Fletcher Reads the Newspaper

Reading Newspaper in Hall of FlagsEvery day, the headlines cross borders of many kinds: those of countries, cultures, and disciplines. The MIB program seeks to make sense of those headlines for our students, using the rich pool of faculty and experts that we have at our disposal.

As a part of our “Fletcher Reads the Newspaper” series, we pick several hot news items each semester.  We gather an interdisciplinary panel of Fletcher experts to examine the issues, and from there invite students to approach the problem as they would a case study to offer solutions and strategies for dealing with the issues. All sessions are moderated by Dean Bhaskar Chakravorti as a joint problem-solving/consulting event with the objective of creating a set of practical recommendations for the relevant decision-makers: CEOs, political leaders, heads of multi-lateral bodies, NGOs, and entrepreneurs.

We invite you to read more about recent Fletcher Reads the Newspaper events.

Is Nation Building Possible Without Business Building?
Is Nation Building Possible Without Business Building?
Left to right, FRTN panelists Dr. Mowaffak al Rubaie, Ibrahim Warde, Gerry Brown and moderator Dean Bhaskar Chakravorti

The Headlines

Investment Opportunities in Iraq
Baghdad Fast Food Boom: American-Style Chains And Knock-Offs Proliferate

The Issue

Amid the scars of continued sectarian violence in Iraq there is a new player emerging in the streets of Baghdad: American-style fast food chains. KFC, Pizza Hut and other American fast food brands, so ubiquitous in many emerging market capitals, have been absent from this recent trend. Instead, the growing market is being driven by locally grown knock-off restaurants, including ‘Burger Friends,’ ‘Chili House,’ and ‘Florida Fried Chicken,’ to name just the few.

Dr. Mowaffak al Rubaie, the former Iraqi National Security Adviser, joined Fletcher students and professors to discuss the challenges American businesses face in Iraq and the steps needed for companies like Yum Brand to open shop in the streets of Baghdad.

The Experts

  • Dr. Mowaffak al Rubaie: Fletcher Statesman in Residence, former Iraqi National Security Advisor
  • Professor Ibrahim Warde: expert on the socio, political and economic subtleties of the Islamic world
  • Gerry Brown: Institute for Economic Stability, The Gordon Institute; Director of Industry Revitalization for the Task Force on Improving Business and Stability Operations in Iraq at the Department of Defense
  • Moderator: Dean Bhaskar Chakravorti

The Recommendations

  • Yum Brands and other American companies should focus on opening stores in the growing number of secure, Western-style malls in and around Baghdad.
  • The Iraqi government should enable and connect potential franchise owners to interested investors.
Privacy and Security in the Age of Snowden
NSA Headquarters - Fort Meade
Photo credit: NSA.gov

The Headlines

Can tech titans really tackle the NSA over the Constitution?
Twitter, Facebook and more demand changes to US surveillance
Companies moving their technology overseas to avoid NSA spying

The Issue

What happens when cyber-security and the public and private sectors intersect? How do we find a balance between the need for intelligence gathering by governments and the implications for technology companies such as Google, Twitter, and Yahoo?

Fletcher students and faculty gathered for a spirited discussion on the appropriate balance between privacy and security in the age of Edward Snowden, NSA surveillance, and societies increasingly built around the internet. Participants wrestled to both define the importance of privacy and security and propose meaningful responses for businesses most affected by controversial surveillance activities.

The Experts

The Recommendations

Student recommendations included:

  • Giving individual users access to all of the information collected about them
  • Implementing broad public education initiatives to ensure all users are aware of what information may be collected about them and how to protect their privacy online

Read the full event report

The Rana Plaza Tragedy and the Supply Chain Implication

Factory Collapse
 Photo credit: Flickr
The Headlines

Global retailers urged to compensate Rana Plaza victims
Lapses in governance rife in Bangladesh garment factories
Pressure on business to show more supply chain accountability

The Issue

In April 2013, the Bangladeshi garment industry, which is second only to China in manufacture of ready-made garments, made headlines for the death of more than 1,100 workers in the tragic collapse of the Rana Plaza factory. The collapse, and others like it, have raised questions about the effects of hyper-competition in garment industry manufacturing and the extent to which global corporations have any insights into and, more importantly, control over safety in their global supply chains.

The Experts

The Recommendations

Student recommendations included:

  • Establishing an independent trade body to help reform Bangladesh’s 2006 labor law, including provisions that would allow for greater unionization and bargaining power
  • Allocating greater responsibility to auditors in charge of inspecting garment factories
  • Creating a consortium of global retailers who will identify what the private sector can do to ensure tragedies like the Rana Plaza factory collapse don’t happen again

Read the full event report.