Professor Graeme Auld has just had an article published in a special issue of Organization and Environment that focuses on social movements and private environmental governance. The issue, edited by Thomas Lyon, includes paper that examine the turn to private forms of environmental governance from several disciplinary perspectives.

Professor Auld’s paper focuses on NGO strategies, noting that most work identifies two basic types of strategies NGOs use to influence business behavior. NGOs either confront businesses using naming and shaming tactics and direct campaigns or they seek to cooperate with businesses to gain inside influence over business decisions. He suggests that there is a third type of strategy – termed prefiguration – where NGOs try to lead by example, creating alternative forms of market exchange as an alternate model to mass-market practices. He shows how an understanding of these three strategies provides new insights into the way private environmental governance has developed across cases in the natural resources and agriculture sectors.

Auld, G. (2020). Transforming Markets? Activists’ Strategic Orientations and Engagement With Private Governance. Organization & Environment, 33(1), 31–55.


Private governance regimes—instances where nonstate actors set rules that govern their behavior and/or the behavior of others—are increasingly common intermediaries between activists and corporations. Activists are often thought to drive corporations to participate in private governance. By participating, corporations hope to be shielded from activist pressures. Yet there are many instances where activists oppose particular private governance regimes, even ones that are seen as leaders in a sector. Why is this? This article contributes answers to this question by examining how activists’ different strategic orientations affect their perceptions of private governance. It unpacks three distinct ideal-type strategic orientations—prefiguration, targeting, and cooperation—activists may hold in their efforts to transform markets and the different forms of private governance each orientation will prefer. It then details how market entry conditions, sequencing and interactions, and feedbacks affect how activists are likely to engage the private governance regimes that develop in a given sector.