Aldo Ferrer

Rebuilding Egypt: How companies can fill the vacuum of trust

February 25, 2011: 8:55 AM ET

Business leaders working in the Middle East should not stand by the sidelines or hop on the next flight out. They should act to rebuild trust, wherever and whenever it is possible.

By Tarun Khanna, contributor

The unfolding protest movements in Egypt and across the Middle East have generated a dizzying mix

Egyptian protesters at a rally after Friday prayers in Tahrir Square

of joy, fear, and uncertainty throughout the world, leaving many in the business community involved in the region -- including many of my students -- confused and unsure over how to respond. How do they protect their employees as well as their bottom lines? And, in Egypt's case in particular, how can they contribute to the reconstruction process?

While the region has suffered from significant economic distress, it has been relatively contained compared to the fallout of some corporate crises in emerging markets in the not so distant past; consider the Asian financial crisis of the late 1990s and the Argentine meltdown of a decade or so ago.

The Korean stock exchange reached its nadir on the last day of December 1997, and was followed by Thailand in late August 1998, and Malaysia and Indonesia in late September 1998. These low points represented a good 70-90% drop from the preceding years. Argentina's low point was in mid 2002, and it represented a close to two-thirds drop. More

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