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Aligning Activist and Corporate Incentives

Social Movement Organizations embed activists within partnering corporations to help achieve environmental sustainability goals. Todd Schifeling and his co-author characterize the tension between support and ambiguity that corporations have around sustainability initiatives, and how activists overcome them.

Corporations with high support for initiatives provided resources for reform but had fixed opinions on issues and solutions, discouraging innovation. Those with high ambiguity were less constrained when developing solutions, but provided limited support needed to facilitate reform.

External resources, such as expert opinions and examples of reform from other organizations, helped encourage new perspectives and legitimize the initiative.

Activists are encouraged to consider the match between external resources and organizational context when advancing reforms.