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Peace of the Action

In these days of Katrina and Iraq, what's the purpose of business? Several readers have expressed concern that their work matters less in the face of disaster — and it's challenging to remain focused on workaday business activities in recent weeks. In a new paper, Gretchen Spreitzer, a professor of management and organizations at the University of Michigan's Ross School of Business, suggests that work indeed matters — business leaders can contribute to sustainable peace.

In the study, entitled "Giving Peace a Chance: Organizational Leadership, Empowerment and Sustainable Peace," Spreitzer analyzes data from about 80 countries, finding less corruption and less unrest in countries where the leadership of business organizations is more participative.

It may be fashionable to snark about Halliburton's involvement in redevelopment efforts, but some organizations and business leaders are working hard to help rebuild and, yes, spread peace. How does the work you do increase peace?

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  • mahendrakumardash

    My view is purely based on business perspective.
    The Iraq war, if one finds reason to be oil and creation of a market of sophisticated weapons or the market for construction people, then I will not be surprised.We suppose give Aid for reconstruction,then main money goes to whom?It creates a vast market for the business people.And the needy remains needy.I hope atleast some people will agree on that.The gap between rich and poor widens in the name of development.We benefit out of it and still say we did good for them.The harsh reality is this.

  • Anne Vantine

    How to follow Mr. Fulton's optimistic, uplifting and peaceful post...

    I guess it would be impossible for someone to envision the possibility of fostering "sustainable peace" when the strategy for change is to "sit and watch" while feeling "emasculated" because he can't "sit in the right seat of a B 52 again". Apparently, according to this oxymoronic view, peace (while not possible) can only exist via the use of violence.

    While it might be naive, I'd prefer to believe in the potential for a utopian world. For me, that would mean living in a world of acceptance and tolerance of all people. A world where race, religion, sexual orientation, cultural differences, even differences in points of view (as I have with Mr. Fulton above) are celebrated, and are not reasons to murder or discriminate against; a world whose only intolerance is for violence, murder and discrimination, and those who advocate and participate in such acts.

    While it is hard to envision such a peaceful existence in my lifetime, I still think progress can happen in that direction with both big and small actions by individuals and businesses. Businesses that foster a corporate environment that promotes tolerance and acceptance can go a long way towards promoting sustainable peace. I believe that those businesses that adopt, and support a corporate culture that not only values cultural differences, but views tham as assets can set themselves apart from their competition when they are used creatively, effectively and with true conviction.

    I work in the performing arts--the Arts, by its nature, tends to promote peace, tolerance and acceptance through the art, but also in its "corporate" culture. You will rarely find a more varied "cast of characters" than you will in arts organizations and for that I am lucky. I get to work in an environment that encourages creativity, individualism, tolerance, and values the unique qualities that everyone brings to the table.

  • roger fulton

    Oh, c'mon, this sounds like a lecture from the Mathmatics Lab at U of Wisconsin during the anti-Viet Nam uprising days. What's with the "what do you do to promote "peace" rap?
    Ok, I build better bombs so I can wipe out the miserable back-stabbling insurgents who murder innocent civilians in Iraq - that's what I do to promote peace. How's that grab you?
    Look, psychologically, the Katrina thing and Iraq conflict has put us ALL in the back seat. It has personally frustrated the hell out of me. I would like to be back in the right seat of a B-52 again, but I can't, so I'll just sit and watch as my people take it on the chin in Iraw by this creepy little cowards who hide in the bushes and plant bombs, killing our guys, and their own innocent women and children.
    AND, as I watch the telly, just like you, I pull whatever hair I have left out, observing the Keystone Kops trying to do a job rescuing that beautiful city, and those poor sould (who don't want to be rescued) and the governments confound me by tossing hot potatoes back and forth to each other.
    Of course we are distracted, frustrated, and to some cases emasculated in our work. What we do is largely neutering compared to our inability to move anything really important as world events spin around us.
    This is the 21st century. Unless it goes off down the street, we can only sit and watch.