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Civil Society NGOs & Private Sector Com-panies: Towards Cooperation?

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  1. Background: the new role of civil society
    1. The unique challenges of the new millennium call for a unique answer
    2. The 'cosmopolitan paradigm': the end of the state and the rise of NGOs
  2. A theory of NGOs: expertise / reputation serving activism
    1. What are NGOs' strategies against transnational corporations?
    2. Against powerful multinational firms, what are NGOs assets?
  3. Analysis: raising the environmental Issue
    1. Round one: NGOs' strategy focuses on publicly confronting business
    2. Thanks to their confrontation strategy, NGOs create a problem for firms, that must react
    3. Do corporations need to change and cooperate with NGOs to protect themselves?
  4. Analysis: going green
    1. Round two: corporations see the benefits of CSR and turn towards NGOs
    2. A new strategy: creating a demand for ''green'' by changing patterns of consumption

In 2005, DuPont, an American chemical company and Environmental Defense Fund (EDF), an environmental advocacy group, engaged in a partnership aiming at ensuring responsible development of a new high-tech domain, nanoscale materials. The project was also aimed at communicating with the global public to improve the general understanding of these new technologies. Because such a project required a broad range of expertise, the partnership brought together both organizations, as well as many other stakeholders such as government agencies, companies, interest groups and universities. In 2007, DuPont and EDF released a 'Nano Risk Framework' on responsible nanoscale materials that was then put to the test and subsequently presented to the wide political and industrial audiences. The framework proved very important because it helped to identify and reduce environmental, health and safety risks posed by this new, developing technology. Why did DuPont and EDF, so different organizations, partner? Basically, both organizations needed the other's expertise and resources. The partnership proved to be highly effective and enabled not only a responsible development of nanoscale materials but also the distribution of an efficient framework.

[...] One of the most powerful and visible manifestations of this new organized civil society is the importance of NGOs within intergovernmental organizations such as the United Nations. For instance, the 1992 Earth Summit organized in Rio de Janeiro by the U.N. gathered not only 172 governments, but also more than 1,400 NGOs (Demkine, 2000). The 2002 Earth Summit, at Johannesburg did not only gather even more NGOs, it also introduced a system of ?partnerships initiatives? between governments and NGOs, instead of the traditional agreements between governments alone. [...]


[...] Analysis & Discussion: Towards a New Strategy, Cooperation Round three: a strategy of cooperation emerged between NGOs and corporations The partnership, an arrangement whereby at least two organizations join their forces, allows pooling of organizational resources to accomplish a specific task? (Macdonald and Chrisp, 2005). Indeed, ?this approach is probably the most promising way to attack complex problems that call upon the skill, knowledge, and experience of a wide range of stake- holders in order to be successful and sustainable? (Dalberg, 2007). [...]


[...] The Coming Democracy: New Rules for Running a New World. Washington, DC: Island Press. - Fombrun, C.J. (1996). Reputation: Realizing Value from the Corporate Image. Boston, MA: Harvard Business School Press. - Fowler, A. (1992). ?Distant Obligations: Speculations on NGO Funding and the Global Market?. Review of African Political Economy, No pp. 29. - Fowler, A. (2000). Ties that Bind: Civic Development and the Importance of Trust'. Keynote for the Resource Alliance's Building Capacity for Sustainability International Conference, Nairobi, Kenya, 21- 24 November 2000. [...]

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