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


(Sam Parker) #101

I agree fully with what Victor wrote. I think that businesses should push peace by moving to developing countries and employing their citizens. It is well known that unemployment leads to an increase in crime and vice. When multinational companies invest in developing nations, they allow for an increase in income to the citizens and a reduction in violence. I also strongly agree that more direct attempts at solving internal conflicts should be left to governments rather than multinational companies.

I think that businesses should play a fairly large role in developing approaches to empirically assess the contribution of business actions to peace. If businesses were able to develop a way to concretely say that multinational business investment leads to more peace, it is basically a guarantee that countries struggling to foster peace will be more open to foreign investment. Although the future empirical study may show business doesn't foster peace, it is more than likely to show that it does. If future studies show that it does not, then multinational businesses will realize that in order to be successful internationally, they will need to change their strategy in order to foster peace.


Victor Lu said:

Regarding the third discussion question - specifically "What role should business play in developing these approaches?" – I can’t help but think about potential perverse incentives that could be introduced. As an example, the documentary Poverty Inc. illustrates how many of the most well-intentioned charitable efforts to eradicate poverty actually reinforced many of the underlying causes of poverty. This is because charitable handouts to poor countries in the form of free or subsidized resources can disrupt local entrepreneurial efforts that have greater potential to introduce sustainable prosperity.

I am of the opinion that businesses operating in poor countries will inherently support conditions for greater peace (provided that they operate ethically) through the creation of employment opportunities and economic growth – two powerful drivers of societal stability. Thus, the best role businesses could play in the contributing to peace is to pursue the profit motive. More direct attempts at developing peace – perhaps in the form of conflict intervention – should be left to state authorities.


(Jingcheng Wu) #102

I agree that we need to measure the companies' contributions to peace under different scenarios. However, I think we do not identify reasons why the companies are doing ethical things as long as its actions contribute to the peace objectively. In the Nike case, if Nike pay the local employees outside the United State enough salary for them to make a living, then Nike contributes to the peace. Although Nike pay the workers enough salary in order to motivate them to make more profits for the company, the action itself contributes to the peace.
Mingyu Ye said:

For the first question: By definition, "Empirically" means relying on or derived from observation or experiment, verifiable or provable by means of observation or experiment. I believe that one method of measuring contributions of companies to peace is to compare their actions among different scenarios. For example, different countries are a good measurement to tell what a company is doing the right thing for. Nike has been paying a premium wage to its labors in Unite States, not to mention other benefits. Its working conditions in other countries, especially those developing countries, are hard to be considered beneficial to peace. The rationale behind this is that the purpose of actions. Is a company doing something good because it is right thing to do, or just because it gains more profit? It needs more discussion.


(Jiahui Wang) #103

I agree with you, Reiner. Many companies make donations to charities or other not-for-profit organizations every year, but it is hard to tell whether they do it in order to enhance profit and reputation or not. It could be a great example of real trust. Companies have the incentive to contribute to world peace, but they may not really want to do those moral things.

Therefore, companies should first start introduce peace from inside of the company. If the company respects all its employees and all stakeholders that related to the company, peace will become an essential part of their corporate culture. In this way, companies will contribute to peace from the heart, but not for the benefit they can gain. In addition, I agree with you that set the tone at the top will be one of the most effective approaches to promote peace within the company.


Reiner Bennardo Riantan said:

I agree that one way for businesses to contribute to peace is through advertising. However, I think companies should start introduce peace from inside the company; make peace as a part of their corporate culture. Companies can do this by making sure each employee is treated equally in every aspect. Moreover, companies should also make sure that all employees' voices or opinions are heard and responded. Management of the company should start the culture of respecting all employees and all stakeholders related to the company. By doing this, the management has set the tone at the top. When employees see their management respect them and other stakeholders, employees are prone to do the same. Through this, companies will have peace internally. And when companies have peace internally, I believe they will start doing everything to promote peace, including to the society the businesses are in.


(Jiahui Wang) #104

Donations may be one of the most effective options to measure companies’ contributions. However, there is no appropriate benchmark that works for every business. Company size, industry, location and other important features should also be taken into consideration. For example, it is impossible for some small businesses to make the same amount of donation as large multinational companies do. Therefore, it is unfair to rank companies only based on their financial contributions.

From my point of view, ranking might be a better approach, since we could not set some standards and force companies to make their own contributions to peace. It could be made public in order to let companies have more incentive to give back to society.


(Sudheer Vundru) #105

I agree with yungian that marketing can be a great tool for business to use to promote peace. To add on to that point, I believe that if a company establishes a connection between the actual product and its sale in addition to programs like BMW does, it can help make clear the connection between the business and its contribution to peace. For example, TOM's shoes clearly explains and advertises how the sale of one pair of shoes has a positive impact on the life on another in need.

yunqian gong said:

Thinking of the first question, I would say there are many different ways for companies to contribute to peace. For example, Marketing is a very good way to promote peace to people. Businesses can use social media to share peaceful advertising campaigns. For example, BMW has a Blessing Basket Project, which helps people live in Africa to sell their handmade baskets. BMW makes a lot of advertisements not only on their website but also on TV. Moreover, it is also a good way for companies to contribute to peace by increasing the diversity.


(Andrew Coen) #106

I think you bring up a good point. It is usually not very newsworthy to hear that a company had been performing ethically on a daily basis. Unless a company truly goes above and beyond to do something great, it rarely makes the news. I think instead of ranking the most ethical companies, it may be more newsworthy to rank the least ethical companies. Members at the bottom of the list would be much more likely to become more ethical instead of receiving the bad publicity. And people might be more inclined to read about it since it has the sense of scandal that you brought up.


Mingyu Ye said:

Regard the second/third question, I am afraid that good actions are much less attractive than scandals. How many people are willing to keep following a good action and to see how it ends up with? Scandals like Enron has been mentioned over and over. Leakage of BP, emission scandal of VW, accounts scandal of Wells fargo have proving the passion of people toward scandals as well as the conspiracy behind these. With that being said, the issue of getting constant public attention needs to be addressed.

To build a ranking system, it is necessary to motivate corporations to public their actions and to accept a external review. Just like the process of IPO. Perhaps an investment system can also be duplicated from stock market. Based on contributions to peace, corporations gain virtual assets in the market which can be translated to forecasted growth.


(Yinan Wu) #107

For the first question, I think that empirical measurement is significant for a company to contribute to create peacemaking, peace building and peace keeping. The physical contribution to poverty, like food and money, is absolutely one form. The invisible form, like the positive influence from a model company is also meaningful. A good empirical measurement could be the reflected by the company’s social effect.

For the second question, the issues could be that contribution is intangible sometimes. No formula and specific standard can be analyzed. If everyone effort is measured, it looks like kind of utilitarian. The feedback is not timely and subjective. For the third question, it is meaningless to rank the contribution cross companies. A common standard may be helpful. I think it is better that is used to internal management decision. Once it goes public, it will easily connect to financial purpose, which is against ethics.


(Brian Suhre) #108

Lauren, you bring up a good shortcoming in my metrics. Perhaps number of employees should also be included, in addition to wages and benefits. No measurement system is going to be perfect; there will always be some corporation that tries to exploit local conditions of inequality or circumvent a rankings system. However, the measurement should be dynamic enough to incorporate new factors that attempt to close loopholes like the one you mentioned in Niger.

Lauren Dekker said:

I think Brian brings up some very good points. It will be difficult to measure a company's contributions to peace. Thus, there would need to be a set of standards and evaluation points for companies to be analyzed against. I agree with Brian's other points, but the last one on how businesses that operate in impoverished areas inherently contribute to peace by providing employment is not always true. Sometimes a company enters an impoverished area and needs only a few employees to keep the operation running. In this case, they provide few jobs and reap all the benefits. In the case of oil companies in the Niger Delta, they provided few jobs, polluted the environment and harmed a lot of the population thus leading to the state they are at now--rebels are sabotaging their oil pipes and nothing peaceful is happening there.

Brian Suhre said:

Measuring the contributions of companies to peace is a challenging proposition, mainly because "contributions to peace" can be hard to define. However, there are some metrics that might help. First, charitable donations by companies is perhaps the most obvious metric. This can be further refined by focusing on charities that relate to poverty or operate in war torn countries, like the Red Cross/Crescent. Secondly, companies can be measured based on the number of war-torn or impoverished countries they operate in. This measurement should be augmented by metrics that account for wages, contributions to local charitable organizations, and employee benefits/education efforts. As Victor said, businesses that operate in impoverished areas inherently contribute to peace by providing employment.


(Alec Engblom) #109

You bring up a very valuable point here about the ineffectiveness of measuring companies contributions to peace. Like a multiples valuation for valuing companies, firms with similar sizes, employees, location and other factors play a large part in their ability to contribute to peace. A firm that is located in Mexico vs a firm that is located in rural Alaska have very different opportunities to contribute peace to their local communities. Likewise, a company that has $20 billion in revenue can not be measured on the same scale as a smaller corporation with only 50 employees. For this reason only companies that are very similar in similar industries can be measured against each other.

Jiahui Wang said:

Donations may be one of the most effective options to measure companies’ contributions. However, there is no appropriate benchmark that works for every business. Company size, industry, location and other important features should also be taken into consideration. For example, it is impossible for some small businesses to make the same amount of donation as large multinational companies do. Therefore, it is unfair to rank companies only based on their financial contributions.

From my point of view, ranking might be a better approach, since we could not set some standards and force companies to make their own contributions to peace. It could be made public in order to let companies have more incentive to give back to society.


(Da Tong) #110

Regarding the third question, I think that ranking companies on their contribution to peace is very difficult becuase it is hard to quantify the contribution to peace without a good system. So I agree that we should certify them against some standards just like environmental certificate. With these standards, management in companies will consider contribution to peace when making internal management decisions. Business should play the role of vangurad in developing these approaches. Companies are the first to comply with approaches and their feedback will be very crucial to develop these approaches.


(Jiahui Wang) #111

I agree with you, Brian. Besides charitable donations, wages and employee benefits/education efforts are important benchmarks, especially for companies that operate in war-torn and impoverish countries. Victor also makes a great point that two powerful drivers of societal stability are the creation of employment opportunities and economic growth. One important approach is to provide the incentive for companies to contribute to peace. Ranking could also be an indirect incentive for companies to contribute more.

Brian Suhre said:

Measuring the contributions of companies to peace is a challenging proposition, mainly because "contributions to peace" can be hard to define. However, there are some metrics that might help. First, charitable donations by companies is perhaps the most obvious metric. This can be further refined by focusing on charities that relate to poverty or operate in war torn countries, like the Red Cross/Crescent. Secondly, companies can be measured based on the number of war-torn or impoverished countries they operate in. This measurement should be augmented by metrics that account for wages, contributions to local charitable organizations, and employee benefits/education efforts. As Victor said, businesses that operate in impoverished areas inherently contribute to peace by providing employment.


(Charlie Dickman) #112

Thinking of the third question, I think there should be some way to rank companies on how they contribute to peace or the overall wellbeing of society. It has been pretty clear that there macroeconomic effects to a society when a company contributes or harms overall wellbeing, and a company should be rewarded or punished for these actions. I think a ranking would be effective than some sort of certification. A company would aspire to have high rankings because in today's world people care about being in a culture that promotes things like peace and sustainability and a high record would attract the best talent, meaning a company would be more willing to invest in this rather than a certification.


(Alec Engblom) #113

A ranking system would be extremely helpful for potential investors to make smarter investment decisions. Some companies that have great bottom line numbers do so in an unethical way or at the expense of those less fortunate. This increases the risk of a potential litigation lawsuit and brand damage if a scandal arises that does not promote peace. The best example I can give is Nike and their sweatshops in the early 2000's. Nike and its investors were thrilled with returns but much of the public was unaware of the unethical acts Nike was acting out. When this information was made available their value took a dip and equity owners were left with the negative consequences. A ranking system would ensure Investors are investing an business that are ethical and dedicated to promoting peace.


Charlie Dickman said:

Thinking of the third question, I think there should be some way to rank companies on how they contribute to peace or the overall wellbeing of society. It has been pretty clear that there macroeconomic effects to a society when a company contributes or harms overall wellbeing, and a company should be rewarded or punished for these actions. I think a ranking would be effective than some sort of certification. A company would aspire to have high rankings because in today's world people care about being in a culture that promotes things like peace and sustainability and a high record would attract the best talent, meaning a company would be more willing to invest in this rather than a certification.


(Alec Engblom) #114


(Claire Schapker) #115

I agree with Jeanne when she discusses how marketing can be an effective way for businesses to promote peace to outside organizations. I have appreciated marketing efforts and business models like TOMS that promote humanity efforts and provide an interesting perspective for "peace" in the world. Simultaneously, I also believe that businesses have an obligation to promote internal peace within their organization by maintaining a standard for peaceful and ethical behavior at work.

Jeanne Susanto said:

For the first question, I also agree with Yunqian Gong that one of ways that a business can promote peace is through marketing. A business can sell its products/services by contributing to the world peace, like a business can give donation to the United Nations everytime a consumer purchase the products/services. An interesting example of it is how Coca Cola launched a campaign called Coke Small World campaign where they put videos of poor condition in Pakistan and India by putting live video feeds on the vending machine.

To answer the second and third question, we realize that sometimes we cannot really get the exact measurement on how a business supports peace and fight poverty. We might not know whether the business really send all of the help or not which is why I might say that it is important that a business proves it by making another commercial/announcement showing that the donation has been delivered to the right party. I am not sure that I am agree with how a business should reach a certain standard to get certified. I always believe that when one has the intention to do good deeds, we should not measure it while we should embrace it despite of how much or how big the effort is.


(Claire Schapker) #116

I like how Brian and Jiahui comment on the definition of "contributions to peace" because I also feel that this is extremely difficult to define for both the company and by individuals. I think that things like charitable donations are an obvious way for a company to make a contribution, however I do not think that is the only way to measure if a company is contributing to peace. I believe that businesses can be most effective when they simply make a statement or support a specific organization with a good cause. Regardless of the situation, a little bit can go a long way.

Jiahui Wang said:

I agree with you, Brian. Besides charitable donations, wages and employee benefits/education efforts are important benchmarks, especially for companies that operate in war-torn and impoverish countries. Victor also makes a great point that two powerful drivers of societal stability are the creation of employment opportunities and economic growth. One important approach is to provide the incentive for companies to contribute to peace. Ranking could also be an indirect incentive for companies to contribute more.

Brian Suhre said:

Measuring the contributions of companies to peace is a challenging proposition, mainly because "contributions to peace" can be hard to define. However, there are some metrics that might help. First, charitable donations by companies is perhaps the most obvious metric. This can be further refined by focusing on charities that relate to poverty or operate in war torn countries, like the Red Cross/Crescent. Secondly, companies can be measured based on the number of war-torn or impoverished countries they operate in. This measurement should be augmented by metrics that account for wages, contributions to local charitable organizations, and employee benefits/education efforts. As Victor said, businesses that operate in impoverished areas inherently contribute to peace by providing employment.


(Claire Schapker) #117

In regards to the third discussion question, I think that creating a system for measuring businesses contribution to peace is an interesting idea that could be extremely beneficial to the world if done correctly. It could also cause more harm than good if not set up accurately. I feel that ranking companies by the their ethical contribution to the world would be the most effective because it provides a level of competition that might inspire others to participate as well. It would be important to address what contributions they made in order to justify the rankings and why they are what they are. Businesses should address whatever attempts they are currently making and hope to make in the future in order to reward change in the business world.


(Xiangzhong Meng) #118

For the first question, I think companies would have great influences on peace. For example, a medical company might have the technology to develop certain drugs to cure lethal diseases around the world. In this situation, the company could leverage the opportunity to increase the price or make it reasonably cheap for the population around the world. Another example could be a media/news company. Media/News company has great influence on public impressions on basically everything. When World War II happened, the Japanese media made partial and twisted statements about the war to China and it made the whole country thought the war was for the right reasons.


(Xiangzhong Meng) #119

Regarding to the third question, I think creating a system to measure the contribution to peace for business would make it as a competition. In my opinion, this could create a unspoken force for business to at least contribute if they could. It is like creating company culture. Once people start to care, companies will make it as a part of the standards of how to be considered as a great company.


(Murtagh Thinnes) #120

Katie makes a strong point in that while a business' first responsibility is to its shareholders, companies with strong production and distribution networks have the ability to use their resources for the common good. While the primary goal of investors is to get a return on the investment they make in a company, many also want to see a strong sense of corporate social responsibility. Acts of good will, such as what Anheuser Busch did during the Flint water crisis, effectively help countries in need, while simultaneously bridging peaceful, yet powerful relationships which may in turn benefit the company financially in the long run.

I agree with a lot of people, when I say that business definitely has a role in peace. I think that what Anheuser Busch did during Flint water crisis is a great example. For one week, they took their production and canned clean drinking water instead of beer. This was something they were completely capable of doing, both production wise, and financially wise. There are so many other companies that are doing so well, and it would really put no financial strain on them to do something like what Anheuser Busch did, just to help someone. If more companies worked like this, there would be a lot more peace.