NGOs, Activism and Sustainability

Frank G.A. de Bakker, Frank den Hond

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterProfessional


In this chapter, we examine the role of NGO activism as a driver of sustainability. Such activism offers opportunities and poses challenges to firms; examining the role of activism is important to appreciate the broader question of what makes businesses more sustainable and more socially responsible. We provide an overview of what activist NGOs are and explore ways by which they seek to influence corporate policies, ranging from collaboration and partnerships to contestation and protest. We then discuss which firms are more likely to encounter NGO activism as not all firms are equally susceptible to NGO activism. Firm size, industry and visibility to consumers are important elements, as well as their historical record on CSR and sustainability issues. Finally, we discuss how firms may respond to NGO activism. For a firm to take responsibility implies that it moves beyond the defence of its own economic interests, to consider the questions of what kind of corporation the firm wishes to be, what role in society it aspires to fulfil and how to relate to its various stakeholders. Ultimately, these are questions of ethics.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationCorporate Sustainability : Managing Responsible Business in a Globalised World
EditorsAndreas Rasche, Mette Morsing, Jeremy Moon, Arno Kourula
Place of PublicationCambridge
PublisherCambridge University Press
Publication date2023
ISBN (Print)978-1-009-10040-3, 978-1-009-11492-9
ISBN (Electronic)978-1-009-11864-4
Publication statusPublished - 2023
MoE publication typeD2 Article in a professional reserarch book (incl. editor's introduction, manuals, guides)


  • 512 Business and Management
  • activism
  • NGO
  • stakeholder
  • tactics

Areas of Strength and Areas of High Potential (AoS and AoHP)

  • AoS: Responsible organising

Cite this