The Business Community as a Peacebuilding Actor

Principal Collaborators: Achim Wennmann and Jonathan Austin


This project examines the engagement of the business community in Kenya to mitigate election violence in 2013. This instance of preventive action is widely recounted as a “business for peace” success story where business involvement contributed to prevent election-related violence. Less well understood is how and to what extent the business community was able to act as an agent for peace against a backdrop of a diverse set of roles played by business in Kenya’s political economy.

In this vein, the overall goal of the case study is to situate this case of business and peace within Kenya’s broaden context of business and politics. The study has the objective (a) to account for the variety of roles business actors were playing in conflict and peace at the time of the election in 2013 (both positive and negative); (b) to document the successes but also limitations of business engagement a peacebuilding actor; and (c) to look at the lessons that can be drawn from developments post-2013 about the perceptions, motivations, and incentives that help explain the roles businesses do and do not assume in current conflict and peace dynamics in Kenya. The project hosted a validation workshop in Nairobi on 7 March, entitled 'Business Engagement to Prevent Election Violence in Kenya'. The case study on Kenya is led by Dr. Achim Wennmann and Dr. Jonathan Austin.

The study has been commissioned by the Africa Centre for Dispute Settlement (ACDS) in Cape Town, South Africa, as part of the larger research project “The Business Community as a Peacebuilding Actor”.  This project documents the wide range of company practice, the theories and assumptions on which different approaches are built, and assesses evidence of impact. It will also provide a framework and practical guidance for more effective planning and evaluation of business practice in this arena. The project is undertaken by a research consortium including CDA Collaborative Learning, the Africa Centre for Dispute Settlement (ACDS), and the Peace Research Institute Oslo (PRIO), with funding from the Carnegie Corporation and the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.


       AUSTIN, Johnathan Luke & WENNMANN, Achim. Business Engagement in Violence Prevention and Peacebuilding: The Case of Kenya. Conflict, Security & Development, 17 (6), 2017, pp. 451-472.

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