The Business of Democracies that Deliver: Reflections on CIPE’s 25th Anniversary

05.15.2009 | Articles | John D. Sullivan

This year, the Center for International Private Enterprise (CIPE) celebrates the 25th anniversary of its founding. CIPE was created in 1983 and is one of the four core institutes of the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) and an affiliate of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. This anniversary provides an opportunity to reflect on the history of our organization, the successes and challenges over the years, and – most importantly – what lies ahead and why CIPE’s work is more important today than ever before.

CIPE was founded on the idea that economic freedom and political freedom are inextricably intertwined. This idea, that progress comes through a combination of political and economic reforms, has gained weight over the years and is becoming more widely recognized. However, that idea was not unanimously accepted in the 1980s and neither is it now. Many proponents of democracy assistance keep asking: why should we be concerned with market economy? CIPE’s belief is that private enterprise plays an important role in developing and sustaining democracy.

The rise of democracy around the world since 1974, or as Samuel Huntington called it, the “third wave” of democracy,1 significantly increased the number of electoral democracies, bolstering widespread optimism about the future of democratic development. Yet, competitive elections are just a first step of democratic progress. Many of these countries still lack the core attributes of a democracy – political freedoms and civil liberties – even if they hold competitive elections.

Therefore, the consolidation of democracy – meaning the process through which democracy becomes deeply institutionalized and broadly legitimate in a society – should be the ultimate objective of international efforts to support democracy around the world.2 A primary objective of that consolidation is building democracies that deliver in economic terms. This article will look briefly at the history of CIPE’s work and discuss how CIPE’s programs and partners have been advancing this objective.

John D. Sullivan has been the Executive Director of CIPE since 1991. In 1983, he was associate director of the bi-partisan Democracy Program that created the National Endowment for Democracy that supports CIPE. From 1977 to 1982, he worked at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Public Affairs Department and Special Project Division. In 1976, Sullivan joined the President Ford Election Committee in the research department on campaign strategy, polling, and market research. Prior to this he worked with the Institute for Economic Research and the Office of Minority Business Enterprise (U.S. Department of Commerce) in Los Angeles on projects to stimulate small and minority enterprise. Sullivan has a Ph.D. in international relations from the University of Pittsburgh, and is the author of a number of articles and publications on the transition to democracy in Central and Eastern Europe, corporate governance, and market-oriented democratic development.

The views expressed by the author are his own and do not necessarily represent the views of the Center for International Private Enterprise. The Center for International Private Enterprise grants permission to reprint, translate, and/or publish original articles from its Economic Reform Feature Service provided that (1) proper attribution is given to the original author and to CIPE and (2) CIPE is notified where the article is placed and a copy is provided to CIPE’s Washington office.