The Role of Business Associations in Democracy

Network members attending the meeting in Abidjan.

Members of a CIPE-supported business association network attend a meeting in Abidjan.

Business associations contribute immensely to economic growth, development, peace, and prosperity.  They play a key role in building inclusive entrepreneurship ecosystems and can bolster the ability of firms of all sizes to grow and create jobs.

Business associations are integral to the democratic process, as they represent the entrepreneurial interests of the middle class, thereby making them essential vehicles for popular participation in a democratic society.

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“FCPA Professor” Discusses Corruption Law’s Enforcement

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Known as “The FCPA Professor” for his highly trafficked blog, Southern Illinois University Law Professor Mike Koehler spoke in Washington, DC on October 2, 2014 about what he sees as flaws in the way FCPA enforcement is carried out.

In his latest book, The Foreign Corrupt Practices Act in a New Era, Koehler dissects recent developments and trends related to the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) and its enforcement. Although often a critic of FCPA prosecutions, Koehler maintains that the law itself is sound and apt – even for today’s globalized corporate environment.

He submits, however, that a gap exists between the text of the FCPA statute and current DOJ and SEC enforcement. Koehler ties this gap to the large number of corporate actions, which almost always lead to out-of-court settlements, as opposed to actions against individuals which would require greater judicial review.

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Harnessing Markets to Reduce Extreme Poverty

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When “3 billion people on the planet making less than $3 a day, [are] effectively cut out of society, we are missing the opportunity of all those people to be our musicians, our Einsteins, and our professors- it is really all of us that lose.”

In an event on harnessing the power of markets to tackle global poverty, American Enterprise Institute President Arthur Brooks and Acumen founder and CEO Jacqueline Novogratz highlighted the role markets can play in enabling the poor to participate fully in society.

By treating the poor “as assets to society,” rather than liabilities, “we’re going to enliven their capital and that will also give them earned success and dignity,” said Brooks. Novogratz’s philosophy is to do just that – by investing in the poor through so-called “patient capital.”

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Assessing the Business Environment and Entrepreneurial Ecosystem in Egypt and Tunisia

Members of Tunisia's business community share their concerns at a March 2014 policy roundtable.

Members of Tunisia’s business community share their concerns at a March 2014 policy roundtable.

We know that North African economies urgently need economic reforms, opportunities for youth, and greater economic inclusion. But what do we know about where the opportunities lie and – just as important – what are the greatest barriers that obstruct the growth of businesses?

A few salient insights emerged from a recent survey of 131 Egyptian and 100 Tunisian entrepreneurs and business owners, which was conducted by the Center on Development, Democracy, and the Rule of Law at Stanford in cooperation with CIPE. Many of the findings will come as no surprise — the business environment and entrepreneurial ecosystems have room to improve in both countries, and political uncertainty puts a drag on business. One major, policy-relevant finding is the need to address disparities in access to opportunity.

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The Business Case for Putting Ethics at the Heart of Corporate Culture

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Participants at Ethisphere’s 2014 Europe Ethics Summit.

In today’s global business environment, corruption poses a risk that companies with operations around the world must understand and manage effectively. Those that do reap the benefits. As the Ethisphere Institute points out, the business case is clear: the five year annualized performance of the World’s Most Ethical (WME) Companies Index was 21 percent, beating S&P 500’s 18 percent. Similarly, the ten year annualized performance of the WME Index is, at 11.4 percent, significantly higher than that of S&P 500 at 7.4 percent.

The key to success in ethical business is placing ethics at the center of corporate culture and building strong compliance programs that can mitigate corruption risks. That was the overarching theme of the recent 2014 Europe Ethics Summit: Leadership through Ethics and Governance, hosted in London by the Ethisphere Institute and Thomson Reuters. The Summit was Ethisphere’s first such event in Europe and gathered nearly 150 compliance experts, professionals, and stakeholders.

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Ghana: A Trendsetter for Resource-Rich Emerging Markets?

In four out of six petroleum agreements recently approved by Ghana’s Parliament, the government required oil and gas producers to certify compliance with the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA), UK Bribery Act, and OECD Anti-Bribery Convention. At an event in June sponsored by the Ghana government, the FCPA was referred to as model legislation for fighting abuses in the oil and gas industry. This new standard highlights the importance of anti-corruption compliance for companies and businesses seeking to do business in global markets.

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Case Studies: Advancing Anti-Corruption Efforts in Armenia and Thailand

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Corruption is a systemic problem that plagues many transitional countries across the world, rooted in weak rule of law and lack of private property rights. Not only does corruption erode trust in public institutions, such practices also hinder economic growth and weaken democratic governance.

The corruption challenge can be addressed by building responsive institutions that offer basic assurances of private property rights and ensure law and order. CIPE programs address the root causes of corruption through a multi-pronged approach. CIPE programs mobilize the private sector to raise anti-corruption standards and advocate for reforms; streamline regulations and reduce implementation gaps to limit opportunities for corruption; improve corporate governance to strengthen firm-level integrity; facilitate collective action to level the playing field and coordinate company efforts; and equip small and medium-sized enterprises to resist bribery and meet the requirements of global value chains.

Two recent case studies, described below, show these CIPE approaches in action.

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