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School of Business | Department of Management Studies | MSc program in Management and International Business | 2015
Thesis number: 14325
Business - a force for peace: why and what? A theoretical study
Author: Bauer, Tilman
Title: Business - a force for peace: why and what? A theoretical study
Year: 2015  Language: eng
Department: Department of Management Studies
Academic subject: MSc program in Management and International Business
Index terms: johtaminen; management; liike-elämä; business life; hyvinvointi; well-being; rauha; peace; mikrotalous; microeconomics; yritykset; companies
Pages: 116
Full text:
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Key terms: business; peace; new paradigm
This research is a theoretical and conceptual study of business being a force for peace. As the business world finds itself in a crisis of values, peace is one of five areas Forbes has identified as the future of corporate social responsibility. Moreover, there is a growing literature on "Peace Through Commerce" - an idea that ethical business fosters peace also through core business activities.

In my thesis, I approach the relationship of business and peace on the micro-level, i.e. from the perspective of individual companies and their multidimensional potential to contribute to peace. By analyzing the nexus of business and peace, this study outlines a conceptual framework or a "mental map" of the intricate connections. The research questions start with the question what peace is. What do we mean when we speak of peace, and how is the concept defined? Next, the intersections of business and peace are discussed. On that basis, I ask why business should be concerned with peace. Moreover, what kinds of actions does fostering peace entail and what can business do in practice to contribute to peace? Finally, I will ask what the main implications are for the business paradigm, if we entertain the idea that business can and should foster peace in society.

The basis of the study is the philosophical and theoretical foundation of the meaning of peace. Peace entails three stages: Weak peace (the absence of war or systematic violence), strong peace (the presence of positive ideals such as justice, health, happiness, education, prosperity, sustainability, and wellbeing), and holistic peace (the transrational vision for humanity, the ultimate higher purpose of human endeavor).

The business-peace connection historically originates in the 17th-century idea that trade fosters peace through international cooperation. This traction has been lost with the emergence of an ethically questionable business culture in the 20th century, but it should be regained because peace is in the interest of both business and society. This entails recognizing that creating positive impact, i.e. fostering peace, is at the crux of the purpose of the corporation, as it refers to creating value for society. Business can contribute to weak peace, for example, through impact assessments, self-regulation and certification, diversified hiring, clear standards and policies, stakeholder dialog, and other ethical core business practices. Strong peace efforts include, for example, supporting human rights, promoting gender equality, and respecting the environment. Finally, activities that foster holistic peace entail, for example, nurturing a higher purpose, transcending self-interest, and embodying moral excellence.

Essentially, corporate leadership for peace is a new, emerging mindset that enables business to climb up on the ladder of morality by assuming a responsible role in society. Such a new paradigm takes the holistic wellbeing of all stakeholders, including nature, to the center of attention.
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