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Shadow Trades

Shadow Trades
The Dark Side of Global Business

December 2020 | 296 pages | SAGE Publications Ltd
Alongside burgeoning global business, which asserts its legality, ethics and social responsibility, there exists a dark side of shadow trades manifesting various shades of legitimacy.  Not only do the latter’s corrupt practices, dubious supply chains and other illicit operations run in tandem with global business, these borderless trades intersect with economic structures and contribute to systems adopted by corporations, endorsed by neoliberal capitalism, that are often condoned by governments and unwittingly sustained by consumers.  In a very real sense, all of us may be implicated in shadow trades through our work, consumption and citizenship.  

Even before we can begin to confront and constrain shadow trades, their business models first need to be identified and analysed in all their networked complexity, interconnectivity with global business and embeddedness within the world economy.  Numerous hard questions need to be raised around enabling circumstances and responsibilities of stakeholders, as well as the winners and losers resulting from business globalisation and socio-economic inequities within and between countries.  

Providing background, evidence and analysis on select exemplars of shadow trades, this book provides graduate students of business, plus scholars in the social sciences, together with practitioners and policymakers, consumer groups and civil society, with an indispensable resource for critical engagement.  Only through knowledge gained by research and advocacy for transparency can we begin to shed light on this dark side of global business, enabling all of us to grapple with activism against and collaborative action towards undermining all shadow trades.  

Amos Owen Thomas was a Docent / Reader in Marketing and International Business at Stockholm University until his recent retirement
Chapter 1: Charting the Borderless
Chapter 2: Darkness Enlightened
Chapter 3: Irregular Migration & Labour Exploitation
Chapter 4: Transplant Tourism & Organs Acquisition
Chapter 5: Resource Pilferage & Environment Degradation
Chapter 6: Waste Transhipment & Hazardous Recycling
Chapter 7: Arms Conveyance & Military Contracting
Chapter 8: Financial Sleight & Money Laundering
Chapter 9: Tracking Cross-Currents
Chapter 10: Imperative of Engagement

Shadow Trades makes fascinating reading. We know the dark side of international business exists but perhaps understandably it is rarely examined objectively and analytically by academics or taught as part of university degree programmes. Dr. Thomas should be congratulated, therefore, not just for a clearly written, compelling text, but for the way he has researched and addressed this much neglected topic. The text contains a the wealth of information that will be of interest to practitioners, policy makers and all those concerned with social responsibility, as well as academics and students of international business.

David A. Kirby, Holder of The Queen's Award for Enterprise Promotion, UK. Former Vice President (Enterprise and Community Service), The British University in Egypt. Honorary Professor, Almaty Universi

This book, Shadow Trades is unlike any other book on business ethics. It belongs to class of its own in several ways. First it covers several ethical topics ranging from business, medicine, human trafficking, environment, hazardous recycling, military contracting and money laundering; all in the global landscape. Second, and perhaps even more important, the writing style and easy-to-follow narrative ensures that the book will engage students and the various audiences. Third, it is an intelligent, quietly provocative book touching upon, though tangentially, on controversial social-economic issues such as imperialism, capitalism and Marxian philosophy. Fourth and finally, the skilful use of language makes the book even more appealing to serious as well as leisure readers. 

Edward E. Marandu, Professor of Marketing, Faculty of Business University of Botswana

Shadow Trades is a must-read for all who are interested in gaining insights into the power and influence that access to finite, valuable resources benefits those who achieve it by any means available. Moreover, this book provides well-documented cases, including from recent Middle East history, of how various players, often foreign, take advantage of the woes that afflict developing countries to threaten lives and disrupt whole regions.

Nabil Sultan, Visiting Professor at SERVUS, Free University of Amsterdam. Formerly Dean, College of Business Administration, A'Sharqiyah University, Oman.

Shadow Trades could not come at a more opportune time - as we’re flooded with news of social and racial disparities brought to light by the pandemic, Mexico’s shelters overwhelmed by migrants hoping to cross the US border, mass school kidnappings in northern Nigeria, Indian farmers demonstrating against the new agriculture laws leaving them unprotected from the greedy private sector.

Shadow Trades goes a step further to reveal many dire causes and effects of neo-colonialism and call out for action.

Eye-opening, informative, a must-read for anyone who chooses not to remain ignorant, “Shadow Trades” is looking to convince us to get involved, and to persuade the government and corporations to take meaningful action and place the protection of human rights above profit. It is unfortunate that we still need this training in our humanity, and while this level of clarity can be shocking, it is perhaps necessary.

Maria Yannakea, Stockholm Business School; Marketing Operations Manager, CBS Interactive, USA

Despite an increased focus on CSR and business ethics, shadow trades are thriving underneath the legitimate surface of global business. Human trafficking, resource pilfering and money laundering co-exist alongside seemingly legitimate trades, often benefiting from a symbiotic relationship. Dr Thomas’ book examines the business models of shadow trades and the complex ways in which illicit activities underpin the global economy. The murky aspects of capitalism are rarely discussed in business ethics classes, which is why Shadow Trades is an important and timely contribution to management literature. Calling for transparency and action, Shadow Trades is an invitation to scholars, practitioners and consumers to disarm the dark side of international trade.

Robyn Belak, Stockholm Business School; Digital Marketing Manager, Stora Enso, Sweden

What a fantastic page turner! Whether you are an academic looking for sources about the topic or whether you are passionate about ethical business I highly recommend this book. If you are a business leader I especially recommend this read, it will challenge your company’s values and culture and start some healthy boardroom conversations.

I loved how Dr Thomas always had this ability of taking complex, multi-faceted topics and making them so simple and relatable to an academic, an executive keen on making a difference or an average consumer wanting to make informed, ethical choices.

I particularly liked how this book emphasises the role of investigative journalism to drive accountability to businesses, governments and help consumers make informed choices.

Maya Rigg, Maastricht School of Management; Chief Executive Officer, Elite Havens, Singapore

This book provides a great overview on illegal practices and issues of the current business environment, which are a result of the products and services we use in our everyday life. Topics such as labour exploitation, environment degradation and money laundering (and many more) are analysed and permit to gain critical knowledge on today's business practices.

I can recommend this book to everyone who is linked to the business world (students, lecturers, managers...) as it enables you to become critical towards common business practices and to recognise and understand the shadow trades behind those. Moreover, it can be a source of inspiration for further research in this mostly undiscussed area of today's business world.

Jonathan Ribeiro, Copenhagen Business School; Demand Activation Assistant, Mars, Germany

This is an excellent complimentary book to assist students studying the shift in global economic and the political machinations.

Dr Ciaran McAleenan
School of the Built Environment (Jordanstown Campus), Ulster University
September 21, 2021