The Conference Board Review

The Conference Board's opinion magazine, founded in 1976 as Across the Board and shuttered in June 2014.

Featured Writers

Vadim Liberman

I may not always know the right answers, but by tackling the right questions, I aim to elevate ...

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Skills: Reporter, Feature Writer, Editor, Blogger
Specialisms: Lifestyle, Journalism, Features, Culture, Business

Matthew Budman

I'm author of the forthcoming Book Collecting Now: The Value of Print in a Digital Age. As an ...

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Skills: Editor
Specialisms: Art

Latest Articles

What's the Big Idea? Q&A with Stuart Crainer

For more than two decades, in articles (including for this magazine) and books, U.K. writing team Stuart Crainer and Des Dearlove have chronicled, analyzed, and explained the world of business thinking. They've read every strategy book and interviewed every management guru. From the beginning, Crainer and Dearlove tried to compile the most valuable and relevant ideas for senior executives without the time to sort through an entire bookshelf. And a dozen years ago, they formalized that process by creating Thinkers50, a biannual project identifying key thinkers around the world and ranking their influence and importance.

Who's Holding You Accountable? Q&A with Christine Bader

"I don’t believe that idealism and business acumen are mutually exclusive—in fact, I think quite the opposite.” Christine Bader has spent her career at the intersection of the corporate and nonprofit worlds, aiming to instill responsibility in corporate practice while adding value. She worked at BP for nine years, leaving in the wake of the 2005 Texas City explosion, as the company’s progressive priorities were starting to shift, and before the Deepwater Horizon disaster. But throughout her tenure there, she writes, “my goal was to align the interests of the company and the community, not to compensate for or distract from wrongdoing.”

Openers: Corporate Unsustainability

To many people outside the business world, sustainability is just corporatespeak for environmental concerns. Inside, its meaning keeps expanding to encompass every point at which an organization interacts with the rest of the world—supply chains, product life cycles, risk. Indeed, for many companies, after years of work reducing emissions and waste, it’s easy being green—it’s everything else that’s a problem.

A Slow Transition: Bart van Ark's 2014 economic forecast

"The growth performance in mature economies will improve in 2014, but that doesn't mean we're out of the woods yet." After a disappointing 2013, hampered by corporate hesitancy and political paralysis, the global economy could use clear direction and stability, but that's not happening. Yet things will look somewhat brighter in the mature economies, especially in the United States, projects Bart van Ark, chief economist of The Conference Board. It's the rest of the world—those countries whose rapid growth has driven the global economy—that are looking a little shaky going forward. "In the emerging markets, particularly in China, we'll see a lot more volatility," van Ark says. "And you need to prepare for that volatility."

Stop Texting Under the Table: Q&A with Barbara Pachter

How does one dress for a Skype conversation with an etiquette expert? Barbara Pachter writes: “Make sure your clothing is appropriate. Just because you are not meeting in person does not mean the interviewer or business associate cannot see what you are wearing. And don’t assume only your upper body is showing. Dress professionally from head to toe.” Honestly, “. . . to toe” seemed excessive, and fortunately, Pachter didn’t insist on a full-body scan. In "The Essentials of Business Etiquette: How to Greet, Eat, and Tweet Your Way to Success" (McGraw- Hill), she takes on a wide range of up-to-date proper business behavior, from how to properly shake hands to warnings to spend less time on Twitter—which, really, seems like advice that shouldn’t need to be given. “Yes,” she agrees. “But we’re not quite there yet with social media. There’s a learning curve. I think in another couple of years, everyone will know the guidelines. But the difficulty with technology, the good and the bad, is that as soon as we overcome a major hurdle, there’s a new type of technology out there, and we have to start all over again!”

Of Ill Repute: Q&A with Jon Macey of Yale

What do your customers and business partners think of you? Reputation is integral to how companies decide whether and how to do business with each other, and how consumers choose between firms. But according to Jonathan R. Macey, Sam Harris Professor of Corporate Law, Corporate Finance, and Securities Law at Yale University, reputation means a lot less these days, particularly in the world of finance.

Good Leaders, Bad Leaders: Q&A with Bob Lutz

Bob Lutz has spent close to half a century working for and alongside the men running much of the auto industry—and he’s kept track of what strategies work and which don’t, which leadership strategies are effective and which aren’t, which CEO foibles are irritating and which are fatal. For him, there’s nothing theoretical about leadership—it’s embodied by real-life people tasked with getting things done and inspiring followers.

Openers: Forced Leisure

What’s the point of machines? More than anything, of course, it’s to replace work, and people have long envisioned a world in which labor-saving devices save more than just a little bit of labor. Novelists have often waxed utopian—consider Edward Bellamy’s 1888 socialist bestseller "Looking Backward: 2000-1887," which imagined an age of post-scarcity leisure, with short working hours and universal retirement at age 45.

Openers: Grease Is the Word

It goes without saying that bribery is wrong and bad and hurts business in both the long and short terms. It hurts companies that participate in corruption; it hurts economies that tolerate it. But as senior editor Vadim Liberman writes in this issue’s cover story, eradicating bribery requires more than HR posting a policy on the intranet.

Nature Conservancy head Mark Tercek aims to turn business green

>In a way, you’re aiming to redefine how we see nature. I’m arguing that people—environmentalists, businesspeople, everyone—shouldn’t just love nature. It’s more important to *value* nature, understanding that nature is the infrastructure that produces clean air to breathe, good food and fish to eat, clean water to drink, atmosphere that provides stable living conditions. Everybody is in favor of those things, but we’ve all taken them for granted for a very long time.

Who's Winning the Hunger Games?: Q&A with Michael Moss

For years, New York Times reporter Michael Moss has been delivering the inside story on what we eat, and the result hasn’t always made readers hungry—in 2010, he won a Pulitzer Prize for “relentless reporting on contaminated hamburger and other food safety issues.” Two words: pink slime. In his new book, "Salt Sugar Fat: How the Food Giants Hooked Us" (Random House), Moss writes about far more appealing grocery items: Lay’s Potato Chips and Dr Pepper and Snickers and Hot Pockets and Chips Ahoy! and Pop-Tarts and Capri Sun and Frosted Mini-Wheats. As much as we know we should bypass those colorful packages—really, we should skip those store aisles altogether—most of us can’t help being sucked in. Why? After years of manufacturers’ loading up processed foods with salt, sugar, and fat, we’re hardwired to crave those ingredients.

A Higher Consciousness: Q&A with Whole Foods co-CEO John Mackey

“Do you know how most corporations get their mission statement?” John Mackey asks. “They hire consultants who come in and write it for them. So it’s not authentic; it didn’t come out of the essence of what that business is.” Mackey, cofounder and co-CEO of Whole Foods, is severely critical of business as traditionally practiced. Basically, he’d like every company to be run as his own is: highly collaborative, egalitarian, empowering, green, and closely integrated with the community—in other words, conscious. Businesses that are so enlightened, he insists, will not only outperform competitors that look no further than the stock ticker—they will rescue society from its various ills. Mackey has spent the last thirty-plus years building a company epitomizing these values and the last several evangelizing to the world in speeches and at conferences; with "Conscious Capitalism: Liberating the Heroic Spirit of Business" (Harvard Business Review Press), written with Raj Sisodia, he expands his thinking to book length. “We believe,” they write, “that the way forward for humankind is to liberate the heroic spirit of business and our collective entrepreneurial creativity so they can be free to solve the many daunting challenges we face.”

A Rebuilding Year: Bart van Ark's 2013 economic forecast

Bart van Ark, chief economist of The Conference Board, would love to be optimistic about the direction of the global economy. But he’d rather be right. When he looks at Europe (recession-weary and facing potential shocks to come), China, India, and Brazil (dramatically slowing), and the United States (still in political stalemate), he sees a world having trouble getting back on track. That’s not to say that van Ark is urging CEOs to remain cautious and conservative when it comes to investment and expansion—emerging economies’ maturation in particular provides real opportunities for companies looking to offer a wider range of goods and services. A slow-growth economy truly can have an upside.