Corporate Diplomacy: What is it and why is it important?

Image: Getty, Thomas Barwick

The international power and influence of corporations has never been greater. Corporations exert a more pervasive influence on our daily lives than the state.

Yet, such is the power and influence of corporations that this may lead them into conflict with governments and the state more broadly. This is particularly the case where multi-national enterprises are viewed as disrupters, a threat to security and control, or indeed usurping the very sovereignty of the state. Moreover, despite the levelling and homogenising effect of globalisation, multi-national enterprises are often confronted with challenges of cross-border adaptation, whether legislative, environmental, or cultural.

These challenges have given rise to the development of the phenomenon of corporate diplomacy. The talk will discuss key aspects of corporate diplomacy, its importance and impact.

Bio of Tim Hughes
Tim Hughes holds a B.A. (Hons) and M.A. (Cum Laude) in Political Studies from the University of Cape Town and a Master of Studies (Cum Laude) from Cambridge University and a Post-Graduate Diploma in Global Business at Oxford University’s Said Business School.

He was awarded the Madingley Prize at Cambridge University as the top Masters student in International Relations. He is currently completing an MSc on Global Corporations at London University.

After working as a university researcher, senior tutor and lecturer, in 2001 Tim established and ran the South African of Institute of International Affairs Parliamentary Office, thereafter its SADC Parliamentary Programme and its Governance of Africa’s Natural Resources Programme. At SAIIA he was responsible for providing research, investment advisory and government relations services to its corporate members including BP, Anglo American, AngloGold-Ashanti, De Beers, Alexander Forbes Afrinet, MTN, Hollard, Distell, Woolworths and SASOL. During this time Tim was lead researcher on the SADC futures project and was a lead author on the team that drafted futures scenarios for the South African Presidency. He also worked closely with the South African government and the Kimberley Process on a campaign to tackle the scourge of blood/conflict diamonds.

Tim also ran executive education courses at the Gordon Institute of Business Science on the Global Environment of Business for Anglo American, Standard Bank, Massmart, SASOL, Webber Wentzel, and Barlow International.

Tim has authored two books and edited another 24, and was the BBC’s Nelson Mandela Researcher until the late President’s passing in December 2013.

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