Moralizing the Corporation

Moralizing the Corporation

Transnational Activism and Corporate Accountability

Boris Holzer

This insightful book examines how transnational corporations respond to the challenges of anti-corporate activism and political consumerism. In prominent cases involving major corporations such as Nestlé, Nike and Royal Dutch/Shell, transnational activists have successfully mobilized public opinion and consumers against alleged corporate misdemeanours. Campaigns and boycott calls can harm a corporation’s image but, as this book points out, public scrutiny also gives corporations the opportunity to present themselves as responsible and accountable corporate citizens who subscribe to the very norms and values propagated by the activists.

Preface and acknowledgements

Boris Holzer

Subjects: business and management, corporate social responsibility, organisation studies, public management, politics and public policy, public administration and management

Extract

When I set out to investigate conflicts between transnational corporations and transnational advocacy groups in the 1990s I soon realized that I would have to draw on various disciplines to deal with the topic. The role of transnational corporations in the world polity was debated by International Relations scholars, while transnational social movements attracted the attention of political sociologists and political scientists. The changing relationship between large business and society however was largely the domain of management scholars. Although the disciplines still have different approaches and interests, the interest in and amount of interdisciplinary work has grown. I am glad to have been able to participate in numerous discussions with colleagues from various backgrounds, and over the years many of them have read and commented on earlier versions of this book and its individual parts. My thanks for helpful hints and constructive criticism go to Ulrich Beck, Mark Boden, Magnus Boström, Frank de Bakker, Frank den Hond, Tim Forsyth, Maarten Hajer, André Kieserling, Mikael Klintman, John W. Meyer, Michele Micheletti, Harvey Molotch, Joan O’Mahony, Jim Ottaway and – last but not at all least – Leslie Sklair, without whose guidance the research that has ultimately led to this book would never have taken place. I would also like to thank the interviewees, on both the corporate and the activist side, who provided valuable insights and information. Funding for the initial research phase by the German Academic Exchange Fund (DAAD) is gratefully acknowledged. As usual none of the persons or institutions mentioned...