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 27 2013: Global businesses will go where there is a willingness to adopt a work ethic that maximises production and profits.

    "Willingness" in this context, stems either from the notion that the work ethic is endemic in that locality, or from a desperation to alleviate unemployment. It rarely happens that a global business can find a locality where such a work ethic is endemic, and at the same time where labour is cheap enough to maximise profits.

    What then remains, is a kind of predation on the desperation of local communities to create employment at all costs. In every one of those cases, it is the community that has to change to accommodate the incoming business - almost never vice versa. This is not respectful.

    There have been exceptions. Examples include the creation of the village of Saltaire in Yorkshire by businessman/philanthropist Titus Salt, and the creation of the community of Port Sunlight near Liverpool by the Lever Brothers - both in the UK and from the Victorian era. In both cases, the business ethic went hand-in-hand with a deep respect for human sensibilities on the local scale. Both Titus Salt and the Lever Brothers recognised that a happy, healthy workforce is synonymous with high volume, high quality production.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Titus_Salt

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Port_Sunlight

    Respect between the global and the local has to be mutual in order for the relationship to be fulfilling. At the moment, it seems to be exclusively one-way.
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      May 28 2013: Your comments have some synergy with what Trista Brophy has said below. The difference between the supply and demand side of relationships. The theme keeps coming up within the Future of Local conversation... the need find new ways to manage both supply and demand in more positive ways.

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