Ngo Research Program


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Ngo Research Program

  1. 1. NGO Research Program <ul><li>Collective action perspective </li></ul><ul><li>Theories from social movement and international political economy (political science) literatures—a largely macro perspective </li></ul><ul><li>Reason about NGOs as we reason about firms </li></ul><ul><ul><li>As purposeful organizations </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Draw on the non-profits literature </li></ul></ul><ul><li>The theories do not fit the focus very well </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Theories are macro and focus on the organization </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Theories tend to blend the positive and normative </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Should focus on interactions between NGOs and economic agents: What NGOs want and their strategies for getting it. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>The missing discipline is (micro)economics </li></ul>
  2. 2. Microeconomics perspective <ul><li>NGOs as rational and strategic actors </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Agents of social pressure—funded by and draw strength and influence from the public </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Preferences are different for those of firms—environment, redistribution, rights </li></ul><ul><li>Their business is eliciting change on the part of private economic actors </li></ul><ul><li>Engage in public and private politics </li></ul><ul><li>Most specialize—by issue (issues may be linked) </li></ul><ul><li>An issue is like an “industry” with suppliers (NGOs) and targets, consumers/public, donors </li></ul><ul><li>The institutional arena is public sentiment </li></ul>
  3. 3. Microeconomics perspective (cont.) <ul><li>NGOs as organizations choose their capabilities; e.g., science, litigation, advocacy, harassment </li></ul><ul><li>They differentiate their product. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Collaboration—Environmental Defense, Conservation International </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Confrontation—Greenpeace, RAN, Global Exchange </li></ul></ul><ul><li>There is matching—which NGOs work with/target which firms? </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Do collaborators have to have in-house expertise; e.g., science </li></ul></ul><ul><li>They compete in markets </li></ul><ul><ul><li>For resources—funds, employees, members, volunteers </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>For influence </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>For public credibility (the extent to which the public believes their advocacy/claims) </li></ul></ul><ul><li>There are successes and failures </li></ul><ul><li>An industrial organization of activism </li></ul>
  4. 4. Research questions <ul><li>What do they really want (objectives, goals)? </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Is it economic efficiency? E.g., addressing negative externalities? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Is it redistribution? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Is it a change in how resources are allocated? </li></ul></ul><ul><li>How are they organized? </li></ul><ul><li>How do they raise funds and manage donor relations? </li></ul><ul><li>How does matching of NGOs and economic agents work? </li></ul><ul><ul><li>How are targets and collaborators selected? </li></ul></ul><ul><li>How efficient and effective are they? Which strategies are most effective and in which circumstances? </li></ul><ul><li>Why are they effective; i.e., why do firms change their behavior? Are firms really vulnerable? Will the public act given collective action problems? </li></ul><ul><li>Why does the public view NGO advocacy as credible and business advocacy with skepticism? Because of their objectives? </li></ul>
  5. 5. NGOs as managed organizations <ul><li>What are the boundaries of the organization </li></ul><ul><ul><li>For what do they contract </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>For what do they enlist volunteers; e.g., unions eliciting college students </li></ul></ul><ul><li>What capabilities do they maintain inside the organization: scientific, legal, lobbying, climbing buildings </li></ul><ul><li>Internal organization, leadership, and agency relationships </li></ul><ul><li>What resources do they attract and how do they attract them </li></ul><ul><li>Performance—what do they accomplish with their resources? </li></ul><ul><ul><li>What is the return (financial and reputational) from a successful campaign? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Which organizations thrive, survive, and fail and why? </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Governance structures and accountability (to whom?) </li></ul><ul><li>Carriers of reputations </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Greenpeace and RAN have reputations that discourage collaboration </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>CI and ED have reputations and expertise that attract collaborators </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>How is credibility enhanced or diminished? </li></ul></ul>
  6. 6. Strategies <ul><li>Mix of public and private politics strategies </li></ul><ul><li>Target firms rather than citizens or governments </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Little emphasis on educating the public </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Many have abandoned trying to influence governments </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Mix of campaigns—corporate and market </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Developing leverage; e.g., in socially-conscious markets </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Get others to carry your water </li></ul><ul><ul><li>NGOs attack international banks; banks seek to avoid heat and obtain cover by forming the Equator Principles; lead organizing banks recruit other banks </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Use of the media </li></ul><ul><ul><li>To increase pressure </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>To build own reputation </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Leverage through partnering/alliances/networks </li></ul>
  7. 7. Anatomy of a campaign <ul><li>Campaign goals </li></ul><ul><li>Strategy and tactics </li></ul><ul><ul><li>What do they do and when do they do it? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Use of the media </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Pressure and coercion </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>How far to go; e.g., harass a CEO? Break the law? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Alliances </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Target responses </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Proactive </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Reactive; e.g., fighting </li></ul></ul><ul><li>When to give up and redirect the campaign </li></ul><ul><li>How resolutions are reached </li></ul><ul><li>How outcomes are governed </li></ul>
  8. 8. Anatomy of collaboration <ul><li>Who initiated an effort at collaboration? </li></ul><ul><li>Who accepted and rejected an invitation and why? </li></ul><ul><li>Was, and if so why was, trust present at the beginning? At the end? </li></ul><ul><li>How was the collaboration organized? </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Was there a common understanding? A formal agreement? </li></ul></ul><ul><li>What was the outcome? What were the costs and benefits? What was learned? </li></ul><ul><li>Did the collaboration lead to follow-up collaborations? </li></ul><ul><ul><li>NRDC and Dow Chemical </li></ul></ul>
  9. 9. What are the consequences? <ul><li>Of campaigns and collaboration </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Changes in firm behavior/no changes </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>costs and benefits </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>NGO: externalities and redistribution </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Firm: sales and profits; i.e., did consumers or the stock market reward the changed behavior? Was a target penalized for not changing? </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Agreements and governance arrangements </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>monitoring and compliance </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>dealing with unanticipated events </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><li>Induced (forestalling) behavior (in advance of targeting) </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Seeking cover—SFI </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Embracing CSR </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Self-regulation </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Reputation management </li></ul></ul><ul><li>How effective is the induced (forestalling) behavior in deterring a campaign or social pressure? </li></ul>
  10. 10. What are the problems of NGOs? <ul><li>An inability to commit; e.g., does a timber firm want to get into bed with the NGOs sponsoring FSC? </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Oneself—not to act opportunistically </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Others—that may target collaborators; e.g., FLA & WRC </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Are they coercive? Is coercion outside the institutions of government acceptable? What are the limits? </li></ul><ul><li>Conducting affairs through the media and in the absence of a deliberative consideration of the matter </li></ul><ul><li>Are they punished by the media and the public for their mistakes, inaccuracies, and exaggerations? </li></ul><ul><li>Can they handle monitoring and compliance? </li></ul><ul><li>Accountability to whom and for what? </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Should there be regulation? SOx </li></ul></ul>
  11. 11. Research approaches <ul><li>Normative (public economics)—which can provide a public good most efficiently </li></ul><ul><ul><li>government </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>firms </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>not-for-profits and NGOs </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Positive </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Why the ascendancy of NGOs? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Why have NGOs turned to private politics rather than public politics? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Understanding campaign and collaboration strategies </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Can the locus of campaigns and collaborations be predicted? Matches? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Consequences? </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Empirical </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Case studies </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Databases </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Comparative—across countries/societies/cultures </li></ul>
  12. 12. Example: Private Politics Campaign <ul><li>Four year campaign by the Rainforest Action Network (RAN) against Citigroup regarding project finance </li></ul><ul><li>Citigroup weakened by a series of major scandals </li></ul><ul><li>In June 2003 Citigroup and 3 other banks (also under pressure) announced the Equator Principles for project finance—to protect ecosystems </li></ul><ul><li>RAN (and other NGOs) praised the EP but stated that the loopholes were big enough to “drive a bulldozer through” </li></ul><ul><li>After 8 months of negotiations with RAN, Citigroup adopted a new policy going considerably beyond the Equator Principles; e.g., identified “High Caution Zones;” covered general corporate loans; no minimum project size; investments in sustainable development; supporting FSC certified forest products in emerging markets; no illegal logging </li></ul><ul><li>RAN sought and Citigroup refused public enforcement </li></ul><ul><ul><li>A signed contract </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Board approval of the agreement </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Citigroup and RAN developed (evolving) monitoring mechanisms </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Citigroup quarterly shows confidential lending data to RAN </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Plus a “no surprises” agreement </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Enforcement limited to resuming the campaign </li></ul>
  13. 13. Example—Fair Labor Association <ul><li>Participation (bargaining) </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Participants—Apparel and footwear firms and NGOs </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Non-participants—unions and their allies </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Representation (on board) </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Participants plus licensors </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Legislation; e.g., revisions of code </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Supermajority of board </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Regulation </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Promulgation of rules </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Information generation </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Self-reporting—to FLA </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Independent inspections </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Enforcement </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Board directives—comply with rules </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Public disclosure—release of inspection reports by majority rule </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Judiciary—hear and resolve complaints and disputes </li></ul>