Brian Ganson

Brian Ganson
(Fletcher ’89, Harvard Law School ’89)

Professor Brian Ganson is an expert on socio-political risk mitigation, conflict prevention and resolution, and third party roles in post-conflict and other complex environments. His research, writing, teaching and consulting focus on the nexus of business, conflict, and development.

Brian Ganson is Professor and Head of the Africa Centre for Dispute Settlement (ACDS) at the University of Stellenbosch Business School, a platform for research and dialogue at the nexus of business, conflict and development. ACDS works with business, government, labor and communities to reduce the costs of conflict and increase collaborative opportunities. Professor Ganson’s focus is on particularly challenging environments. Examples of his advisory work include conflict risk assessment and mitigation planning with mining companies in Africa and Latin America; collaboration with NGOs on engagement strategies for mining affecting communities in the DRC and peace positive development in Kosovo; and conflict mapping to advance a comprehensive extractive industries policy for a Latin American government.

He has counseled UN agencies as well as the IFC on their operations in the
context of violent socio-political conflicts; advised UNDP on their extractives
industries strategy for Africa; and was Chair of the Expert Panel for the
evaluation of the work of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations in post-crisis transition. His work helps multi-national corporations, development agencies, and inter-governmental organizations meet their full range of goals in emerging economies and post-conflict societies.

Professor Ganson integrates academic and field perspectives to provide practice and policy-relevant insight. He is (among other work) co-author of the books, “Business and Conflict in Fragile States: The Case for Pragmatic Solutions”, and ” Managing in Complex Environments: Questions for Leaders”, author of “Business and Peace: A Need for New Questions and Systems Perspectives in Business”, and, “Peacebuilding: Beyond the Sustainable Development Goals”, and co-author of Business Environment
Reforms in Fragile and Conflict-Affected States: From a Transactions towards a Systems Approach in the Journal of International Business Policy. This and other research address the relationships among the private sector and conflict, human rights, and inclusive development. He has taught negotiation, mediation, and conflict risk mitigation for more than 30 years in both executive education and degree programmes at leading institutions including Harvard University; The Fletcher School, Tufts University; Stellenbosch University; and the University of Cape Town. Professor Ganson was previously a Senior Researcher with the Fletcher School Center for Human Rights and Conflict Resolution, and a Director of Conflict Management Group, a non-profit consulting firm founded to apply the innovative approaches of the Harvard Negotiation Project to protracted conflicts of public importance. He was a co-founder of the Organization Practice of Mitchell Madison Group, where he consulted to Fortune 100 companies across a variety of industries. Earlier he served as Chief of Staff to the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights in the U.S. Department of Education. He began his career as a human rights advocate in Texas, helping to expand access to quality higher education for underserved populations.

He received his Juris Doctor with honors from the Harvard Law School, his Master of Arts in Law and Diplomacy from The Fletcher School, Tufts University, and his Bachelor of Arts in history with high distinction from the University of Michigan.

Latest Work:


Book Chapters & Articles

  • Co-author with Kristian Hoelscher of Theorizing MSMEs in Contexts of Urban Violence, in Journal of Illicit Economies and Development (2020, Vol. 2, No. 2, pp. 1-20, forthcoming)
  • Co-author with Herbert M’cleod of The political economy of fragility: Business, conflict and peace in Sierra Leone, in Business and Politics (2019, Vol. 25, No. 2)
  • Co-author with John Luiz and Achim Wennmann of Business Environment Reforms in Fragile and Conflict-Affected States: From a Transactions towards a Systems Approach, in Journal of International Business Policy (2019, Vol 2, No. 3, pp. 217-236)
  • Author of Business and Peace: A Need for New Questions and Systems Perspectives, in Business and Peacebuilding: Beyond the Sustainable Development Goals (2019, J. Miklian, ed.), London: Routledge (download PDF preview for access)
  • Author of Unpacking the puzzle of business (not) for peace, in South African Journal of International Affairs (2019, Vol. 26, No. 2, 1-24)
  • Author of Plumbing for Peace, in Indivisible: Global Leaders on Shared Security (2018, Ru Freeman and Kerri Kennedy, eds.). Northhampton, MA: Olive Branch Press
  • Co-author with Achim Wennmann of The Corporation and Violent Conflict: Perspectives, Policy Responses and Future Trends, in Handbook of the International Political Economy of the Corporation, A. Noelke and C. May, eds. (Cheltenham: Edward Elgar, 2017)
  • Co-author with Achim Wennmann of Business and Institutional Reform in Hybrid Political Orders, in Institutional Reforms and Peace Building (London: Routledge, 2016, N. Ansorg & S. Kurtenbach, eds.)
  • Author of Business and conflict in fragile environments: Capabilities for conflict prevention, in Negotiation and Conflict Management Research Journal 7(2) 121-139 (2014)
  • Co-author with Diana Chigas of Grand Visions and Small Projects: Notes from the Field in South Eastern Europe, in Imagine Coexistence: Restoring Humanity after Violent Conflict (Jossey Bass 2003, Antonia Chayes & Martha Minow, editors)

Reports & Papers

Case Studies & Teaching Materials

Editorials & Press