July 2011

Date Archive

Tom SweeneyAs an expatriate Englishman with an anthropological penchant, it is perhaps unsurprising that my interest is in the socio-cultural aspects of corporate social responsibility (CSR).

Recently, when researching mining companies working in Papua New Guinea (PNG), my attention was drawn to the issue of how large corporations are impacting non-industrial or non-capitalist societies.

The presence of mining in PNG has inarguably changed the cultural landscape of the area. Many communities not just in PNG but globally, have been thrust into the economic sphere of influence of the Western world, with little preparation or choice, due to their geographical proximity to operations owned and run by large multinational corporations.

Paul HohnenWe read nowadays of many clashes. Leaving aside the titanic struggles so breathlessly expounded on sports pages, the conflicts I am thinking of are the great global shapers of politics and economics. They might be between technologies (e.g. Apple vs Android), between business models (e.g. Google vs the rest), between economic development models (e.g. free market vs managed capitalism), and even between civilisations (e.g. The West vs Islam).I have to confess that I am relatively relaxed about most of these.

In many cases these are not only inevitable but healthy differences of approach. The differences spur political debate and decisions, drive technological development, and encourage fresh thinking. In turn, these promote the more effective operations of our democratic systems and capital markets. These are clashes which result in the kind of ‘creative destruction’ that Joseph Schumpeter described.

I am, however, less relaxed about one clash that seems to be coming to a head.