Pierre TapieGlobal governance issues are forcing universities and colleges to increase their capacity for research and understanding of phenomena outside the national sphere. For Pierre Tapie, what happens at the interface of the worlds of business and socio-politics has never been so delicate. With four other major academic centers, the University of Mannheim in Germany, Keio in Japan, Fudan in China and Tuck Business School at Dartmouth in the USA, Tapie is starting The Council for Business in Society, a think tank about the mutual influences exerted by the political, societal and economic fields at the global scale. At stake is the strengthening of decisionmaking capacity among international actors at all levels. A Global exclusive.

You are announcing the creation of a think tank on issues related to globalization. Why is the theme “Business in Society” and not “Globalization” or “New Governance”?

Business in Society is a much broader title than “globalization” or “governance”. The Council for Business in Society is a very small circle of business schools, all of excellent reputation, located in countries that represent half of the world’s economy, that will combine their intellectual and social energies to explore topics of great societal importance, in a context of globalization. These fi ve schools share the belief that the consequences of what happens at the interface between business and the social and political environments in which they operate has never been more important. This interface is obviously highly contextual, that is, it is dependent on the societies where it takes place, while the consequences of these phenomena are often global. Companies have missions that a ect the public interest and the common good, positively or negatively. The objective of The Council for Business and Society is to explore, on the one hand, the consequences of business decisions on society and, on the other, the e ects that systems of regulation will or will not have on the behavior of
economic actors.
From October 2012, we will focus each year on specific topics in all their international diversity –governance and leadership, and issues such as financing health, changes in available energy, urbanization, the management of water, etc.

Where did this idea come from? Do your students –and their future employers– have particular expectations or aspirations from this approach?

This idea first came from university teams, who are in contact with students as much as companies and government. We find that our students are asking more and more questions about the consistency between their professional lives and what they want as citizens or parents, and that their future employers are finding their businesses increasingly subject to the challenge of sustainable development or corporate social responsibility. In addition, public o cials are very interested in developing a collective decision-making capacity, at all levels, between countries. 

What will the Council “produce”? 

An annual forum, by invitation only, at a very highlevel; studies; teaching materials; the organization of intercultural collaboration between students and teachers at di erent schools. 

Who will produce and who will lead?

Who are some of the Council’s leading figures? The students and teachers will produce under the direction of the Deans of the schools who act on the Council’s initiative and who are already leading fi gures. Soon, our teachers will become recognized faces. 

How can you ensure that this refl ection will be heard outside your inner circle?

The press will be invited to each forum. Press coverage will be structurally international by grouping correspondents from the fi ve countries of the schools. The work will be organized to interest targeted decision- makers and infl uential people. 

There is a fierce debate on de-globalization. Do you fear the word “global”? 

Speaking for myself, as an individual, I am not at all afraid of the word “global”, which represents the reality of many challenges and the scale at which they must be treated, as well as the reality of a large number of organizations. But behind the word “global” and “globalization”, we hear comments as simplistic as “the world is flat”. The world is not fl at. It is connected with plains, mountains, plateaux and valleys where the land is geologically, climatically, humanly, historically and culturally di erent. I do not believe in a standardization of cultures and practices that would bring all the inhabitants of the planet to adopt the same culinary, cultural and educational habits. There is indeed a rejection of this interpretation of the word “global” and “globalization”. If by “de-globalization”, one means the pursuit of a closer interaction of human and commercial exchanges, but a greater respect for the identity of peoples and cultures, then the word de-globalization is relevant. If it means self-su cient retreat to a small area that anxiously isolates itself from the rest of the world, then we must avoid the word. 

On the scale of global decisions, what concerns you most in the coming months? 

The EU’s inability to take bold decisions in terms of rules, and economic decision-making processes at the European level. We have a model that is exceptionally interesting for the checks and balances it has built in. This model cannot resist the speculative attacks of those who have an interest in its failure - suffice it to remember the organized attacks against the Euro at the time of its creation –by carrying integration further. It is absurd for Europeans to play a game of Prisoner’s Dilemma whereby fi scal dumping makes all the competing countries sterile. We need a European economic government that can make a number of collective decisions on behalf of wider European interests on the world scene. We should also get it done for the sake of Europe’s diplomatic weight. 

What qualities should students have to deal with globalization? 

Curiosity and the humility to listen and understand the new universes, cultural or conceptual, so that they can function in complex environments. The courage to reject decisions that others would like to make them take or assume, if they are at odds with their deepest values. Long-term vision and the ambition to look ahead. The willingness to participate in collective e ort and a fundamental empathy toward their peers as well as disadvantaged people. 

by Jean-Christophe Nothias