Social Activism and Nongovernmental Organizations


Herbert G. Rammrath Endowed Chair in International Business, Villanova University


MBA Student, Villanova University


Social activism is the process by which individuals, acting alone or as part of a collective, express opposing views on social issues such as labor, environmental, human rights, and poverty. Typically, activists seek to change the behavior of companies or individuals, or encourage the approval or implementation of legislation or regulation. Activism can take a wide range of forms from writing letters to newspapers or politicians, political campaigning, economic activism such as boycotts or preferentially patronizing businesses, rallies, street marches, strikes, sit-ins, and hunger strikes. This chapter focuses primarily on more formal examples of social activism that occur when individuals combine in movements or organizations to advance specific causes.

In the realm of social investment and finance, activism is often targeted at individual companies through various forms of campaigns, financial institutions, or investors and shareowners. Through the process of socially responsible investing (SRI), especially shareholder advocacy, social activists have leveraged the instruments of corporate governance and power to exploit the tools of investment in order to change corporate behavior.

This chapter provides an overview of the role of social activism in the realm ...

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