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Direct Targeting as an NGO Political Strategy: Examining Private Authority Regimes in the Forestry Sector

  • Erika N. Sasser (a1), Aseem Prakash (a2), Benjamin Cashore (a3) and Graeme Auld (a3)

Abstract

In recent years, International Political Economy literature on “politics beyond state” has emphasized the role of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in broader policy processes, both national and international. In addition to their impact on states, NGOs influence the policies of non-state actors such as firms via public and private politics. Dissatisfied with the progress firms have made in response to public regulation, NGOs have sponsored private authority regimes in several issue areas and pushed firms to participate in them. Across the world, the contest between NGOs and firms has provoked substantial behavioral and programmatic change'including widespread participation in these private authority regimes'among firms seeking to escape NGO pressures. Using firm-level data, this paper examines why direct targeting has not led firms in the U.S. forest products sector to participate in an NGO-sponsored private authority regime, the Forest Stewardship Council. This global regime has been adopted widely in Europe, but U.S.-based forestry firms have tended to favor a domestic industry-sponsored regime, the Sustainable Forestry Initiative. Our analysis suggests that the desire of firms to maintain control over their institutional environment in light of hostile relations with NGOs has led US-based firms to favor the Sustainable Forestry Initiative.

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