London Business School professor urges companies to come up with specific purpose in polycrisis era

By Kim Joo-heon Posted : March 21, 2023, 18:33 Updated : March 22, 2023, 09:53

[Photograph by Yoo Dae-gil =]

SEOUL -- Alex Edmans, a finance professor at London Business School, urged companies to utilize their strengths to overcome the global polycrisis, which refers to multiple social crises such as inflation, COVID-19, and the Russia-Ukraine war. At a conference held in Seoul, the British scholar highlighted LG Electronics commercializing a robot that disinfects surfaces using ultraviolet light amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
LG Electronics' autonomous quarantine robot was commercialized in April 2022 to sterilize public places and hospitals. The robot called "CLOi UV-C" can carry out non-face-to-face quarantine without time restrictions, using ultraviolet-C lamps mounted on the left and right sides of the body. The UV-C lamp removes 99.999 percent of harmful bacteria in spaces within 50 centimeters (19.6 inches). 
"A polycrisis world is a VUCA world. What does VUCA mean? I'm sure some of you know it means volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous," Edmans said, adding acting with a specific purpose is crucial for companies.
He has also complimented South Korean companies such as SK Telecom, a major mobile carrier that developed AI system capable of monitoring symptoms of quarantined COVID-19 patients, and two internet giants -- Naver and Kakao -- for providing vaccine passes and vaccine booking systems.
According to Edmans, it is essential to think about why companies exist and who their business is for. He claimed entrepreneurs should focus on strengthening employees' capabilities and delegate authority to workers. He also said business operators should come up with solutions through strong partnerships.
The 32-minute lecture was conducted at the 16th Asia-Pacific Financial Forum (APFF) opened at Seoul Plaza Hotel's Grand Ballroom in central Seoul on March 21 under the theme of "The Era of the Global 'Polycrisis' is Coming." Economists including Barry Eichengreen and Charles Goodhart presented their ideas on various issues such as high-interest rates and the U.S.-China conflict. 
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