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Business Diplomacy in Practice: Advancing Interests in Crisis Situations

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This practitioner’s perspective focuses on how to combine the efforts of a company, home and supportive governments, and key stakeholders to address, and hopefully to overcome, an issue caused by the harmful actions of a host government against a company. It begins with a suggested definition for what constitutes business diplomacy based on the author’s experience of working with companies that have used this approach in the Balkans, Central Asia, West Africa, and sub-Saharan Africa, as well as commenting on how the practice of business diplomacy should be viewed as distinct from other forms of high-level advocacy that a company may wish to undertake in addressing issues in a foreign country. It then looks at the importance of aligning a company’s private interests with the national interests of a home and supportive government and, ideally, with essential allies. This section also looks at the reasons why a company would want to turn to diplomacy for assistance, the issues at stake when a supportive government agrees to take on the company’s cause, and the importance of maintaining that alignment throughout the business diplomacy effort. The article then looks at the elements that need to be understood in order to advance those aligned interests towards a common objective and a measurable result. Finally, the article concludes with some practical recommendations, both for companies operating in foreign countries and their home governments.

Affiliations: 1: Atlantic Strategy Group SPRL35 Square de Meeûs, 1000


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