Branded!: How the 'Certification Revolution' is Transforming Global Corporations


Making responsible social and environmental choices has not always been a first priority for many corporations, but recent history has changed all that. Small but mighty nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), using twenty-first-century global communications, are nipping at the heels of corporations caught in unethical and irresponsible practices.

NGO “market campaigns” are moving these companies toward the higher standard now demanded by their clients, their consumers, and ...

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Making responsible social and environmental choices has not always been a first priority for many corporations, but recent history has changed all that. Small but mighty nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), using twenty-first-century global communications, are nipping at the heels of corporations caught in unethical and irresponsible practices.

NGO “market campaigns” are moving these companies toward the higher standard now demanded by their clients, their consumers, and society as a whole. The lever that moves these giants is the risk of destroying their carefully built “brands” if they fail to recognize their “moral liability” and clean up their practices.

Branded! outlines the ability of NGOs to affect corporate markets. It shows how the development of certification systems for corporate social and environmental practices has created some intriguing questions:

  • Why are retail giants paying premiums for ethically produced products . . . and not overcharging their customers?
  • How have NGOs gained such power and credibility?
  • What are the challenges of these new modes of corporate accountability for both NGOs and corporations?
  • What are the unexpected opportunities for newly accountable corporations?
Branded! is a must-read for corporate executives, NGOs, and ethically concerned consumers. It is rich with vignettes of firms, NGOs, campaigns, failures, successes, memorable personalities, and hard-fought battles.

Dr. Michael E. Conroy is an economist who taught for twenty-five years at the University of Texas. He has spent twelve years in various philanthropic positions in support of certification systems and serves on the boards of several key organizations in the certification field.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780865715790
  • Publisher: New Society Publishers
  • Publication date: 6/1/2007
  • Pages: 320
  • Product dimensions: 6.10 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

Michael Conroy is Program Officer for Global Governance for the Rockefeller Brothers Fund. Previously a Senior Lecturer and Senior Research Scholar at the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies, he was also Senior Program Officer at the Ford Foundation, and Professor of Economics at the University of Texas at Austin.
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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments     xi
Preface     xiii
Branded! The Unexpected Consequences of Successful Global Branding     1
Seemingly Improbable Corporate Events     2
From Branding to Branded!     6
The Basics of Certification Systems     10
A Corporate Cautionary Tale: The Story of Nike     11
Why Do Businesses Engage?     15
The Critical Three-Way Combination     17
Development Stages for Certification Systems     18
An NGO Cautionary Tale: The Story of Green Seal     19
The Voices of Fundamental Opposition     24
The Rest of the Book     25
Redefining Corporate Social and Environmental Accountability for the 21st Century     27
A Brief History of Corporate Social Responsibility     27
Critique of Corporate Social Responsibility     28
Re-specification of CSR for the 21st Century     30
Internet Instruments for Corporate Accountability: The Business and Human Rights Resource Centre     32
Rebuilding a Company Around Corporate Social Accountability...and Winning! The Marks & Spencer Story     35
Collaborative Governance and Capitalism 3.0     38
Leveraging the Brand: The Essence of Ethical Business Campaigns     43
Factors behind the Emergence of Market Campaigns     43
Promoting a Race to the Top     47
Speaking Truth to Power: Michael Marx and the Evolution of Corporate Market Campaigns     48
The Making of a Market Campaigner: Michael Brune of Rainforest Action Network     54
Market Campaigns in a Broader Context: The Power of NGOs     55
Reflections     59
Birth of It All: Transforming the Global Forest Products Industry     61
The Issues     61
Birth of the Forest Stewardship Council     63
Building Corporate Engagement     67
Richard Z. Donovan and the Rainforest Alliance SmartWood Program     68
Building Support for FSC Success: Bruce Cabarle and WWF-US     73
Results     79
FSC and the Amazon: Roberto S. Waack of Grupo Orsa     83
Institutional Maturation of the FSC     88
Building a Mature Global Forest Products Certification System: Heiko Liedeker of the FSC     92
Reflections     95
Tapping the Ethic of "Fairness": Certifying Global Commodity Trade     97
Basic Notions of Fair Trade (The Issues? Background?)     98
Certified Fair Trade     101
Building Fair Trade into Corporate Culture: Bob Stiller of Green Mountain Coffee Roasters      104
Certified Fair Trade in the US     107
Results     111
Paul Rice and TransFair USA: An NGO that "Works at the Speed of Business"     112
Taking Fair Trade to the Consumer: The Wild Oats Story     116
Reflections     117
Even the Banks Can Do It! New Accountability in Global Finance     121
The Issues     122
Campaigns and Results     127
Bringing "Charismatic Commitment" to the World Bank Group: Rachel Kyte     133
Caught in the Cross-Hairs, Responding with Flair: Pamela Flaherty of Citigroup     140
Reflections     143
Pioneers in the Implementation of the New Banking Standards: Matt Arnold and Sustainable Finance Ltd.     144
Can Tourism Be Tamed? Toward a Sustainable Tourism Stewardship Council     149
The Issues     150
Certification in the Tourism Sector     154
Building the Ethic of Sustainable Ecotourism: Martha Honey of the International Ecotourism Society and the Center for Ecotourism and Sustainable Development     156
Certified Ecotourism Pioneer: Karen Lewis of Lapa Rios Ecolodge     159
Reflections     164
Building Global Tourism Certification: Tensie Whelan, CEO of Rainforest Alliance     165
Accountability Comes to Mining: Building an Assurance Process     169
The Issues     170
The Campaign     171
Leading the Jewelry Industry Toward Greater Sustainability: Michael Kowalski of Tiffany & Co     174
Forging the "No Dirty Gold" Campaign: Payal Sampat of Earthworks     183
Reflections     186
Can Certification Systems Reduce Global Poverty?     187
Building Assets and Alleviating Poverty     187
Community-based Indigenous Success under the FSC: The Story of San Juan Nuevo     195
Responses to the Challenges     202
Reflections     205
Certification Opportunities and Challenges Encountered in Other Arenas: Fisheries, Toxics, and Labor     207
The Marine Stewardship Council     212
Rebuilding the Core of Well-Managed Fisheries: Rupert Howes at the MSC     217
Certifying Labor Practices in the Apparel Industry     219
Tackling the Tough Job of Factory Auditing: Heather White, founder of Verity     228
Campaigns Against Toxics     230
Stripping Electronics of Its "Clean" Veneer: Ted Smith of the Silicon Valley Toxics Coalition     232
Reflections     239
Industry Push Back, and the Failure of Second-Party Certification Efforts     241
Challenging NGO Legitimacy      242
Industry-Led Certification Systems     243
Reflections     253
The Mother of All Campaigns: Taking on Wal-Mart and the Looming Domination of Big-Box Retail Stores     255
Big-Box Retail     255
Focus on Wal-Mart     257
The Issues     258
The Campaign     263
Justin Ward of Conservation International's Center for Environmental Leadership in Business     266
Results     274
Reflections     283
Struggles on the Frontier: Are There Limits to the "Certification Revolution"?     287
What Do You Do with Campaigns That Seem To Go Nowhere?     287
Is There a Risk that the Concept of Certification Will Be Diluted?     290
Are There Market Structures Where the Certification Revolution Is Less Likely To Be Effective?     290
How Critical Is Consumer Consciousness and Direct Consumer Demand?     291
How Does This New Form of Market-Based Governance Interact with Traditional Modes of Regulation?     292
Who Watches the Watchers, Certifies the Certifiers?     292
How Do Certification Systems Become Financially Sustainable?     293
Can Nonprofit Organizations Learn to Function at the Speed of Business?     294
Can the Advocacy NGO Community Remain Committed to Certification as Its Success Grows?     295
Can the Certification Revolution Avoid Discriminating against the Global South?     296
Notes     298
Index     323
About the Author     335
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