|The Redmond doctrineLessons from Microsoft’s corporate foreign policy|
Sep 10th 2019
IS MICROSOFT A digital nation and does it have a secretary of state? The answer of Brad Smith, the software giant’s top lawyer, is, well, diplomatic. Nation states are run by governments and firms need to be accountable to them, he says. But yes, he admits, he worries a lot about geopolitics these days.
Large companies have forever lobbied governments around the world—think Big Pharma or the oil majors. Sometimes the ties with their home countries’ diplomacy are very close indeed: in 2017 the former boss of ExxonMobil, Rex Tillerson, became President Donald Trump’s first secretary of state (albeit a short-lived one with a decidedly mixed record). And in a globalised world, multinationals can benefit from a “corporate foreign policy”, a term coined by Stephanie Hare and Timothy Fort in a paper from 2011, to align their values and priorities across markets.