A Dynamic Process Model of Private Politics: Activist Targeting and Corporate Receptivity to Social Challenges

Mary Hunter McDonnell*, Brayden G. King, Sarah A. Soule

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

85 Scopus citations

Abstract

This project explores whether and how corporations become more receptive to social activist challenges over time. Drawing from social movement theory, we suggest a dynamic process through which contentious interactions lead to increased receptivity. We argue that when firms are chronically targeted by social activists, they respond defensively by adopting strategic management devices that help them better manage social issues and demonstrate their normative appropriateness. These defensive devices have the incidental effect of empowering independent monitors and increasing corporate accountability, which in turn increase a firm’s receptivity to future activist challenges. We test our theory using a unique longitudinal dataset that tracks contentious attacks and the adoption of social management devices among a population of 300 large firms from 1993 to 2009.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)654-678
Number of pages25
JournalAmerican Sociological Review
Volume80
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Jun 9 2015

Keywords

  • corporate social responsibility
  • non-market strategy
  • organization theory
  • social movements

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science

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