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.

Showing single comment thread. View the full conversation.

  • May 31 2013: A very interesting question considering that this thread is being sponsored by Intercontinental Hotels Group, currently preparing to open a massive luxury hotel in occupied Tibet. This is a country where people are not free to follow their religious or cultural traditions - a photograph of their spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, can land them in jail, for instance - and where the local community faces jail, torture or worse for opposing the Chinese authorities.

    Interestingly, Intercontinental is naming their hotel the "Resort Lhasa Paradise". Anyone with any awareness of Tibet knows it is no paradise - a French TV reporter secretly filmed there earlier this month and described Lhasa as an "Orwellian" place. The chair of the US Senate's foreign relations committee recently described it as "among the most repressed and closed societies in the world". IHG's marketing, in contrast, helps promote the messaging favoured by the regime repressing freedom in TIbet. They want the world to think that Tibet is a happy place, where the local culture is preserved and respected. Intercontinental will trade on a local culture which is preserved only where it brings in tourist dollars. Right now, ancient parts of Lhasa are being bulldozed to make way for a shopping mall for tourists. In Tibet, local doesn't have much of a future.

    One of the many challenges Tibet faces is the vast influx of Han Chinese immigrants, who now make Tibetans a minority in their own capital. More than 90% of visitors to Tibet are Chinese - uninvited guests who will expect those who serve them in their luxury hotel to do so in Mandarin. IHG may decorate it with Tibetan crafts and employ some Tibetans to park the cars but this building entrenches Chinese occupation and Chinese culture in Tibet.

    Tibetans are not free to express their opinions about the building of this hotel, its employment practices, or the deceptive marketing it employs. Those who are, see www.freetibet.org/intercontinental

Showing single comment thread. View the full conversation.