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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    Jun 4 2013: There is some really good commentary above about how physical presence businesses can be local and some of the problems that global businesses can cause. The local question is much broader than this. Many services, like insurance are global and not all products are on a shelf. I am thinking about this very broadly from a structured business model perspective as to how businesses and community can think global:

    First global businesses should identify who they consider to be local non-principal stakeholders. By these I mean employees, suppliers, distributors, local and national governments, advisers, the public at large and etc., (but not owners) -since each of these may have local (to them) interests in business conduct.

    Next they should have stakeholder analysis or discussions (directly or by proxy) about what would benefit each and set some goals that can be tracked. A hidden element to this is building the trust that Colby Ford refers to. To be local to those who consider themselves a locality, stakeholders need to feel safe in that you are listening and trying to avoid doing them harm.

    Third there are some higher level principles loosely under social responsibility, but also enlightened self interest that should be followed. This might include sustainability, fostering local diversity (even among competitors?), reinvestment and etc.

    Finally, transparency in reporting to your local communities on who they are, how you have listened and what you are aiming to do, would go a long long way in going local = being trusted locally and a positive contributor to the locality.

    Localities can do similar thinking to ensure they are properly engaged with “outsiders” and to not forget themselves as whole, not just individual interests.
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      Jun 6 2013: So would you agree with Mitchell that the question should be "How does a community create a fulfilling relationship with a global business?" and a discussion about empowering 'local' communities would be more useful?
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        Jun 6 2013: I started out thinking 50/50, but the reality as I reason below is that local push may be more pragmatic in most cases.

        Global can claim ignorance or bias in local demands if they are not well crafted.Who gets held to task for not being imaginative? There are benefits that may come to business from thinking local down the risky line, but based on some straw polls of mine, only 10-15% of the time business really seeks innovation. More often they react to problems or rules. So it can be a long wait if local does not push matters.

        Thus, The locality has responsibility to think about what would be positive from/with global business and do what it can to make it work through positive or negative incentives and to make itself be seen as sufficiently distinct and important. For local to make their side work optimally, they need a holistic understanding of how their locality works. This tool of understanding can help guide their end of the relationship.

        Once fair expectations are set (on both sides) disclosure and transparency ideally would build trust and lead to "correction" and beneficial feedback.

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