How might one empirically assess the contribution of business actions to peace?

This written discussion is part a new month-long Challenge with Indiana University around the question: “What role can business play in pursuit of peace?”  The Challenge consists an online programme of written articles and online discussions, available on the Challenge homepage.


Despite the fact that broad macroeconomic connections between business and peace have long been acknowledged more needs to be done.  This Challenge aims to deepen understanding around the role that business can play in peacekeeping, peace making, and peace building.

This discussion focuses on how one might empirically assess business actions and how such quantification might be valuable for businesses and society alike.  A one-hour live panel will take place on Wednesday 26 October from 10am ET / 3pm UK.

The discussion will focus on three questions:


  1. What are some of the options for empirically measuring the contribution of companies to peace?
  2. What are some of the issues involved in measuring the contribution of businesses to peace?
  3. Some argue that we should rank companies on their contribution to peace, or alternatively certify them against some standard.  Which might be better and should they be made public or used to inform internal management decisions?  What role should business play in developing these approaches?


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I think your statement is one of the more difficult aspects of this issue. It is an incredibly gray area and you cant measure every company with the same, or even a similar yard stick. In some countries different actions need to be taken to bring about peace and help a situation. Some need direct aid, some need economic stimulation. If we defined it there may be negative consequences. This would become another race to the top where people are more worried about rankings then doing good. Regardless of the measurement we apply to "peace", it would too narrowly define it and create a glut of that definition being pumped into the system. I believe because of this the information should be private and related to management decisions. One option around this is that governments could ramp up partnerships with corporations with positive marketing and other incentives. 

Jack Ashby said:

Looking at the different questions posed, number two stood out to me the most by far.  Also it could seem black and white on whether a company is affecting positive or negative change, it may not always be that simple.  I believe that there is a grey area on how much a company should be involved in the peace process in general.  Some issues with measuring contribution of businesses to peace could be that in many cases the peace in an area can be beyond the companies control.  How do we measure a companies impact on peace and compare it to performance in another area that is already safer?  With each country having its own unique problems it could be difficult to have a measurement that applies to each situation.

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