Boardrooms and Bombs

By Berman, Jonathan | Harvard International Review, Fall 2000 | Go to article overview

Boardrooms and Bombs


Berman, Jonathan, Harvard International Review


Strategies of Multinational Corporations in Conflict Areas

War is "in" these days. In the last decade, the dampening blanket of the Cold Warbas has been pulled away, bringing oxygen to hotbeds of conflict around the globe. Multilateral organizations such as the World Bank, often criticized for excluding political issues from their mandates, have established departments to promote effective prevention, management, and resolution of armed conflict. Development-assistance organizations like the US Agency for International Development (USAID) are focusing policy reform on the particular challenges of war-torn societies. International non-governmental organizations (NGOs), which previously focused on environmental or labor issues, have discovered peace-building as a new arena for advocacy and assistance.

Multinational corporations (MNCs) are "in" too. MNCs also loom large in the consciousness of opinion-makers around the globe; critics and supporters alike ascribe a great deal of power to MNCs to transform society, particularly in developing economies.

Policymakers and advocates in the United States and Europe have begun to conflate questions about MNCs and about the increase in armed conflict worldwide. MNCs are at once being called to task for exacerbating armed conflicts and being called upon to participate in their prevention and resolution. Yet policymakers and advocates generally understand little about the way corporate managers approach the issue of armed conflict in their operational decisions.

Between October and December 1999, Political & Economic Link Consulting (PELC) conducted an analysis of armed conflict and the decision-making processes of multinational corporations. As part of the analysis, the firm interviewed 25 managers overseeing MNC operations in regions of armed conflict around the globe, including Algeria, Angola, Azerbaijan, Colombia, Congo, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Indonesia, Northern Ireland, and Sri Lanka. The surveyed firms operate in a wide range of industries, including natural resources (oil, gas, minerals), infrastructure (water, power, telecommunications), manufacturing (garments, flour, information technology, fluid controls, medical devices), services (banking, insurance, financial services), and retailing (consumer foods). The results of the interviews were enhanced by the views of a dozen experts in related topics such as political-risk insurance, sovereign-debt rating, and international investment promotion.

What determines whether a MNC will operate in a country affected by conflict? Though generalizing about the corporate sector as an undifferentiated whole is perilous, certain variables in armed conflict are routinely viewed by corporate mangers in the manner described below.

Geographic Impact of Conflict

The perceived geographic reach of a conflict is by far the most important factor in determining whether a MNC will operate in a conflict-affected country. In Algeria, armed conflict has mostly been limited to the coastal area north of the Atlas mountains. The majority of MNC operations are in the southern and southwestern parts of the country, separated from the area of conflict by a large and sparsely inhabited area. As one executive put it, "our confidence comes from the desert."

In other countries, executives say they are willing to maintain operations in urban centers when armed conflict is limited to the countryside. At the height of conflict in Colombia, a US investment firm purchased controlling interest in a Colombian supermarket chain whose outlets are primarily within the capital, Bogota. Similarly, MNCs operating in Colombo, Sri Lanka indicate that their urban location affords them a sense of security they would not feel in the more war-ridden rural areas. Moreover, MNCs may do business in counties where the geographic impact of fighting is large (nearly 40 percent of Colombia is in rebel hands) so long as conflict is contained and relatively stable. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Boardrooms and Bombs
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Author Advanced search

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.