Past Seminar

Nongovernmental Organizations, Corporate Behavior, and the Environment

Mar 24, 2010

About the Event

Nongovernmental Organizations, Corporate Behavior,
and the Environment
RFF Seminar
March 24, 2010

A seminar and book launch for Good Cop/Bad Cop: Environmental NGOs
and Their Strategies toward Business

Good Cop, Bad Cop Book Launch
Good Cop/Bad Cop: Environmental NGOs and
Their Strategies toward Business
, edited by Thomas P. Lyon (RFF Press, 2010)

Nongovernmental organizations play an increasingly prominent role in addressing complex environmental issues such as climate change, persistent bioaccumulative pollutants, and the conservation of biodiversity, but the landscape in which they operate is changing rapidly. Markets, and direct engagement with industry, rather than traditional government regulation, are often the tools of choice for NGOs seeking to change corporate behavior today. Yet these new strategies remain poorly understood—how do NGOs choose which battles to fight, differentiate themselves from one another in order to attract membership and funding, and decide when to form alliances and when to work separately?

Drawing on the work of a newly published book by RFF Press, this seminar brought together NGO, business, and academic perspectives to address the urgent need for objective study of NGO operations and effectiveness. Panelists highlighted organizational structure and key objectives at several major NGOs and outline strategies toward corporate engagement, particularly the decision of whether to play the role of “corporate partner” or “corporate critic” (good cop versus bad cop). Additionally, participants discussed what causes the relationships between companies and NGOs to either succeed or fail. The seminar concluded by setting the agenda for continued research into NGO operations and impact.


Matthew C. Banks, Senior Program Officer, Business and Industry Program, World Wildlife Fund

Mark A. Cohen, Vice President for Research, and Senior Fellow, Resources for the Future

Kert Davies, Research Director, Greenpeace

Thomas P. Lyon, Director, Erb Institute for Global Sustainable Enterprise at the University of Michigan

Heather Quinley, Director, EH&S National Stewardship Strategy, Duke Energy 


Event Audio (mp3)
click to stream and right-click to download


  • Mark A. Cohen, University Fellow, Professor of Management and Law, Vanderbilt University