Introduction to the Special Issue on “Social Movements and Private Environmental Governance”

[We’re pleased to welcome author Thomas P. Lyon of the University of Michigan. He recently published an article in Organization & Environment entitled “Introduction to the Special Issue on ‘Social Movements and Private Environmental Governance’,” which is currently free to read for a limited time. Below, Dr. Lyons reflects on the research published in this issue:]

What motivated you to pursue this research?

From a practical perspective, private environmental governance is of crucial importance to solving pressing environmental problems. Laws like the Clean Air Act and the Clean Water Act produced enormous benefits, but in recent years political gridlock has often blocked further progress. The failure of the US Congress to address climate change is the most egregious example. As a result, attention has shifted to what can be accomplished by social movements and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) working directly with business.

From an intellectual perspective, the study of social movements and private environmental governance is a rich area of inquiry, but one that is being pursued in intellectual “siloes” in economics, political science, sociology, management, and law. There is a need for true interdisciplinary research bringing together the insights from these disparate research fields.

In what ways is your research innovative, and how do you think it will impact the field?

The papers in this Special Issue represent a bold attempt to bridge the gaps between disciplines and spark new research that combines their insights. They emerged from a workshop I organized in May, 2016, with financial and logistical support from the University of Michigan’s Erb Institute for Global Sustainable Enterprise. Its purpose was to help build an international, interdisciplinary research community interested in social movements, NGO activism, private governance, and information disclosure.

Of the five papers in the Special Issue, two were papers I commissioned from specific authors. I asked Anthony Heyes and Brayden King—leading scholars in economics and sociology, respectively—to collaborate on a survey of research frontiers in the organization of environmental activism. Seldom do economists and sociologists write together, but these two produced a first-rate paper that I believe will shape the next generation of research in this area.

I also asked Graham Bullock and Hamish van der Ven—two exciting young political scientists–to collaborate on a paper about the role of consumers in ratings, certifications and eco-labels. Both have new books on information disclosure programs, and I felt that a paper combining their insights on the role of consumers would be of broad interest. They graciously accepted the challenge and produced a first-rate paper that reconciles paradoxical findings in the literature and offers a pathway forward for future research.

What advice would you give to new scholars and incoming researchers in this particular field of study?

Read the papers in the Special Issue! Although much has been learned about private environmental governance, much remains to be understood. Many of the most interesting questions lie at the boundaries between disciplines. Answering them will require a new generation of interdisciplinary research that builds on existing insights and fills in the many gaps that remain. Finally, as President of the Alliance for Research on Corporate Sustainability (ARCS), I encourage interested researchers to join ARCS! Our annual conference, held each year in late spring, gets great papers and provides tough but constructive feedback in a friendly atmosphere.

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Evaluating Social Marketing Campaigns

[We’re pleased to welcome author Diogo Veríssimo of Johns Hopkins University. He recently published an article in Social Marketing Quarterly entitled “Does It Work for Biodiversity? Experiences and Challenges in the Evaluation of Social Marketing Campaigns,” which is currently free to read for a limited time. Below, Dr. Veríssimo provides insight on impact evaluation and behaviour change:]

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Measuring change is hard. But it is also critical to programs hoping to influence human behaviour towards more positive societal outcomes. In a newly published paper, Does It Work for Biodiversity? Experiences and Challenges in the Evaluation of Social Marketing Campaigns, we tackle the challenge of evaluating social marketing campaigns targeting fishing communities in the Philippines with the goal of driving the adoption of more sustainable fishing practices at the community level.

Research on impact evaluation is vital to improve implementation, particularly in high uncertainty high complexity environment such as those in which social marketing operates. By measuring our impact we can first ensure we do no harm and then learn what works, to improve with each iteration. This is even more pressing in the environmental context, as we have lagged far behind sectors such as public health or international development in impact evaluation. Therefore, our goal with this paper was to showcase how we can raise the bar on the evaluation of behaviour change efforts, in this case social marketing, in a particularly changing subject, that of fisheries management in the tropics.

Our work focused on the evaluation of three social marketing campaigns in the Philippines, using a quasi-experiments design of match campaign and control sites. We measured both social indicators through surveys and biological indicators using underwater ecological surveys. We found limited evidence of behaviour change amongst fisherman and no evidence of change in fish biomass as a result of the campaigns. Yet, we also discussed the fact that this last result is fully expected, given how long fisheries take to recover, a timeline often measured in decades, not years. This has implications not only for the way that we plan and implement social marketing campaigns but also for donors who should be aware that expecting biological change in the often short project cycles may just be unrealistic.

Moreover, our research hopes to highlight the difficulties of carrying out competent impact evaluations in a context where both social and biological indicators need to be measured and where both terrestrial and in-water data is needed. This has obvious implications in terms of cost, not only in terms of money, time and staff but also in terms of required technical expertise. Project budgets need to reflect this reality if we are to be truly evidence-based and take responsibility for the interventions we implement. After all it is not about success and failure, it should most of all be about learning.

The Warm Glow of Restaurant Checkout Charity: Do You Participate?

5390059375_4cb242cbbc_z.jpgIt’s often seen and experienced that retail stores, restaurants, and supermarkets ask for a donation to the cause of the season when you checkout. How often do you donate and agree to that $1-$5 on the pin pad? If you do donate, do you feel like an avid supporter of both the store you’re shopping at and the featured charity? Researchers and authors Michael Giebelhausen, Benjamin Lawrence, HaeEun Helen Chun, and Liwu Hsu go so far as to say people feel a “warm glow” when agreeing to donate on a whim.

They recently published an article in Cornell Hospitality Quarterly entitled, “The Warm Glow of Restaurant Checkout Charity,” which is currently free to read for a limited time. The abstract for this article is below:

Checkout charity is a phenomenon whereby frontline employees (or self-service technologies) solicit charitable donations from customers during the payment process. Despite its growing ubiquity, little is known about this salient aspect of the service experience. The present research examines checkout charity in the context of fast-food restaurants and finds that, when customers donate, they experience a “warm glow” that mediates a relationship between donating and store repatronage. Study 1 utilizes three scenario-based experiments to explore the phenomenon across different charities and different participant populations using both self-selection and random assignment designs. Study 2 replicates with a field study. Study 3 examines national store–level sales data from a fast-food chain and finds that checkout fund-raising, as a percentage of sales, predicts store revenue—a finding consistent with results of Studies 1 and 2. Managers often infer, quite correctly, that many consumers do not like being asked to donate. Paradoxically, our results suggest this ostensibly negative experience can increase service repatronage. For academics, these results add to a growing body of literature refuting the notion that small prosocial acts affect behavior by altering an individual’s self-concept.

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Donation box photo attributed to Zhu (CC).

 

Call for Papers: The Journal of Applied Behavioral Science


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The Journal of Applied Behavioral Science is currently receiving manuscripts through this manuscript submission portal.

With diverse audiences in mind, The Journal of Applied Behavioral Sciences publishes a variety of material designed to help individuals and organizations promote positive, successful change. The specific goals of the journal are to:

  • Present a range of conceptual frameworks that explain, predict, and illuminate the implications of action
  • Describe social inventions, intervention techniques, consultation activities, emergent innovations, and educational practices
  • Employ the full range of social science
  • Examine underlying values, assumptions, biases, and beliefs associated with various forms of change

Do you have a manuscript that best fits the aims & scope of JABS? Click here to view the full submission guidelines and submit your manuscript today!

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Customer misbehaviour in the collaborative economy: Is it contagious or not?

Co-authors Tobias Schaefers, Kristina Wittkowski, Sabine Benoit, and Rosellina Ferraro recently published an article in the Journal of Service Research entitled “Contagious Effects of Customer Misbehavior in Access-Based Services.” Below is their informational video as a supplement to their article, which helps analyze how connections to a person’s community can influence behavior in the given shared space.

 

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Albert Dunlap Style Likability: Those Who Seek Flattery Get Enemies

[The following post is re-blogged from Organizational Musings. Click here to view the original article. It is a commentary based on a recently published article in Administrative Science Quarterly entitled “Those Closest Wield the Sharpest Knife: How Ingratiation Leads to Resentment and Social Undermining of the CEO,” co-authored by Gareth D. Keeves, James D. Westphal, and Michael L. McDonald. From Organizational Musings:] 

I will start this post with an old story. CEO of Sunbeam Corp., Albert Dunlap, known as an expert in turning around troubled firms and selling them for a profit, was sued by the SEC in 2001 for accounting fraud. He was eventually barred from serving as an officer or director in any company, plus ordered to pay investors defrauded money in a class-action lawsuit.  Albert Dunlap was clearly someone in need of flattery, not just money, as he had the classical flattery-sickness symptom of a book written to celebrate his successes (see also his picture!). How he managed things internally in each firm he led is disputed, but much was said about his intimidation of other managers, who probably would conclude that a lot of flattery and ingratiation might help their career. Of course, managers still did better than employees, because his signature move in turning firms around was mass layoffs.

An interesting detail of his downfall was that managers around him were quick to release information that helped the investigation, which is distinct from the many firms with management teams that do all they can to deter and obstruct investigators. Is there a systematic reason for this difference? Possibly. A recent article in Administrative Science Quarterly by Gareth Keeves, James Westphal, and Michael McDonald looks at what happens when managers ingratiate their CEO through flattery and other tools. Their findings are interesting. First, managers who flatter lose their liking of the CEO. Somehow when people artificially put others on a pedestal they also start looking down on them.

Second, managers who flatter may go on to undermine the CEO. The light-handed version of this is to undermine the CEO’s messages to journalists, as this research showed. The heavy-handed version is what happened to Albert Dunlap. Among other events, his comptroller reported that he had been pushing for accounting practices that crossed the legal boundary, and sales people were quick to report “channel stuffing.” Channel stuffing is to sell too many goods and selling them too early, which is not illegal in itself (the sales channel can return unsold goods, so it is safe for them), but it is illegal when the sales are accounted as if they were final.  Those were practices that the SEC (and some investors) suspected, and that meant that what looked like a turnaround in sales and profits was actually a fraudulent scheme.

Seeking flattery is never thought of as a good thing. What we now know is that it also triggers undermining, and for those who have real weaknesses – like a CEO engaged in fraud – that undermining can be very consequential.

Book Review: The Globalization of Inequality

The Globalization of Inequality. By François Bourguignon . Translated by Thomas Scott-Railton . Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2015. 224 pp. ISBN 978-0691160528, $27.95 (Cloth).

Gary Fields of Cornell University recently wrote a book review in ILR Review for The Globalization of Inequality. An excerpt from the book review:

In this book, he [François Bourguignon] has produced a concise and nontechnical masterpiece of exceptional analytical and policy clarity. His professional expertise and policy involvement shine through in every chapter. Although the book is written for concerned global citizens, professional economists and other social scientists can learn much from reading it.

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Bourguignon begins by posing some provocative questions. Is globalization responsible for rising inequality in the world? Does this represent the death knell for equality? If it continues, will the quest for social justice be squelched?

His analysis makes a crucial distinction between three types of inequality in standards of living: inequality between countries, inequality within countries, and inequality among the world’s people. It is the last of these—what he terms “global inequality”—that is his primary concern and is at the heart of the book.

You can read the full review from ILR Review by clicking here. Like what you read? Click here to sign up for e-alerts and have all the research and reviews like this sent directly to your inbox!