Edited by Andreas Georg Scherer and Guido Palazzo
Chapter 17: Global Business as an Agent of World Benefit: New International Business Perspectives Leading Positive Change
17 Global business as an agent of world beneﬁt: new international business perspectives leading positive change Nancy J. Adler Let us choose to unite the power of markets with the strength of universal ideals. (United Nations Secretary-General Koﬁ Annan, 1997–20071) Introduction The relationship between global business and society – including business’s search for mutually beneﬁcial advances that address the world’s most pressing needs – has become one of the deﬁning issues of the 21st century. Throughout the world, immense entrepreneurial energy is ﬁnding expression, energy whose converging force is in direct proportion to the turbulence, crises and the call of our times. One-by-one positive disruptions are erasing the false dichotomy embedded in ‘the great trade-oﬀ illusion’ – the belief that ﬁrms must sacriﬁce outstanding ﬁnancial performance if they choose to strategically address societal challenges. Could it be that – with a global perspective and the right mix of innovative leadership and scholarship – the creation of a sustainable society and planet could become the international business opportunity of the 21st century?2 The 21st-century challenge The success of global society is increasingly inﬂuenced, if not deﬁned, by the behavior of multinational corporations (MNCs). More than half of the world’s hundred largest economic entities today are corporations; only 47 are countries (UNCTAD 2005). ExxonMobil, for example, with 2005 revenues of over $341 billion and proﬁts of $36 billion, is larger than twothirds (125) of the 184 countries whose economies are ranked by the World Bank (ibid.). Similarly, Wal-Mart...
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