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 why business might contribute to peace.  A one-hour live panel will take place Wednesday 12 October from 10am ET / 3pm UK.

The discussion will focus on three questions:

  1. What motivates business to contribute to peace?  Of these motivations, which one(s) might be the most important in the future?
  2. If businesses aim to contribute to peace, what can they learn from best practice, including from other businesses and from the political and diplomatic worlds?
  3. As businesses move from a pure focus on shareholder value to “shared” value for all stakeholders, what implications does this have for why and how they can contribute to peace?

Editor's Note:

Welcome to this online written discussion. To post comments you will need to sign in / sign up to Business Fights Poverty. A list of recent comments is shown in the right-hand side bar and will refresh every 5 minutes. To refresh more often, please click on the refresh icon in your browser or on the link below.


Views: 2207

Reply to This

Replies to This Discussion

Ok - let's start with our first question:

Q1: What motivates business to contribute to peace?  Of these motivations, which one(s) might be the most important in the future?

Hello everyone, I am Jimena leiva Roesch- I work for the International Peace Institute in New York. I  am currently working on the links between the SDGs, peace and business. 

Just to follow up on my last comment.  Peace entrepreneurs, like other social entrepreneurs, might contribute to peace as part of the company's mission.  A multinational might be more instrumental: businesses might fare better if bombs aren't dropping on their offices.  State-owned enterprises might be carrying out the objectives of their nation.  Still others might not even know they are contributing to peace, but do so because their actions are respectful, just fair while also obeying laws and creating jobs and economic development.  

I see this as a two sided story: one side creates the demand for proactive businesses (the nature of the working environment, for example), the other created the supply of engagement (such as the culture and size of the business). We can best encourage involvement by showing how these factors combine to make engaging in peacemaking in businesses interests.

True, but on a very basic level surely they all share a defensive interest in stability. Uncertainty and instability are an anathema to most businesses (some will of course thrive in this environment). However, at the extreme, violent conflict is harmful to just about every aspect of business practice. The starting point is that most businesses would not want to contribute to undermining peace, it might be different to what extent they have the vision, the interest or the capacity to be more proactive. 



Timothy L. Fort said:

I think one thing that is important to bear in mind is that "business" is complex and varied.  There are all kinds of different businesses from multinational corporations to state owned enterprises to entrepreneurs.  The reasons for contributing to peace can vary just as businesses themselves vary

I agree with Tim, SME's and large multinationals have very different mindsets and missions, but safe and resilient institutions linked to a business environment are still vital for most who decide to invest in a region.  Likely further motivation is linked to the fact companies care about the places they live, work and do business.  

Yep, fully agree Paul Andre.  I think there is a shared rational for peace among all human beings (though the levels of that may vary) and the same holds true with businesses.  They just might have more specific tactical ways of getting there.  

Paul-Andre Wilton said:

True, but on a very basic level surely they all share a defensive interest in stability. Uncertainty and instability are an anathema to most businesses (some will of course thrive in this environment). However, at the extreme, violent conflict is harmful to just about every aspect of business practice. The starting point is that most businesses would not want to contribute to undermining peace, it might be different to what extent they have the vision, the interest or the capacity to be more proactive. 



Timothy L. Fort said:

I think one thing that is important to bear in mind is that "business" is complex and varied.  There are all kinds of different businesses from multinational corporations to state owned enterprises to entrepreneurs.  The reasons for contributing to peace can vary just as businesses themselves vary

I like this structure. On the demand side there could be significant reputational risks for not being proactive in social movements that align with the values of consumers or in-fact staff. I’m told by our Women’s Economic Empowerment team that there is significant evidence to show that ‘millennials’ are clear that their preference is to work for organisations with a positive social purpose as part of its business model. To recruit the best, businesses may need to be more overt about the positions they take and support in society. Peace writ large might not be the thing the organisation works in, but support for particular norms through inclusive work policies could be examples of how the culture of an organisation has to change to reflect broader movements in society. 



Molly M. Melin said:

I see this as a two sided story: one side creates the demand for proactive businesses (the nature of the working environment, for example), the other created the supply of engagement (such as the culture and size of the business). We can best encourage involvement by showing how these factors combine to make engaging in peacemaking in businesses interests.

I agree with this and think the key is understanding variation in contributions across businesses. If this were content, we would see all businesses facing the challenges of instability in the same way (as in, all Colombian companies reacting to FARC similarly). We need to understand more clearly why some companies facing instability engage communities and others do not. I think it's also interesting to think about how this might change over time- can we help create a culture of engagement in a business where there hasn't been one historically? Or is corporate culture too hard to change?


Paul-Andre Wilton said:

True, but on a very basic level surely they all share a defensive interest in stability. Uncertainty and instability are an anathema to most businesses (some will of course thrive in this environment). However, at the extreme, violent conflict is harmful to just about every aspect of business practice. The starting point is that most businesses would not want to contribute to undermining peace, it might be different to what extent they have the vision, the interest or the capacity to be more proactive. 



Timothy L. Fort said:

I think one thing that is important to bear in mind is that "business" is complex and varied.  There are all kinds of different businesses from multinational corporations to state owned enterprises to entrepreneurs.  The reasons for contributing to peace can vary just as businesses themselves vary

The future question builds on what Tim and Karen, you are saying about size and capacity. The world is arguably becoming more risky: the growing threat of climate change; the changing balance of power across the world between nation states undermining old certainties; the impact of conflicts in terms of economic and social shocks; the greatest number of refugees the world has ever seen... It will be harder and harder for large private sector organisations to ignore the market effects of this instability. Against this backdrop the argument for the prevention of conflict and investing in peace because more powerful, even if it is framed as a instrumentalist concern rather than being driven by values. 

I agree with Timothy that "business" is not a monolith- what is important is to encourage a new business model that creates incentives for businesses around the world to get involved and support them in aligning their current work with bigger visions such as the Sustainable Development Goals.

In other words, we want business to be involved in "fighting poverty" not for philanthropic purposes but because in the long-term it makes them more competitive.

Thanks for all the great comments so far.  Let's move on to our second question:

Q2: If businesses aim to contribute to peace, what can they learn from best practice, including from other businesses and from the political and diplomatic worlds?

Reply to Discussion

RSS

Latest Activity

Profile IconKate Sutton, Charles Patrick Cox, The Noble Ark Foundation and 1 more joined Business Fights Poverty
yesterday
Profile IconMohammad Afzal Hossain, Kelsey Weber, Gulfam Tasnim and 1 more joined Business Fights Poverty
Tuesday
Fundación Capital is now a member of Business Fights Poverty
Mar 17

Challenger
KREUTZER commented on member's blog post Pedro Moura Costa: Big Data, Bold Moves: Combatting Illegal Logging with a Responsible Timber Exchange
Mar 17

© 2017   Inspiris. Business Fights Poverty was created and is managed by Inspiris, a Certified B Corp.   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service

Google+