Skip to main content

Business in War Zones: How Companies Promote Peace in Iraq


The private sector is vital to building and sustaining peace. These efforts are often recognized as “Business for Peace” or “Peace through Commerce.” Academic research on Business for Peace is almost twenty years old and tends to be theoretical. This paper is the first to present qualitative findings on businesses operating in an active violent conflict such as the case of Iraq. Companies in Iraq operate under the constant threat of violence and yet many still try to enhance peace through operations. We interviewed more than 40 participants who were business owners, managers, government officials, and international policymakers who were active in the Iraqi theater. We discuss our findings that relate to the perception of company activities as peace enhancing into four categories: capacity building, rule of law, social cohesion, and local engagement. Our findings support the existing business and peace categories of rule of law and social cohesion. Our findings also suggest that current theory may be missing capacity building and local engagement as important business activities to promote peace. We conclude by noting the limitations of the paper and the need for more qualitative research.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.


Download references


The author(s) received no financial support for the research, authorship, and/or publication of this article.

Author information

Authors and Affiliations


Corresponding author

Correspondence to John E. Katsos.

Ethics declarations

Conflict of interests

The author(s) declared no potential conflicts of interest with respect to the research, authorship, and/or publication of this article.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Check for updates. Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Katsos, J.E., AlKafaji, Y. Business in War Zones: How Companies Promote Peace in Iraq. J Bus Ethics 155, 41–56 (2019).

Download citation

  • Received:

  • Accepted:

  • Published:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI: