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Direct Targeting as an NGO Political Strategy: Examining Private Authority Regimes in the Forestry Sector


  • Sasser Erika N.

    (Environmental Protection Agency)

  • Prakash Aseem

    (University of Washington, Seattle)

  • Cashore Benjamin

    (Yale University)

  • Auld Graeme

    (Yale University)


In recent years, International Political Economy literature on "politics beyond state" has emphasized the role of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in broader policy processes, both national and international. In addition to their impact on states, NGOs influence the policies of non-state actors such as firms via public and private politics. Dissatisfied with the progress firms have made in response to public regulation, NGOs have sponsored private authority regimes in several issue areas and pushed firms to participate in them. Across the world, the contest between NGOs and firms has provoked substantial behavioral and programmatic changeincluding widespread participation in these private authority regimesamong firms seeking to escape NGO pressures. Using firm-level data, this paper examines why direct targeting has not led firms in the U.S. forest products sector to participate in an NGO-sponsored private authority regime, the Forest Stewardship Council. This global regime has been adopted widely in Europe, but U.S.-based forestry firms have tended to favor a domestic industry-sponsored regime, the Sustainable Forestry Initiative. Our analysis suggests that the desire of firms to maintain control over their institutional environment in light of hostile relations with NGOs has led US-based firms to favor the Sustainable Forestry Initiative.

Suggested Citation

  • Sasser Erika N. & Prakash Aseem & Cashore Benjamin & Auld Graeme, 2006. "Direct Targeting as an NGO Political Strategy: Examining Private Authority Regimes in the Forestry Sector," Business and Politics, De Gruyter, vol. 8(3), pages 1-34, December.
  • Handle: RePEc:bpj:buspol:v:8:y:2006:i:3:n:1

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Erica Johnson & Aseem Prakash, 2007. "NGO research program: a collective action perspective," Policy Sciences, Springer;Society of Policy Sciences, vol. 40(3), pages 221-240, September.
    2. Godar, Javier & Persson, U. Martin & Tizado, E. Jorge & Meyfroidt, Patrick, 2015. "Towards more accurate and policy relevant footprint analyses: Tracing fine-scale socio-environmental impacts of production to consumption," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 112(C), pages 25-35.
    3. Baron, David P., 2011. "Credence attributes, voluntary organizations, and social pressure," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 95(11), pages 1331-1338.
    4. Andrea Prado & Arch Woodside, 2015. "Deepening Understanding of Certification Adoption and Non-Adoption of International-Supplier Ethical Standards," Journal of Business Ethics, Springer, vol. 132(1), pages 105-125, November.
    5. Weber, Norbert, 2012. "Reflections on theories in forest policy: Testing, combining or building?," Forest Policy and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 16(C), pages 102-108.
    6. Christopher Marquis & Michael W. Toffel & Yanhua Zhou, 2011. "Scrutiny, Norms, and Selective Disclosure: A Global Study of Greenwashing," Harvard Business School Working Papers 11-115, Harvard Business School, revised Jul 2015.
    7. Chris F. Wright, 2016. "Leveraging Reputational Risk: Sustainable Sourcing Campaigns for Improving Labour Standards in Production Networks," Journal of Business Ethics, Springer, vol. 137(1), pages 195-210, August.
    8. Luc Fransen, 2013. "The Embeddedness of Responsible Business Practice: Exploring the Interaction Between National-Institutional Environments and Corporate Social Responsibility," Journal of Business Ethics, Springer, vol. 115(2), pages 213-227, June.
    9. Stoll, Joshua S. & Johnson, Teresa R., 2015. "Under the banner of sustainability: The politics and prose of an emerging US federal seafood certification," Marine Policy, Elsevier, vol. 51(C), pages 415-422.
    10. Erin Marie Reid & Michael W. Toffel, 2008. "Responding to Public and Private Politics: Corporate Disclosure of Climate Change Strategies," Harvard Business School Working Papers 09-019, Harvard Business School, revised Jun 2009.

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