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With easy access to powerful computer tools and sophisticated software, many companies today rely on spreadsheets to help make optimisation modelling more intuitive and understandable to their executives. But, warns, Larry LeBlanc, professor of operations management and information technology at Vanderbilt Owen Graduate School of Management, such widespread usage brings with it the potential for spreadsheet errors, which in turn could have costly repercussions for the company involved.

”Only recently have companies begun to recognise spreadsheet error as a significant problem, says Prof LeBlanc. He has come up with several suggestions companies could adopt to avoid these pitfalls.

Meanwhile, if you want to persuade a high-profile individual to give to your cause, you could do worse than invite them to a dinner party. New research has found that an invitation to an exclusive event is by far the strongest incentive when it comes to persuading donors to part with their money.

“Individuals with high levels of wealth or who tend to support political candidates — people who may have greater incentive to seek occasions for social networking — place a much higher value on the private benefits associated with their giving levels,” says Holger Sieg a professor of economics at the Tepper School of Business at Carnegie Mellon University, who co-authored the research with Jipeng Zhang at the University of Pittsburg.

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