The messy business of peace amid the tyranny of the profit motive: Complexity and culture in post-conflict contexts

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


The activities of multi-national corporations and private business are today promoted by international institutions, policy actors, and many academics who believe they can be central to post-conflict peacebuilding. Such market driven interventions are theorized to provide a variety of peace-promoting benefits considered necessary to support fragile post-conflict states. These include employment opportunities, infrastructure development, and tax receipts. However, critics argue that they may also have negative consequences, such as labor abuse, environmental degradation, resource depletion, inflationary pressures, increased inequality, and minority marginalization; all potentially conflict-promoting dynamics. While such problems are often framed as the results of malicious intentions and predatory business practices, this chapter highlights more subtle reasons for such dynamics. It argues that the complexity of local sociocultural settings can derail even business ventures with the best of intentions. It exhibits how subtle and often unrecognized frictions between international and local actors lead to unexpected effects that can have impacts that are as much conflict promoting as they are peace promoting. What is necessary from businesses seeking to promote peace, therefore, is a commitment to understanding local sociocultural dynamics and the implications of intervention, which, in turn, requires very different skill sets and very different timelines for operations.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationBusiness, Peacebuilding and Sustainable Development
EditorsJason Miklian, Rina M. Alluri, John Elias Katsos
Number of pages17
ISBN (Electronic)9780429057229
ISBN (Print)9780367175030, 9780367175061
Publication statusPublished - 11 Jun 2019


  • Business for Peace
  • Peacebuilding
  • Complexity
  • Culture
  • Liberal Peace


Dive into the research topics of 'The messy business of peace amid the tyranny of the profit motive: Complexity and culture in post-conflict contexts'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this