Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Private Sector Diplomacy

I came across an interesting article about “private sector diplomacy” (Survey: Trust in Business Wavers) that talked about how trust in business in the Asia-Pacific region has gone down in the past year.  This is not surprising because of the economic crisis happening right now. The article noted:

“…That business must partner with governments and NGOs to solve the region's most pressing problems, not merely the ones that impact their bottom line, gives rise to the need for ‘private sector diplomacy.’ That means there is now an opportunity for companies to work with governments and third-party organizations to address economic, environmental, public health, education and other issues across borders. If they fail to take the initiative to do so, they run the risk of having policies (many likely protectionist and/or unworkable) thrust upon them (and their customers, partners and employees).”

This reminds me of our discussion in class on Tuesday regarding “Neopolitik” of how everyone is willing to cooperate and work in harmony due to their similar interests. I guess along with NGOs, nation-states and civil society, businesses’ roles are evolving in public diplomacy.

The article ends with:

“Business must stop talking and start engaging its key publics, beginning with its employees and customers. Business must also stop reacting and begin partnering with government, NGOs and others to address the serious issues that confront civil society. By doing so, business will begin to rebuild the trust that it has lost, and renew its social license to operate.”

My thoughts are  that if  businesses do manage to work together with governments and NGOs- Will the business’ reputation/image be seen as solely a company or part of the country’s image?  The best example would be China’s troubles with its tainted goods of toys, children milk and pet food- which in turn created a negative image of the country.   

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