If you only read one thing this week…

Making Corporate Community Relations Work by ifyouonlyreadonethingthisweek
June 18, 2009, 3:11 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

In “Getting it Right: Making Corporate-Community Relations Work“, authors Luc Zandvliet and Mary B. Anderson analyze seven years of field research with over 60 international companies through the CDA Collaborative Learning Project’s Corporate Engagement Project (CEP).  The book builds on previous work by Anderson and CDA, including “Do No Harm – How Aid Can Support Peace – Or War” and “Confronting War: Critical Lessons for Peace Practitioners”.  Both of which are widely used by the development community.

“Getting it Right” is meant to offer practical experience to help corporate managers ‘get it right’ with respect to interactions with local communities, so that they can combine effective production goals with positive impacts within the local context.  Some of the patterns the authors identified tend to be reproduced in different settings which explain why, even when good intentions are present, companies may face dissatisfaction, opposition or even violence from community members. For example, while economic activities can be neutral, the impacts of a company on a community are, by definition, never neutral. In order to prevent and predict company-community conflict of any type from passive frustration to armed violence, companies need to not only put forth policies that acknowledge the community, but also be aware of how such practices are implemented. Companies also need to be aware that sometimes the tangible benefits are not as relevant to the community’s satisfaction as the basic feeling that the company cares about their opinion and is willing to hear it. Thus the how is equally, if not more, important than the what.

“Getting it Right” is apt to spark wider discussions on the role of the private sector working in conflict zones and other transitional environments, a topic regularly confronted by INGOs whether they are working directly with companies or not.  To aid these debates, the book examines how to make company-community relations a priority and why doing so would be beneficial both to the security and sustainability of the company and the livelihoods of the communities involved.

For more information about the Corporate Engagement Project and CDA Collaborative Learning Projects, visit www.cdainc.com


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