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.
- Plumbing for Peace. In Indivisible: Global Leaders on Shared Security (pp. 193-203) (2018)
- Co-author with Achim Wennmann of Business and Conflict in Fragile States: The Case for Pragmatic Solutions (London: International Institute for Strategic Studies, 2016)
- Editor and lead author of Management in Complex Environments: Questions for Leaders (Stockholm: NIR, 2013)
- Co-author with Roger Fisher et al. of Coping With International Conflict: A Systematic Approach to Influence in International Negotiation (Prentice Hall 1997)
- Editor of Roger Fisher et al., Beyond Machiavelli: Tools for Coping With Conflict (Harvard University Press 1994)
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
- Author of South African Conflict Futures. IFR Business Futures South Africa 2020. Stellenbosch: Institute for Futures Research (2020).
- Author of Business (not) for peace: A call for conflict-sensitive policy in fragile states. South African Institute for International Affairs Policy Briefing 182 (May 2019)
- Interview, Business as Peace-builder. Special Report on Business Ethics: Business for Peace. Knowledge@Wharton and AKO Foundation (May 2019), pp. 4-7
- Co-author of A Seat at the Table: Capacities and Limitations of Private Sector Peacebuilding. Africa Centre for Dispute Settlement, CDA and PRIO (2019)
- Co-author with Herbert M’cleod of The underlying causes of fragility and instability in Sierra Leone. London: Commission on State Fragility, Growth and Development (2018)
- Author of Access to remedy through consensual processes, Africa Centre for Dispute Settlement Working Paper Series 2018/2.
- Author of Companies in fragile contexts: Redefining social investment, Africa Centre for Dispute Settlement Working Paper Series 2018/1
- Co-author with Achim Wennmann and John Luiz of Study of Operational Experience of Business Environment Reform Programming in Fragile and Conflict-Affected States. London: DIFD (11 July 2017)
- Co-author with Jason Miklian and Peer Schouten of From Boardrooms to Battlefields: 5 New Ways that Businesses Claim to Build Peace. Harvard International Review (10 June 2016)
- Author of Building Community-Centred Stakeholder Engagement: A Conflict Resolution Approach. Heinrich Böll Stiftung Perspectives (Issue 1, April 2016)
- Author of Business and Conflict in Fragile States: The Case for Pragmatic Solutions. GREAT Insights 5(1) 12-14 (2016)
- Author of Company-Community Mediation: Application of Standards, Africa Centre for Dispute Settlement Working Paper Series 2016/3.
- Co-author with Achim Wennmann of Operationalising Conflict Prevention as Strong, Resilient Systems: Approaches, Evidence, Action Points (Geneva: Geneva Peacebuilding Platform 2012)
Case Studies & Teaching Materials
- Author of “The best way to pay back employees is to look after their children”: Wilmanr’s path towards responsible sustainability management. GCF Case Story Series No. 4. Stockholm: Global Child Forum (2021).
- Author of “Power, direction, and hope”:An evaluation of Hand in Hand Eastern Africa’s First Decade. Stockholm and Cape Town: Hand in Hand and Africa Centre for Dispute Settlement
- Author of Confronting history, engaging the future: Hydro Brazil’s journey towards social sustainability. GCF Case Story Series No. 3. Stockholm: Global Child Forum (2018)
- Author of The Most Important People in the World: IKEA’s Broadening Perspective on the Best Interest of the Child. GCF Case Story Series No. 2. Stockholm: Global Child Forum (2016)
- Author of From Promise to Performance: Stora Enso’s Journey towards Mitigating Child Labour. GCF Case Story Series No. 1. Stockholm: Global Child Forum (2015)
- Editor for the ACCESS Facility series, Reflections from Practice, highlighting insights from senior company-community mediators (ongoing)
- Editor for the ACCESS Facility case story series on company – community conflict resolution processes (ongoing) and author of the case story, Resolving Labour Issues in the Electronics Industry in Mexico (2013)
- Co-author with Kate Kopischke of Advanced Training for Company-Community Mediation in Complex Environments: Model Curriculum. The Hague: ACCESS Facility (2015).
- Author of multiple case stories on business engagement in fragile contexts published in Management in Complex Environments: Questions for Leaders (Stockholm: International Council of Swedish Industry 2013)
Editorials & Press
- Land reform: Is there a right and a wrong? Network 24, 20 February 2020
- Time for mining companies to take responsibility, Financial Mail, 24 January 2020
- Economic and philanthropic activities in conflict zones don’t bring peace, Voices 360, 26 June 2019
- How business can play a peace-positive role in conflict. Pretoria News, 26 June 2019
- Let’s talk about how business and human rights are inextricably linked. Business Day, 2 April 2019
- How addressing power relations can propel mining forward. Fin24, 6 February 2019
- Dual mining indabas show gulf between corporate and social concerns. Sunday Times, 27 January 2019
- Could your business survive a revolution? Africa Business Insight, 21 August 2018
- The Risky Business of De-Risking in Fragile and Conflict Affected States. CDA, 16 December 2017
- Tackle the root of the problem before it spirals out of control. Business Day Live, 2 August 2017
- In Africa, some multinationals are too farsighted. Business Day Live, 19 September 2016
- Mind the Gap: An Interview with Brian Ganson. ACCESS Facility July 2016
- African conflict threatens. BusinessBrief February/March 2016
- Huge conflict cost for doing business in Africa. Mining Weekly 4 December 2015
- Actionable insight requires analysis of causes rather than conditions. OECD November 2015
- Is dialogue working? We need more dialogue to find out. London School of Economics October 2015
- The Mediator as Advocate. Harvard Negotiation and Mediation Clinical Program, February 2015
- Company-Community Conflicts: Challenges & Opportunities for Mediators in the African Context. United States Institute of Peace, July 2013
- Working together requires dialogue. Business Insight, April 2012
- Collaborating for peace, Focus on Faculty, BizED. March / April 2012
- Collaborations only work when properly managed. Leader.co.za, 1 December 2011
- Bridging differences requires skill. Leader.co.za, 30 June 2011
- Lessons for conflict and collaboration in the Karoo. Cape Business News, 1 May 2011