The Business of Peace-building: Redeeming the Entrepreneurial Spirit for Reconciliation
What would happen if some of humanity’s entrepreneurs changed, from a life motivated largely by planning and working for personal autonomy, flexibility and wealth creation, to the business of peace-building and the development of communities of shalom, human flourishing and well-being? This thesis examines the characteristics of people it identifies as peace-builders, involved at a community level, and compares them, their values, worldview and praxis, with the well-documented research into what this thesis calls ‘the entrepreneurial spirit’. The similarities and differences between those groups are explored within the framework of three themes, namely: • Theme 1: In what ways are the worldviews/values of peace-builders similar to or different from those of entrepreneurs? • Theme 2: In what ways do the leadership styles of peace-builders align with those who have succeeded in building an entrepreneurial business? • Theme 3: What reciprocal influences do the peace-builder and their communities have on each other?
Exploring an area where a dearth of literature fails to advance an understanding of the processes that shift the potential entrepreneur’s primary focus from autonomy to the business of peace-building and the community context in which it occurs, this research points to key concepts that assist in that journey. Through both qualitative and quantitative inquiry in Armenia and Myanmar, each with different histories, cultures, philosophies and economies, the thesis examines the worldviews/values of peace-builders and the societal factors that might lead entrepreneurs being drawn into the business of peace-building. It explores why the worldview/values peace-builders embrace enable them to see an alternative future to that held by most of the people in the communities in which they, as peace-builders, live, and how those values help them lead others to a future of reconciliation and community well-being. By seeking insights into the peace-builders’ motivations, their cultural heroes and mentors, and their views of the issues that spark violence and methodological approaches to peace-building, the thesis aims to encourage reflection on peace-builder’s leadership styles, and the reciprocal influences between them and their communities. Using the lens of peace-building as a business, it encourages existential and ontological consideration of their work by using a phenomenological framework of radical humanism. Conflating ‘for profit’ and ‘social entrepreneurship’ enterprises, this research analyses peace-builders by pointing to those characteristics identified as seminal by the peace-builders themselves: the value of struggle, kenosis-based servant leadership, and the development of value-based education regarding respect for ‘the other’. The thesis concludes by suggesting a possible path for the structural review of business entities – particularly corporate structures, community activity and educational events to increase the number of peace-builders and outlines further areas of inquiry on peace-building generally.