Angelika Rettberg: Need, creed, and greed: Understanding why business leaders focus on issues of peace

By Angelika Rettberg, Director - Graduate Program in Peacebuilding, Universidad de los Andes, Bogotá

While we know that business is key for stable peacebuilding, less is known about why business actually becomes involved in peace processes and peacebuilding.


Based on a review of the academic literature and of case studies at the global level, in this article I address this question from three perspectives:


First, business needs peace to solve specific problems related to their operations in unstable contexts.


Second, some business leaders believe that social change is positive and in their self-interest and are willing to promote transformations (creed).


Finally, business participation in peace- building may be motivated by the anticipation of renewed investment, profit, and growth (greed).


The article argues that none of these perspectives alone can explain the bulk of business participation in peacebuilding efforts. Rather, depending on actor and context, each business strategy can be traced to multiple combinations of these motivations.


The article suggests that simplistic generalizations hurt the development of desperately needed partnerships in mutual learning processes between business and other social actors.


We need improved knowledge and understanding of the mechanisms of private sector decision making in transitional processes in order to stem unrealistic expectations or frustrations as to the capability and willingness of the private sector in supporting peace-related activity.


This interdisciplinary approach should draw from management sciences, political science, and economics.


This article is free for the duration of this Challenge (end Nov 2016)


Editor's Note:

This article is published as part of the Business and Peace Challenge, led by Indiana University and Business Fights Poverty. To find out more about the Business and Peace Challenge, and to join, click here.

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