Report – TNCs – the role of business in international affairs

The workshop about transnational corporations and their role in international affairs was scheduled on 1th of September. The workshop took place on Zoom video platform and it was followed by seven participants. It consisted of three main parts, presentation, group discussion and quiz game at the end. The main aim of the workshop was to give the participants basic understanding of the concepts, changing nature of business and international relations, and the role corporate activism plays in the world affairs.

The first part of the workshop started with short video that aimed to introduce the topic and make participants more familiar with the concepts in matter. The presentation was divided into three parts: the general definition of the corporate activism, TNCs, and international affairs; the theoretical frameworks that examine relations between business field and political sphere; and case studies of transnational corporations with strong corporate activism strategy. After defining the concepts, two theoretical frameworks regarding the actors in world affairs were analyzed. One, state-centered that emphasizes the central and, as to the theory, the only important role states as the main actors in international relations play. And, the other, business-centered, that underlines the emerging power of transnational corporations and as to this, independent and powerful international economic system business elite has created. After researching the official indexes of the world’s most powerful states and corporations, the balanced approach, something in between these two extreme theoretical frameworks, appeared as the one closest to the real state-corporation power relations. The last part of the presentation examined the case of Ban & Jerry’s recent withdrawal from Israeli market. This case study underlined the motives corporation had behind such a decision, the financial and legal repercussions it might face, as well as the symbolic moral message sent by boycotting Israeli policies towards Palestinians.

The last part of the workshop consisted of a quiz game. The game took place on the game-learning platform Kahoot. It consisted of ten questions. They were based on the topics covered in the presentation. Furthermore, the participants also had to research about the new case study – Huawei case in the US. This task remained as a homework and additional assessment of the participants’ performance in the workshop.

Throughout all these segments participants also had an opportunity to ask clarifying questions and initiate further discussion about the above mentioned topics.