TED Conversations

Closing Statement from Daniel Raven-Ellison

Thank you everyone who has taken the time to contribute to this important question. Reading all of the comments, it's impossible not to think deeply about how relationships between global businesses and local communities are developed.

It's easy to think of global business and local community as two different things. This question is perhaps guilty of leading the conversation into such an easy binary. Of course, "global businesses" are made by multiple and interconnected local communities and many local communities are created by large businesses. Neither local or global are innately better than each other, they are so inextricably linked through uncountable or quantifiable relationships that one cannot exist without the other.

Aju made this point well by saying "global business creates a community of beneficiaries such as employees, contractors, vendors and even customers in the local geography. Except for a thin “live wire” of control that runs to the global headquarters, global business in each region have a very local existence."

Issues of supply and demand are woven through the whole of this conversation. What do people want, what is available and what is on offer are all vital questions, but interlaced through all the comments are issues of power. Who controls what is available to people and what decisions do those people make when consuming an idea, product or place? Mitchell started to address this by asking us to turn the conversation's question on its head by asking "How does a community create a fulfilling relationship with a global business?"

Candy shared a way forward by suggesting "Every community requires collaborative partnerships among business owners/operators engaged in facilitated discussion for the good of the community. This requires a common goal. Whether it is education, social culture...". A practical note that is all about a relationship of working together.

The conversation continues at www.thefutureoflocal.com. Please join us.

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  • May 20 2013: It cant, in fact it destroys local culture local community and customs.

    Dont believe me? Go somewhere remote(ish). Then visit the same place 20 years on.
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      May 20 2013: Your position is that global businesses will always destroy local community and customs? Is it not possible for sensitive business practices to conserve local communities and customs?
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        May 20 2013: If you start a business with that intention and value it is possible! But pretty much impossible to change an existing global business.
      • May 21 2013: No it's not possible for sensitive business practices to conserve local communities and customs, inherently the corp has other goals that it must legally follow for the shareholders.

        I'm honestly sorry to disillusion you with such facts, but they are facts.

        An example if it were not in the corp interest to have a 'green policy' do you think any would? The reality is they all have because it's now seen in their best interests to have one.. even shell oil has one, and one has to see the irony there. And while the employes of such green departments do go, it's really a pr exercise. You can pollute one country and in another say look we build 4 schools, are we good. The whole has to be measured, not the parts.

        DL states it correctly, but I add only small locally owned business can sustain the goals you define. Too often we forget that small business IS the lifeblood, they employ more people, they pay more taxes (by sheer numbers) the deliver what the local communities need every day.

        Global business do none of those things, yet people keep believing that they are important. I'd suggest that you look at the top 50 global business's and realize that 50% of them could be wiped out and we'd suffer no loss. There is no way 50% of small business's could be wiped out and the community not suffer a loss.

        I fortunately, and simultaneously have lived in some of those places, I'd suggested that you visit, many now I wont go back to, I know it wont be the same, I know culture and traditions will have been lost. I know the diversity that the planet once had with every country being a unique and wonderful experience, is and has been diluted by corp, not only selling their wares, but changing the populations mindset to value and want what they offer. I suggest that in part this is responsible for the Arab Spring, the loss of culture some feel and are fighting tooth and nail to retain, through what ever means they perceive will achieve that goal. Ironically, so are the corps.
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          May 25 2013: I really enjoyed reading your point of view Tify, and I believe you outline really important issues. The disconnection between shareholders and local realities for instance is something that could be a whole conversation in itself.
          However, and although I do share some of your reserve about green policies, isn't it somehow possible, in specific industries at least, to place the preservation of the idea of "local" at the centre of what companies do?

          I'm thinking about companies such as VEJA shoes or Hard Graft which are, admittedly on a rather small scale at the moment, making the most of local know-hows to make their products. Luxury companies such as Hermès are keeping alive artisan jobs and savoir-faire that would have in some cases disappeared were it not for their existence.

          I do feel like there is an opportunity for global businesses to have their parts in preserving local cultures, especially through integrating local techniques & specialities in their products, which is very much the case in the hospitality industry, especially in the higher-end segment which I know best. However, it is more difficult to implement in industries where revenues are driven by cost-cutting rather than by value-adding schemes.

          I concur with you in saying that there is a case to be made in the sense of protecting small, locally-owned businesses. Your example of the Arab Spring is very revealing, for it can be interpreted as a reaction to the cultural loss you underline very justly. This feels me with optimism though: if citizens, hence consumers, are conscious of their own cultural exception, they will be likely to have a preference for businesses rooted in these values, whether that be for buying, working, or partnering. Maybe that's one way for local to "get back" at companies that do not care enough about their specific needs. What do you think?

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