The Business of Cooperation
Sulzer, Alessandra, Harvard International Review
Peace and Profit through Joint Ventures
The idea of using trade to create political stability is not a new one. It took the form of imperialism into the late 19th century, when colonies helped the governments of industrializing countries handle social unrest at home. After centuries of change, the fundamental principle remains the same, though with a shift in focus. Now, private companies rather than mercantilist governments are attempting to foster peace between groups in conflict by involving them in cooperative business ventures. David Lubetsky, CEO of one such company, PeaceWorks, says, "The more companies operate and profit together, the more they will gain a vested interest in preserving and cementing those bonds...and hopefully someday, prosperity will make stability prevail." This movement takes the socially conscious business practices of the last quarter century one step further; rather than just promoting donations, this new theory gives businesses an incentive to become involved in creating peace by establishing commercial and personal links between groups in conflict.
The need for socially conscious enterprise was initially recognized in the 1980s, when organizations like the Social Venture Network sought to create a network of entrepreneurs who would design and implement innovative ways in which business could be used to benefit society. Until recently, this agenda meant that companies gave away a certain percentage of their pretax earnings to a worthy cause or organization and supported projects for social change, which benefited children, families, disadvantaged groups, and the environment. Since the 1990s, however, this original philosophy has evolved further.
Entrepreneurs for Peace …
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Publication information: Article title: The Business of Cooperation. Contributors: Sulzer, Alessandra - Author. Journal title: Harvard International Review. Volume: 23. Issue: 2 Publication date: Summer 2001. Page number: 34. © 1999 Harvard International Relations Council, Inc. COPYRIGHT 2001 Gale Group.
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