Claims About How Business Creates Peace

7 01 2017

AS: I’m very interested in capitalist peace theory, the idea that trade between nations makes the world more peaceful, and believe that business historians are well positioned to test, refine, and modify the theory. (I’ve published a co-authored paper in this area).  For that reason, I make a point of following the literature on Business and Peace, a newly fashionable area of research in both management schools and peace studies (see here, here, here, and here). At the very end of last year, Jason Miklian  of International Peace Research Institute, Oslo (PRIO) published a thought-provoking paper on the various ways in which business is said to promote peace. It is worth reading by everybody as we prepare to enter the Age of Trump.

Mapping Business-Peace Interactions: Five Assertions for How Businesss Create Peace
Jason Miklian
International Peace Research Institute, Oslo (PRIO)

December 29, 2016
The conjunction of business and peace is a growing global phenomenon, but conducted and researched over a vast array of fields and contextual settings. This article provides theoretical order for this disparate material, illustrating cutting-edge research and highlighting the most urgent knowledge gaps to fill. Extracting findings from the business community, international organizations, and the academic community, this article maps these findings into five assertions about how businesses impact upon peace: economic engagement facilitates a peace dividend; encouraging local development facilitates local capacities for peace; importing international norms improves democratic accountability; firms can constrain the drivers or root causes of conflict; and undertaking direct diplomatic efforts with conflict actors builds and/or makes peace. These assertions provide a framework for categorizing and testing prominent business-peace arguments. They also support preliminary arguments that businesses cannot expect to be rewarded as peacebuilders just because they undertake peacebuilding activities, that economic opening only brings as much peace as a local regime will allow, and that truly courageous business-peace choices are rarely made in fragile contexts. This framework can encourage more coherent scholarly findings and more effective business engagements within the complex and challenging realm of peacebuilding.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 36

JEL Classification: F2, F23, M14, Q13, Q34, D74, F5, F50, F51, F54


Miklian has written a good paper, although I’m a bit surprised he did not refer to Saumitra Jha‘s excellent paper ‘Unfinished Business’: Historic Complementarities, Political Competition and Ethnic Violence in GujaratJournal of Economic Behavior and Organization. August 2014, Vol. 104, Pages 18-36 He certainly refers to the research other other top scholars in this field, such as John Katsos, Timothy Fort,  Joylon FordErik Gartzke,  etc so I don’t know why Jha was left out.


P.S. The 2016 paper on Business and Peace with the best title is clearly Mark van Dorp, “Should companies be involved in peacemaking, or mind their own business?.” Global Change, Peace & Security (2016): 1-8.