Bad company: Shifts in Social Activists’ Tactics and Resources after Industry Scandals
Organization Science (Forthcoming)
43 Pages Posted: 24 Jul 2017 Last revised: 16 Sep 2020
Date Written: September 15, 2020
Social Movement Organizations (SMOs) are increasingly using collaborative tactics to engage firms. Implications of this are not well understood by researchers. This study investigates one risk that looms over such collaborations: if the corporate partner is later implicated in an industry scandal. Ideas are investigated in the context of the Deepwater Horizon Oil spill. First, we find that industry scandals differentially affect contentious and collaborative SMOs' ability to mobilize resources. SMOs that had collaborated with the oil and gas industry before the spill suffered from reduced public support after the spill, while those that had contentiously interacted with the industry enjoyed increased contributions. Second, we find that industry scandals affect SMOs' willingness to collaborate with firms in the future. We show that the Horizon Oil Spill produced a broad chilling effect on environmental SMOs' collaborations with firms both within and outside of the oil and gas industry. Our findings show that there are risks inherent to a collaborative strategy which cannot be fully mitigated. Further, we demonstrate that industry scandals represent critical exogenous events that affect social activists' tactical repertoires for engaging in private politics.
Keywords: social movement organizations, cross-sector collaboration, crisis, stigma, reputation
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