Activism: Help or Hindrance to Business?
Former Erb Institute | Business for Sustainability PostDoc, Jocelyn Leitzinger
Activists and industry
For many people, the combination of activists and industry brings to mind images of protestors chanting while marching with signs and banners in front of a company’s store, headquarters or production facility. For others, it suggests the maneuverings of shareholder activists—equity stakeholders using their investments to pressure a company’s management into some form of policy change.
What it might not evoke is visions of support, cooperation or collaboration.
Activism: Fertile ground for market entry
Despite the classic story of activists being at odds with corporations, the success of many of today’s modern industries and markets was predicated on these political and social change agents’ efforts. For example, in parts of the U.S., early support for wind energy came from environmental activists, who laid much of the groundwork to develop the regulatory structures and social acceptance needed to support renewable energy proliferation. The first voter-approved renewable portfolio standard (RPS)—which mandates a specified percentage of electricity production from renewable sources—passed in 2004 in Colorado, largely due to the efforts of environmental activist organizations and renewable energy enthusiasts. That law, Amendment 37, was instrumental in creating a market for wind energy in the state.
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