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Trade associations, change and the new activism.

Greenwood, Justin


Justin Greenwood


Steve John

Stuart Thomson


There is a breakdown of trust and a corresponding rise in corrosive cynicism in both corporate activity and in mainstream politics. Trust is the cement in the relationship between institutions and civil society. When trust breaks down, civil society either withdraws from participation, or expresses protest outside the mainstream channels of participation. Risk-related investment falls. Participation in elections declines, and alternative outlets of political expression arise. The press becomes cynical, hostile or negative, and seeks out bad news. Suspicion sets in and irresistible pressures grow for open­ness, transparency and accountability. The information and opportunities so yielded reap a crop of issues upon which cynics make hay, and the Inter­net spills out more and more information, opening up new fronts as it does so. Even potential good news stories are interpreted and reported negatively, and those with news to tell become defensive and/or incommunicative. The downward spiral continues. Company managers and public affairs leaders lose the ability to predict when and from which direction the next missile will be coming their way. These factors help to explain the climate in which brand-name and other companies have found themselves to be targets of activism, sometimes in very isolated positions. The corporate world reveals a tendency to shoot itself in the foot by yielding a clutch of household-name companies whose financial practice scandals have resulted in losses for millions and acute misery for thousands raising wider public interest agenda . Mainstream public interest groups are turned from potential friend into foes, and the everyday citizen becomes a business critic. Polticians respond with agenda with seemingly limitless regulatory frontiers that catch companies on the back foot.


GREENWOOD, J. 2003. Trade associations, change and the new activism. In John, S. and Thomson, S. (eds.). New activism and the corporate response. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan [online], pages 49-65. Available from:

Publication Date Sep 10, 2003
Deposit Date Feb 25, 2020
Publicly Available Date Sep 24, 2020
Publisher Springer
Pages 49-65
Book Title New activism and the corporate response
Chapter Number Chapter 3
ISBN 9781403903112 ; 1403903115
Keywords Corporate activity; Politics; Trust; Corporate social responsibility; Political institutions; Trade associations
Public URL
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