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I.   Civil
society campaigning is a key player in shaping business practices

 If well-organized, civil society campaigning appears
to be the most effective way for consumers to promote responsible corporate behaviour,
by directly reaching firms but also, or indirectly through firm’s

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The more organized, the more
effective `

Corporate Social
Responsibility is best represented in a “collective engagement” of civil
society actors (May).

It is crucial to
recognize the variety of forms members of the civil society take on, they can
be organised and unorganised groups
(World Economic Forum) as this
will determine their effectiveness in promoting sustainable business practices.

The civil society literature distinguishes two major forms of voluntary
associations: Social Movements and NGO’s. Social movements might be unorganized
groups; their influence is still important in global issues. For example, labour
activists and workers united their power against one of the world’s most
powerful brands, Nike. After leading a high-profile media campaign against their
poor labour practices, they succeeded to force Nike to improve/transform/update
their ethical game.5(Birch) However,
social movements fail at gaining support from corporates and society, as their
campaigning strategies may come across as extreme and radical (reference). Therefore, NGO’s appear to be the
most effective form of civil society groupings as they have as organized structure,
most trusted institution globally


and are considered
in the society.  Comble le trust deficit

In the realm of environmental and sustainable governance, NGOs are the
key players and therefore comprise the main focus of this essay.


The diverse strategies of the civil society to influence
firms directly

Civil society can collectively express a grievance by signing petitions.

living in the Golden age of the Internet takes civil society players’ participation
to new levels: the e-participation (Sreejith,
Transforming Gov). However, the defining activity of
campaigning voluntary group is organising protests and demonstrations can also use more effective ways such
as direct action as a campaigning tool (Purdue).

Can truly help citizens
to make their disapproval heard.  object lesson in how giant
corporations can be brought to account by ordinary consumers.


Another strategy used by the civil society is partnering with corporate actors. The figure below illustrates what the political
activist Jim Wallis means by saying that “Civil society is making other sectors work,
leveraging their capabilities and enabling solutions”.  (Jim Wallis,
Sojourners National Christian Organization)   Whereas few decades ago, civil society was regarded as an independent and/or opposition force to the corporate world, more
and more civil society groups are today involved in partnership with firms. If the degree of interaction between government, corporate
world and civil society was quite limited in the past, it seems to have now
dramatically increased. This strategy is very
effective to the extent that, on one side, it will allow firms to become more
accountable to the public whereas, on the other side, NGO’s will gain more
recognition, more financial resources and will become active actors in the
decision-making process. In other words, by collaborating directly with them,
NGO’s will have the power to significantly influence the long-term
sustainability of their business. (Baur and Schmitz)4 For some scholars, abandoning the
frontier between profit and non-profit sector even appears like the only way to
effectively address social and environmental concerns to firms. (Edwards, 2008)3


1.     Another
stratg to promote sustainability: reach intermediaries (indirectly influence



Provide education on environmental
issues: reporting

Acting as a big, official
and very well organized group seems to be a very effective way to have an
impact on business practices.  Acting a






II. Constraints
preventing civil society campaigning from realizing its full potential and its


Constraints from the NGO’s

The first challenge limiting the of civil
society are the different sources and levels of funding for civil society
stakeholders. Many NGO Managers face a lack of funds, that may be due to insufficient
resource mobilization skills (Viravaidya and
Haysssen)6. Moreover, limited financial resources can lead to another
negative consequence: the increase of NGO’s vulnerability for corporate
sponsoring, which then might induce co-optation. (Warwick Econ Forum) This threat leads to the second challenge:
NGO Trust Crisis. According to the most recent Edelman Trust Barometer, in 2017,
most participants of the study affirmed not believing anymore in all four
governance institution (Edelman,
2017). The
contrast with the situation in 2012 is not surprising since/as NGO’s are increasingly the target of
criticism for their close association with corporations, that compromises NGO’s
autonomy and transparency. This was the case of the general Director of Nestlé
who was highly criticized for joining the Executive Board of the NGO Swiss
Interchurch Aid. Activists did not see this association as a collaboration but rather
as an “institutional incompability” between Nestlé and the NGO. Therefore, to
regain the trust of citizen in order to recover their degree of effectiveness,
it is crucial for NGO’S to not cross the boundary between “Critical cooperation”
and “Co-optation” can be indeed blurry.


Constraints from hosting countries’

influence of civil society groupings also depends on the hosting country and its
political, social, and legal environment. Accordingly, the level of uncertainty
of these driving forces will determine the level of effectiveness. The World
Economic Forum ranks political situation and stability as the most critical
driving factor that is the most uncertain for the coming years. (reference???) Since geopolitical stability “enables
the smooth movement of goods, people and ideas”, geopolitical conflict will appear
as a significant obstacle to Ngo and other civil society groups actions. Campaigning
in such countries will be threatened by security concerns. (reference) Other factors need to be considered such as the rules and regulations.

Finally, depending on the culture of the hosting country society, the influence
can vary.


How many corporation
actually alter their business practices? 
Some disappointing campaigning results

Finally, civil
society campaigning is not fully efficient in the sense that it does not always
manage to completely alter corporate behaviours. Examining the managerial
responses to NGO and other groups campaign reveals that there answers from the
firm is not always positive. Come to the conclusion that campaigns may bring
policy change and public awareness, albeit not the changes.

Now, considering
the companies practices NGO believe to have successfully altered: some of them
can only be temporary or even fake changes. Corporations might indeed make
false Corporate Social Responsibility promises in order to avoid NGO and other
voluntary associations pressure. The most relevant example would be the Volkswagen
Emission scandal in 2015. It is alarming to see how one of the giants in the
automative industry was promoting in high-profile marketing campaigns its supposedly
environmentally friendly cars, meanwhile the firm was poisoning the planet. (Enrique Dans) This rejection of any ethical
standard illustrates how CSR business practices changes can be superfluous.


the limits previously presented, the degree of effectiveness of civil society
campaigning is not as important as we thought. Combining these group-based strategies
operating on a global level with ethical actions made on an individual and local level could be a solution. 

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