Sir Antony Fisher Award Finalists: 2012

2012 Fisher Award Winner:

The Case for Business in Developing Economies, Ann Bernstein /Centre for Development and Enterprise, South Africa

In her book, Bernstein argues that business is increasingly being called upon to demonstrate “what more” it does for society in a climate in which companies are frequently painted as social outlaws. This ill-founded attack has been met, for the most part, by appeasement in corporate circles, giving rise to the burgeoning “corporate social responsibility” industry. Bernstein argues that instead of appeasing their critics, business should develop its own public agenda to promote the benefits of competitive capitalism for the less developed countries of the world.

According to the Centre, “the current conversation about business and society is dominated by the perspectives and interests of those who live in rich western countries. Many activists, analysts and others do not grasp the realities of poverty and the hard choices of development outside the industrialized world. As a result, the debate about business, “responsibility” and corporate involvement in development is distorted, with few voices from developing countries being heard and the positive contribution of “just doing business” almost completely unacknowledged.”

The Case for Business in Developing Economies has been praised by Martin Wolf of the Financial Times, who described it as a “call to arms”. He said Bernstein’s book is “the definitive answer to Naomi Klein’s hugely influential and hugely overrated No Logo”.

The Economist says the book: “demonstrates, beyond doubt, that companies, rather than governments or aid agencies, hold the key to prosperity in the developing world”.


Other finalists:

The Independent Review, Edited by Robert Higgs,  The Independent Institute, United States

Since its founding in the fall of 1996, this quarterly journal has featured articles, reviews and debates by many independent and classical liberal scholars and policy experts in economics, law, history, political science, philosophy and other fields. The Independent Review includes in depth examinations of current policy issues viewed in comprehensive and interdisciplinary, historical, ethical and economic perspectives.

The independent review is informative, wide ranging, well written and based on peer reviewed scholarship.  Articles in the journal are widely cited, indexed and abstracted in the academic world and form the basis of numerous features in both popular and specialized print and media.

In its sixteenth year of publication, the magazine has a core readership is around 5,000 but it ends up reaching many more people through resulting media coverage, new books, and the internet.  Some examples are that articles from the Review are downloaded from the Independent’s website at a rate of 26,000+ per month reaching a yearly figure of about 312,000 downloads. Recent media hits have appeared in media outlets such as the Wall Street Journal, New York Times, Christian Science Monitor, Los Angeles Times, San Francisco Examiner, NPR, NBC, ABC, Fox News, etc.

Sharper Axes, Lower Taxes. Big Steps to a Smaller State, Edited by Philip Booth, Institute of Economic Affairs, United Kingdom

The editor of this publication from the IEA, Professor Philip Booth, points out, crucial to its importance is the fact that it does far more than merely identify additional areas where the government can cut spending; it also sets out detailed reforms which would see both lower taxes and improved outcomes. As such, the book paints a picture of a free-market Britain that, when polled, the public supported by a large margin.

As Mark Littlewood, IEA’s Executive Director mentions “at a time when the media is dominated by a narrative of ‘savage cuts’, the book challenged the conventional wisdom and, more importantly, provided a detailed road map for liberal reform. As such, it fought – and continues to fight – a battle for free-market and free-society values.”

Daniel Hannan, Member of the European Parliament supported the project by saying “The IEA has put forward radical but achievable plans to simplify tax, incentivise work, end middle-class welfarism, boost growth and leave people with more disposable income. Don’t let anyone tell you that such policies are ‘unrealistic’.”

Social Map: Chile, Libertad y Desarrollo, Chile

For this book, a multidisciplinary team of renowned designers and economists worked together for two whole years to create engaging layouts that would be easy to understand. The content could be used as a basis for policy debates in the country and set the stage of future government reforms.

The information contained in the book was created by a team of professionals from Libertad y Desarrollo. They selected a group of established designers in Chile with international studies who volunteered to participate free of charge in this joint project. The objective was to show that statistical information can be offered in a clear way to the general public, so as to improve our understanding of our own society.

The book was launched in 2011 with presence of various Ministers of the current government and the book was sent to the Chilean President, Sebastian Piñera as well as other policymakers.  It was also sent to libraries around the country and LyD Executive Director presented the book through media appearances both in TV and print.

Taxpayer funding of trade unions, TaxPayers Alliance, United Kingdom

This ground-breaking research was first published in September 2010. It was published , with updated figures, on 25 November 2011, in the run  up to the country’s biggest strike since the 1930s, which saw 26 trade unions – and an estimated 3 million public sector workers across the country – go on strike.

Taxpayer funding of trade unions was the first and only publication to expose the use of taxpayers’ money to fund trade unions in the UK.  Their research found that:  Trade unions received £85.8 million from public sector organisations in 2009-10, 2,493 full time equivalent public sector employees worked for trade unions at taxpayers’ expense in 2009-10. The fully updated and enhanced version of this study found that this matter go worse with trade unions receiving £113 million from public sector organisations in 2010-11, the equivalent of 2,840 full time staff working on trade union  activities or duties at taxpayers’ expense.

As Matthew Elliot, the institute’s CEO, mentions “the research hit a particular nerve in Westminster, and it has become a matter of importance for the Prime Minister, the Cabinet Office, the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government and a swathe of other MPs.”

Such was the case that the Prime Minister, David Cameron, came out against Trade Union funding saying “I do not think full-time trade unionists working in the public sector on trade union business rather than serving the public is right, and we will put that to an end. That is absolutely the case, and the evidence today makes that case even stronger.”

The study was covered by some of the main media outlets in the country such as the Guardian, Daily Express, Sunday Telegraph among others. Their research is available online, giving the public, media and policy makers the ability to search for local data or search by organization.

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