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Francois Lenfant

On business, conflict and peace: Interaction and collaboration in Central Africa


This dissertation explores business interaction with peace and conflict in Central Africa. In the past few decades, the role of business in fueling conflict has received much attention from academics and practitioners. More recently, the debate on the role of business in conflict has broadened to include attention for the ways in which companies can help contribute to peace. To shed light on this topic, this dissertation looks at how different types of international companies perceive the opportunities and the challenges of doing business in conflict-affected areas in Central Africa. It also examines whether and how international companies participate in multistakeholder partnerships to help further peace and reconciliation. The findings indicate that companies are more inclined to report on their economic and social impacts than on conflict-related issues and that CSR activities in Central Africa are rather generic. The findings also suggest that hybrid organizational forms, which combine a social mission with commercial activities, seem well suited to tackle issues found in (post-)conflict settings because they have a clear social agenda embedded in their organizational objectives, they are keen to engage positively with all stakeholders, they promote a sense of togetherness, and they are directly involved in development work at community level. The findings also suggest that transformative partnerships that have a high level of community participation, take into consideration issues directly related to conflicts such as ethnic divides, community-government relations, artisanal mining, and transparency, or tackle root causes of conflicts are more likely to contribute to peace and reconciliation.