Seminar: Thinking Aloud

In its Research and Development phase, Zamyn delivered two seminars under the title 'Thinking Aloud', held at the London School of Economics. These closed intellectual events focused on the heterogeneity of influential voices at the frontline of cultural, intellectual and wealth production, and brought together internationally established cultural commentators, academics, artists, writers, psychoanalysts, policy analysts and business leaders, from developed and developing economies. Participants debated a number of themes to explore their different perspectives on the relationship between culture and globalisation.

The seminars raised key questions relating to communication and identity in a global age and developed new insights, and framed original perspectives on the role of culture in a globalising world. The emerging findings and new concepts enable Zamyn to rethink the dynamics between corporate globalisation and "peripheral" cultures and to shape new concepts of corporate identity that recognize corporations as cultural agents. These concepts significantly extend recent definitions of corporate citizenship and update them for the challenges of the 21st century. Particular issues that emerged included:

Management of pluralism: The challenge of dealing with globalisation lies in the management of pluralism. When strategies relating to pluralism are not inclusive, then mistrust breeds. This management should go beyond simplistic pro-/anti- stances but focus on inclusive debates by involving as many stakeholders as possible. Participants suggested that any management of globalisation should be open and seen as a trust-building exercise. Corporate social responsibilities were considered to be part of this management.

Culture as a driver of debate: Traditional tools such as politics or economics do not provide a complete understanding of globalisation, and culture, therefore, should be seen as a common ground for economic and political decision-making. Culture can enhance trust and is often more dynamic in its impact than political or economic institutions alone.

Transnational corporations are major drivers of social change: People are more interdependent with corporations and their products and services than ever before. New communication tools, as well as global public health issues have made this interdependency more legitimate whilst weakening the role of nation-states. Positioning these drivers at the forefront of negotiations is essential.