Faced with pressures from governments and civil society, multinational enterprises (mnes) have increasingly committed themselves to signing codes, charters and guidelines of good conduct developed, for instance, by the United Nations (the un Global Compact), the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (oecd Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises), or multi-stakeholder initiatives such as the Kimberly Process (a joint governmental, industry and civil society initiative to stem the flow of conflict diamonds). The issue of how to implement such commitments requires abilities to engage external counterparts constructively and — equally important — the ability to convince actors within a mne to agree to implement such codes of conduct. This article discusses the challenges of implementing the oecd Guidelines and proposes that mnes consider appointing business diplomats, who the authors consider are best qualified to meet these complex but also increasingly important business challenges. Business diplomats are best qualified to nurture such a business culture that supports, leads and cajoles a mne to orient its business activities towards an overall balance of diverse objectives and respect for obligations. These objectives and obligations are at times in opposition with each other, and at other times coalesce towards achieving a sustained business that is based on publically agreed criteria of good conduct.
Raymond Saner and Lichia Yiu‘Swiss Executives as Business Diplomats in the New Europe: Evidence from Swiss Pharmaceutical and Agro-Industrial Global Companies’Organizational Dynamicsvol. 34 no. 3 2005 pp. 298-312.
Raymond Saner and Varinia Michalun (eds)Negotiations between State Actors and Non-State Actors: Case Analyses from Different Parts of the World (Dordrecht: Republic of Letters2009) pp. 1-35 and 119-138.
Saner and Yiu‘Swiss Executives as Business Diplomats in the New Europe’ p. 302; Saner and Michalun (eds) Negotiations between State Actors and Non-State Actors p. 25; and Raymond Saner and Lichia Yiu ‘Business-Government-ngo Relations: Their Impact of Global Economic Governance’ in Edward Cooper Brian Hocking and William Maley (eds) Global Governance in Diplomacy: World Apart? (New York: Palgrave Macmillan 2008) pp. 85-104.