Journal of Business Ethics

, Volume 89, Supplement 4, pp 515–528 | Cite as

New Convergences in Poverty Reduction, Conflict, and State Fragility: What Business Should Know

  • Borany Penh


A common moral imperative to reduce human suffering in developing countries has helped to bring the international poverty reduction and conflict mitigation agendas together. But while research and practice are well established in the fields of poverty and conflict, the nexus between these two fields at the theoretical and practical levels is largely nascent. Lack of a shared body of knowledge has arguably impeded the ability of these communities to work together toward the overlapping goals of reducing poverty and conflict in countries affected by violence and instability. Business, as a key sector of the international community, could potentially make significant contributions to the joint agenda if it were better integrated in efforts to develop the nexus. This article surveys the current states-of-knowledge in the fields of poverty and conflict, including the increasing influence of the fragile states theory. It then discusses some of the major schools of thought helping to bring poverty reduction efforts into alliance with conflict mitigation efforts. The third section identifies important conceptual convergences and divergences between the fields and reconsiders the prominent assumption that economic opportunity can be a powerful incentive for peace and stability. Finally, this article discusses potential areas that could advance the nexus of poverty and conflict at both a theoretical and practical level.


business commerce conflict international development peace poverty state fragility 



Bottom/base of the pyramid


Community-driven reconstruction


Corporate social responsibility


Disarmament, demobilization, and reintegration


Department for International Development (of the United Kingdom)


Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative


Human Development Index


Information communication technology


Internally displaced person


International Monetary Fund


Kimberly Process Certification Scheme


Millennium Development Goals


Millennium Development Goal One


New Institutional Economics


Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development


Peace through Commerce


Poverty Reduction Strategy


Sustainable Livelihoods Approach


United Nations Development Programme


United Nations High Commission for Refugee


United States Agency for International Development


World Food Programme


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Office of Poverty ReductionU.S. Agency for International DevelopmentWashingtonU.S.A.

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