Research Activity Digest

Dr. Liza Jachens presents her research with leading humanitarian CEOs during “Organizational Culture Matters” session

Liza Jachens, Psychologist and faculty member at Webster Geneva Campus, joined Oxfam’s CEO and the CEO of Christian Aid for a session to share the results from her research of burnout and mental illness among humanitarian workers. The webinar was part of a broader series on Risk Management in Practice, organized for the CHS Alliance "Initiative to Cultivate Caring, Compassionate Aid Organisations" (the ICVA, the CHS Alliance, and PHAP jointly organized the session).

During the webinar, Melissa Pitotti, consultant for the ICVA-CHS Alliance joint project looking at the CEO role in driving organisational culture change and co-Initiator of this CHS Alliance Initiative, provided a summary of the findings generated from recent interviews and focus group discussions with CEOs. Amanda Khozi Mukwashi, CEO of Christian Aid, and Dhananjayan (Danny) Sriskandarajah, CEO of Oxfam GB, reflected on their own experiences leading culture change within their organizations. Ann Muraya, Director of Organisation Health for Thrive Worldwide, led a discussion on what it means to have a healthy organizational culture.

Arese Visconti presents at University of Westminster, CREAM Winter Symposium

On Dec. 14, Francesco Arese Visconti presented one chapter of his PhD research at the University of Westminster, CREAM Winter Symposium. The title of the presentation was "2006–2019: Photographic Representation of the New Italian Diaspora on the Arc Lémanique." After the Schwarzenbach initiatives and the oil crisis of the 1970s, Italian migration to Switzerland has decreased. However, with the beginning of the economic crisis in 2007, numbers show that Italians have started again to move to the Swiss Confederation. From 2006 to 2019 Italians resident abroad and registered on AIRE (Anagrafe Italiana Residenti all’Estero) increased of 70.2%, growing from 3.1 million to almost 5.3 million. In Jan. 2019 the exact number was 5.288.281. This recent phenomenon is very complex and multi-facet. To better understand the characteristics of the new Italian diaspora to Switzerland and how it has been visually represented, Francesco Arese Visconti presented the research that he has conducted in the archives of the magazines L’Illustré (2006–2019) and L’Hebdo (2006–2017) and online publications. The questions to which this part of his work is trying to answer are if there is really a new Italian diaspora phenomenon and if Italians are still considered migrants in public opinion. The aim of this presentation was also to summarize the findings of this part of the research and was based on two lines of reasoning. In the first part, supported by scholars’ theories, the new Italian diaspora can be framed in an historical/sociological context. In a second stance, the visual semiotic analysis of the images published in the media can support the narratives of this new migration phenomenon and develop links to the former diaspora of the 1960s and 1970s.

Open Lectures on Commodities during Fall 2 Trimester 2020 at Webster Geneva Campus

In the framework of his 8th annual course on commodities during Fall 2 trimester at Webster Geneva Campus, Dr. Rouben Indjikian organized a series of online open lectures on commodities for students, faculty and interested public. Three distinguished speakers from the commodities industry were hosted, covering themes on innovation in commodity supply chains and developments in agricultural commodities markets:

Tedd George, Chief Narrative Officer, Kleos Advisory, U.K. spoke on "Tradetech and the Digitalisation of the Commodity Value Chain," on Nov. 5; Vincent Minna, Business Development Leader, Covantis SA, presented the new concept of “Secure digital platform for commodity trade execution”, on Nov. 24; and finally Matthieu Delorme, Global Agriculture Director at Saybolt International made “An Introduction to the Agriculture Supply-/Value-Chain” on Nov. 26.

Tedd George started his presentation by giving the big picture of impressive increase in the use of ICTs and based on them online information and related e-commerce and e-payments in emerging and developing countries. He stressed the most impressive progress in China, which became the world leader in e-commerce and e-payments, moving actively from 4G to 5G mobile telecom standards. At the same time Africa also experienced a rapid growth in digitalisation of commerce and payments. Technologies of 4th Industrial revolution such as artificial intelligence (AI) and Blockchain are becoming important elements managing the commodity supply chains.

The ability to combine above and other technologies is the essence of tradetech, that permits to achieve further important efficiency gains and cost cuts in international trade in commodities. There are different companies working on application of AI, Blockchain, secure online ID and others. The optimal combination of those technologies is the way to advance innovation permitting to integrate different parts of a digitalised and secure commodity supply chain. Examples of controlling and streamlining commodity supply chains include: a leading supermarket chain in cooperation with a major technology provider using blockchain to control the distribution of commodities and thus spot inefficiencies; a system of monitoring cocoa supply chain: smart contracts permitting to pay miners immediately after extracting and starting transporting minerals.

Vincent Minna presented the Covantis business model, a joint venture including the leading world agri-traders, which are trying to cooperate by creating a major digitalised system based on blockchain technology. The traditional paper-based methods make difficult to reconcile data with counterparties and are quite exposed to data breaches and fraud. As a result, the working capital is allocated inefficiently and thus increases the cost of capital. This online system is exchanging contractual notices and other communications with peers with much faster information exchange, checking and amending functions. It is covering mainly sea transport logistics, based on standardised electronic documents that are supposed to diminish losses and thus overcome the wasteful and error-prone paperwork of all counterparties, participating in trade after concluding sales contracts (post-trade) and transportation by sea of such products as soybean, corn and wheat. Other soft commodities are also under consideration.

Covantis meets users’ expectations as it is a private distributed network ensuring encrypted data integrity, security and privacy, which cannot be repudiated. Each participant has it’s unique encryption key, while Covantis provides centralised services, including reference master data, user access management. Covantis is covering high sea port to port logistics and is not yet for a multimodal transportation. As a cooperative arrangement Covantis is not itself about profit maximization, but rather a value proposition for it’s users which are at the same time shareholders.

Matthieu Delorme in his presentation gave the big picture of the role of agricultural commodities in world trade and GDP, showing also the relative weights of different soft commodities. He stressed also the sustainability aspect, showing that while agriculture represents about 3-4% of the global GDP, and food industry reaches the level of 10%, both industries are responsible for 25% of global GHG emissions.

According to Delorme various drivers and megatrends are shaping supply of and demand for agricultural commodities. From supply side it includes combinations of fertility of land and availability of water, cost of land and labor, production technologies and economies of scale, infrastructure and logistics, and availability of capital. From demand side he stressed the changes in population, purchasing power, urbanization, food culture and diet preferences. As in other commodities, the China phenomenon was the most important factor. The near doubling of China’s share in world imports of agricultural commodities to more than 20% in last ten years was the biggest shift in volumes and geography of agricultural commodities trade flows. Supply and demand and changes in stocks were the main fundamentals shaping the price levels and dynamics of agricultural commodities markets. They created sophisticated supply chains that start from producers and continued by traders, transporters, processors and finally end with consumers. To run them smoothly they need many facilitators such as financiers, insurers, quality and quantity controllers, price risk managers, brokers, lawyers and others.