Business Actors in Peace Mediation Processes

AuthorRina M. Alluri,Andrea Iff
Published date01 June 2016
Date01 June 2016
Business Actors in Peace
Mediation Processes
Even though the relevance of business actors in peace
processes is increasingly acknowledged, analysis of their
particular roles and contributions remain sparse in peace
mediation literature. This is despite the fact that such
knowledge would be highly relevant for supporting media-
tion processes such as those ongoing in Colombia or the
Philippines. This article looks at the involvement of busi-
ness actors in mediation processes by tracing analysis
along the entry points for involvement, the different roles
that business actors can play and the limitations they face.
The empirical data shows that business actors mainly play
a role during the pre- and mediation phase and therein
often as a support-giver to the mediation process. Further-
more, most of the involvement does not take place at track-
1 level but rather at track-2 mediation processes, where
mainly local business play an important role. In contrary to
what is postulated by some of the literature, the relevance
of utilitaristic motives is not problematic; rather a mone-
tary motivation can also foster the credibility in a political
process where a lot is at stake.
Andrea Iff is Head of the Statehood, Business and Peace program at swisspeace in Bern,
Switzerland and a Lecturer at the University of Basel. E-mail:
Rina M. Alluri is an independent Peacebuilding Consultant and an Associate Expert with
swisspeace in Bern, Switzerland. E-mail:
C2016 Center for Business Ethics at Bentley University. Published by Wiley Periodicals, Inc.,
350 Main Street, Malden, MA 02148, USA, and 9600 Garsington Road, Oxford OX4 2DQ, UK.
Business and Society Review 121:2 187–215
Just as mediation efforts are not only limited to securing peace
between conflict parties (Hellm
uller and Ahere 2014), busi-
ness efforts are not only limited to making profits (Scherer
and Palazzo 2011). Businesses can play an important role in peace
processes (Fort and Schipani 2002; Oetzel et al. 2010), however
their particular contributions to mediation negotiations remain lim-
ited to a few studies (Gutierrez 2004; Iff et al. 2010; Banfield et al.
2006; Rettberg 2013; Tripathi and G
uz 2008). Further, despite
the acknowledgement that internationally supported mediation
processes need to be better coordinated yet more inclusive to other
actors [such as regional organizations, nongovernmental organiza-
tions NGOs (see in this journal, Paffenholz 2014), religious organiza-
tions or academic institutions], there is no mention of business
actors (Moon 2009; Unit ed Nations General Assem bly 2012).
While it can be argued that businesses are negatively affected by
conflict and thus have self-interest in a peaceful society (Joras
2009), empirical data on businesses active in peacebuilding yields
mixed results. The overarching question of this “in theory” article is
how are business actors involved in mediation processes? This
question is further split into three subquestions that deal with the
main issues a mediator is confronted with: First, regarding so
called entry points, how do mediators and business actors start
engaging with one another? Second, which roles and activities are
business actors particularly useful for and at which stage of the
mediation? Third, regarding limitations of business actors’ involve-
ment, which are the characteristics of business actors that hinder
their involvement in mediation processes?
The term “business actor” is used as a collective term, capturing
different types of corporate institutions and individuals, namely
companies, business associations and interest groups as well as
individual entrepreneurs and business executives. It captures
domestic as well as international business actors, the latter being
more thoroughly investigated by current research. All sectors and
branches are included. A company is understood as an entity
formed with the purpose of doing business.
The mediation process is understood as a part of the broader
peace process or conflict transformation efforts that comprises addi-
tional activities, for example, with a more long-term developmental

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