1. Introduction

Globally, in recent decades, forest industry has faced increased scrutiny regarding its operating practices (e.g. Sonnenfeld 2002; Gritten 2009), for example, Asia Pulp and Paper (APP) in Indonesia (accusations of illegal logging) and Metsä Botnia in Uruguay (fears regarding pollution caused by its pulp mill). The scrutiny is reflected in campaigns by environmental non-government organisations (ENGOs), such as Greenpeace and World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), who are campaigning to get the industry to operate in a more sustainable manner (e.g. Sonnenfeld 2002; Gritten and Kant 2007). The ENGOs’ campaigns can have a significant impact on the operations of corporations, as well as governments (e.g. Sonnenfeld 2002; John and Thomson 2003).

Forests cover large geographical areas and naturally often have many overlapping values and non-complementary end uses which results in conflict. Frequently these conflicts are the result of perceived failures by governments to deal with such issues as indigenous rights and deforestation (Ruggie 2003). Previously ENGOs have targeted governments, but increasingly they have focussed on corporations because of their increased prominence in dominating policy agendas of national governments and international organisations (Murphy and Bendell 1997; John and Thomson 2003), as well as responding to the perceived inaction of governments regarding regulating the operating practices of the corporations (Newell 2001). In other words, they are targeting the holders of power (Tilly 1999), those that can make changes, for example, to improve the sustainability of forest management.

There have been considerable changes in the attitudes regarding corporations. For example, during the 1970s social and environmental regulations increased in many countries. However, in the 1980s, with the prevalent neo-liberal views in many countries, there was a move towards corporate self-regulation and voluntary initiatives, in other words corporate social responsibility (CSR)/corporate responsibility (CR) (Clapp and Utting 2008). However, limits to CSR/CR have led to the growth of a corporate accountability movement, which includes ENGOs (Broad and Cavanagh 1999). The changes in attitudes are also a response to the recent trend of globalisation in the industry (Mikkilä 2006) as forestry companies, such as those based in Finland and Sweden, invest in projects in, for example, Indonesia, Brazil and China. ENGOs have to develop strategies to respond to this if they are to achieve their aims (Rose 2005).

This leads to the hypothesis that one of the main strategies adopted by ENGOs, in response to the globalising nature of the industry, is to become global in their strategy. Specifically, despite there being numerous differences between ENGOs, including differing strategies, ideologies and sources of funding (e.g. Keck and Sikkink 1998; Gritten 2009), these diverse groups frequently form coalitions, often international in nature, to target a corporation (e.g. Gritten and Kant 2007). The international dimension to the campaigns is partly explained by the often global nature of the industry, with regards to its operations, sources of funding, ownership as well as its customers. The exploration of this strategy employed by ENGOs is important in the context of understanding their influence and the response the companies targeted.

The aim of this paper, therefore, is to test the hypothesis that ENGOs, when conducting campaigns against transnational forestry corporations, adopt a blanket strategy against their target (Figure 1). This strategy involves the forming of networks or strengthening existing links with their peers in other locations in order to increase their influence and present a common front in their campaigns (Wapner 2000), covering as many areas of the target corporation’s operations as possible. In order to achieve the paper’s aim we examined 14 case studies involving ENGO campaigns against forest industry companies; determining if there was a correlation between the location of the ENGOs campaigning against a forestry company and the site of the target’s partners (i.e. financiers, customers, and shareholders).

1.1. Theoretical background

Social movements, including ENGOs, are attempting to uncover problems, and bring these to the attention of the press and policy makers (Keck and Sikkink 1998), with the focus of ENGOs being on environmental conservation and human rights. Sometimes these efforts fail because of resistance by the target group. To demonstrate how non-governmental organisations (NGOs) respond to this Keck and Sikkink (1998) developed the concept of the boomerang pattern in which NGOs use international links to pressure their own governments through partnerships with NGOs more influential than themselves, which is also the basis of the more comprehensive blanket campaign presented here. The boomerang pattern demonstrates how NGOs, such as human rights activists, respond when their campaign against a TNC in their home country is failing. The blanket strategy differs to Keck and Sikkink’s presentation of the model in exploring the pressure applied by the ENGOs on various aspects of the target company’s operations, specifically its partners (shareholders, customers, and financiers). In other words the ENGOs use their formal (part of the same of international organisation, e.g. Greenpeace) or informal (e.g. personal links between activists and previous association in other campaigns) links to ENGOs in countries where the target company has its partners.

The blanket strategy can be linked to a form of political process theory (e.g. McAdam et al. 1996), which puts forward the notion that certain political situations facilitate social movement activity. In other words, social changes that weaken the established political order make them more vulnerable to challenges. For example, the development of democratic institutions in Indonesia places increased pressure on the government to listen to its constituents (Nomura 2007). In the situation presented here one can label it a corporate process model, whereby ENGOs have a greater likelihood in succeeding in their aims if they are campaigning at a time when the target company is already under pressure from other sources. This pressure can be political, but also economic in the form of increased competition, for example. Just as McAdam et al. (1996) say that changes in the social situation that weaken the political order invite challenges by social movements, threats to the performance of a corporation may also encourage the challenges. This can be in the form of campaigns by other ENGOs.

The blanket strategy also has relevance regarding resource mobilization theory (e.g. Cress and Snow 1996), whereby social movement’s influence fluctuates as the level of their resources change. In this case the blanket strategy allows the groups to take advantage of their shared resources (including information) to bring about change.

ENGOs have to adapt their strategies according to various factors, such as the target company, the environment they are working in (e.g. democratic freedoms), and perceived legitimacy and support (e.g. from other ENGOs, but also from media) of their position. These factors combine to determine the ability of the ENGO to influence the target company’s policies and actions. This is best illustrated by McAdam et al. (1996) who believe that social movement groups must overcome five hurdles to achieve change:

  1. Attract new recruits
  2. Keep current recruits
  3. Generate media coverage
  4. Mobilise general public’s support
  5. Limit the social control options of the group’s opponents (e.g. limit ability of opponents to influence public opinion)

This will affect whether they decide to campaign on an issue (if a potential campaign is not likely to achieve one or more of the hurdles then they would be less likely to campaign) and if they need to adapt their strategy to maximise their chances of success, in other words to target the corporation on an international level, through its partners.

The blanket strategy is an important part of ensuring that an ENGO can continue to operate and thrive in the globalised world, as companies, such as UPM-Kymmene (UPM) have operations throughout the world. ENGOs need to respond to this; conversely failure to do so would see their position increasingly weakened. In other words they need to act to ensure they secure their future ability to campaign (Cress and Snow 1996).

2. Material and methods

2.1. Construction of the dataset

In order to study the different interrelations between ENGOs and companies involved in a forest conflict, we had to identify suitable examples, preferably the most representative sample possible. In academic literature and reports from organisations, such as the Food and Agricultural Organisation of the United Nations (FAO) and the Centre for International Forestry Research (CIFOR), we initially found 37 conflicts involving forest industry and ENGOs campaigning against them. For each of these cases, we then searched for additional details about the conflicts in existing academic literature, national and international newspapers, publications from ENGOs, reports from the companies involved, and correspondence with representatives of parties involved in these conflicts. We also used internet searches and corresponded with academics in the countries where the conflicts occurred or where the companies were based. After collecting as much additional information as possible on the 37 conflicts, we screened out 23 of the cases due to difficulties obtaining adequate information on the actors and ENGOs involved. Our analysis concerns only the 14 cases on which we felt we had adequate information (Table 1). This is too small a number to claim that our surviving sample is actually representative but the rich detail available gives us confidence about conclusions regarding these cases.

Figure 2 maps the cases according to the centre of the area of dispute. Based on the information collected, a database of the different actors involved in each case was constructed. The companies involved in each conflict were studied, including their country base, their main markets (i.e. location of customers) and main financial sources (i.e. main financier organisations), as well as shareholders. The ENGOs were grouped according to the country where they operate (e.g. Greenpeace UK) or operating at a global level (e.g. Greenpeace International). Although some ENGOs may have been omitted, the aim of the screening was to be exhaustive.

We classified the conflicts and the ENGOs by location and noted the activities of the various ENGOs involved in each conflict. In addition, we noted the geographical locations of the companies various economic partners (financiers, customers, shareholders). We used SPSS v 15 for the quantitative analysis.

3. Results

The ENGOs involved in the different conflicts were grouped in geographical regions (Figure 3), based on their location (e.g. FoE Indonesia, also known as WALHI, is defined as a national ENGO, based in Indonesia). The resulting figures showed a very low number of ENGOs operating in Africa (3% of the total screened), follow by Australia and Pacific (4%) and South America (11%). North America, Asia and Europe presented more equal shares. A significant number of ENGOs were operating globally at an international level (15%).

Regarding each of the conflicts examined, a significant number of ENGOs acted outside the country were the conflict took place (Figure 4). In the cases of us1, cn and us2, the number of domestic ENGOs surpassed those acting abroad (us2 had no non-US ENGO involvement), suggesting a lower level of internationalisation of the conflicts. The same would apply to the case ke1, given the low number of ENGOs involved. The case uy1 (Metsä Botnia) presented a large number of ENGOs involved, distributed more evenly between national and operating abroad or international. This is a result of the issue being predominantly an international one, specifically the fact that the mill is situated on the River Plate, which acts as the border between Uruguay and Argentina, hence the high number of non-Uruguay ENGOs involved.

The maps linking the different actors involved in the conflicts (Figure 5) reveal the geographical pattern of the links between the actors involved in the cases studied. A total of 171 and 201 flows were identified for ENGOs and economic partners, respectively. In many of the conflicts, the financial and economic partners of the industries and companies involved are mirrored by ENGOs connections with the conflict.

The results show that there is a clear correspondence between the companies’ financial and economic partners and the ENGOs activities. In total, the ENGOs’ links between each conflict overlapped the economic partners in 76% of the flows, and in 18 out of 23 countries with ENGOs involved in the conflicts studied. In six of the cases the overlap was 100% (Table 2).

Figure 6 shows these correspondences divided by locations of the ENGOs activities 1) either physically (i.e. location of the conflict), 2) and 3) financially (i.e. location of the main shareholders and financiers of the company involved) or 4) sales (i.e. location of customers of the company involved). This latter category includes about 60% of the ENGOs involved, although it must be taken into account that these categories are not independent, and a country can host the conflict, and the financial and economic actors at the same time.

In fact, the geographical distribution and dispersion of the companies’ customers contributes to explain the total number of ENGOs associated with each conflict (Figure 7). In a broader sense, there seems to be a correlation between the internationalisation of the companies’ partners (i.e. financiers, customers and shareholders) and the internationalisation of the ENGOs linked to the conflicts.

APRIL case study. The APRIL campaign is a good illustration of the blanket strategy in action, as demonstrated in Table 3.

4. Discussion

This paper focuses on the campaigns by ENGOs against forest industry, presenting the concept of the blanket campaign as a means to explain the strategies ENGOs utilise when attempting to get corporations to change their operations. One of the main limitations of the research is the restricted number of cases included, given the large amount of data from multiple sources needed to create the data for each conflict. In addition, there are possible selection biases (e.g. language barriers, advertising strategies by the ENGOs, access to information). Though extrapolations of the results of this study must be cautious, given these limitations and the intrinsic differences between the conflicts studied, the results show that there are common variables in the methods used regarding the targeting of areas of operations by the ENGOs, especially in the geographical nature of the campaigns.

The results appear to support the assumption that ENGOs often employ a blanket strategy to influence the operations of the target corporations. This fits with previous works in this area including McAdam et al. (1996), Wapner (2000), and Tarrow and McAdam (2004). The ENGOs are taking advantage of the so-called international opportunity structures (Tarrow and McAdam 2004), as the increasingly globalised nature of the forest industry facilitates the internationalisation of the ENGOs’ campaigns, which is aided by the expansion of the environmental movement, for example, in Asia (see e.g. Nomura 2007).

The formation of, formal or informal, partnerships with other ENGOs increases the potential influence of ENGOs (e.g. Keck and Sikkink 1998; Wapner 2000; Gritten 2009). One can view these partnerships, leading to the blanket coverage of the target company’s operations (i.e. targeting various aspects of the company’s operations including their financiers, shareholders and customers), as a way that the ENGOs increase their salience, with regards to the target, thereby increasing their ability to influence the company (Gritten 2009). An example of this is APRIL (id1) who credit pressure from ENGOs as being the main reason for improvement in the sustainability of their operations (Raitzer 2008). These groups have had varying media coverage including on the BBC and CNN, and have had success in naming and shaming the partners of the company in the media of the country of the ENGO (e.g. FoE EWNI’s campaign against APRIL had coverage on the BBC) (See Table 2).

The issue of salience is particularly pertinent. Mitchell et al. (1997) provide a framework for determining the prominence of the stakeholders, with regards to the target company, including ENGOs. They categorise stakeholders according to their salience based on their legitimacy, power and urgency which will be reflected in the priority that the corporation places on each of these stakeholders. The ENGOs, through their campaigns increase their individual salience, with regards to the company, but also as a collective. It is apparent that when ENGOs start campaigning against a company this increases the salience of many of the stakeholders, with regards to the target company (Gritten 2009; Gritten and Saastamoinen in press). This is because the company’s partners do not wish to be linked with a company involved in questionable practices, therefore they may choose to end their association or press the target company to change its operations. For example, UPM’s relationship with APRIL, as both a partner, and later as a customer saw UPM exert significant pressure on APRIL to improve its operations, if UPM were to continue its relationship (personal correspondence Director of Issues Management, UPM).

The globalised nature that has been developing in the forest industry (e.g. Scandinavian companies investing in projects in South America and Asia), is also occurring in the ENGO movement with regards to their offices (e.g. Greenpeace opened its South Africa office in 2008). This has impacted on how they conduct their campaigns. Clear evidence of this trend is in the important role that internet plays for the ENGOs for building connections between different the groups, and also for how they disseminate their information, thereby increasing the potential impact of their campaigns, but also ensuring they maximise their funds (Blood 2001).

The internationality of the campaigns may be partly explained by the previous links that national and international ENGOs have: for example, Friends of the Earth England, Wales and Northern Ireland (FoE EWNI), already had worked with numerous ENGOs in Indonesia for their campaign against APP (id2), this facilitated their APRIL campaign (personal communication head of APRIL campaign at FoE EWNI). In addition one must consider the strong links between the offices of the national ENGOs: for example, the FoE EWNI (targeting customers, financiers, UK Government), FoE Finland (Maan ystävät) (targeting partner and Finnish Government), FoE Indonesia (WALHI) (targeting APRIL, customers, Indonesian Government) and FoE the Netherlands (Milieudefensie) (targeting customers and financiers) were working together, formally and informally, targeting different areas of APRIL’s operations (see Table 2). Furthermore, ENGOs in developing nations and those in developed nations mutually benefit by working together in campaigns (Keck and Sikkink 1998), for example, Friends of the Earth Finland’s campaign against APRIL achieved legitimacy by their association with Indonesian ENGOs, such as Jikalahari (Gritten and Saastamoinen in press).

The blanket nature of ENGO campaigns is linked to the geographical dimension of the conflict. For example, FoE Finland campaigned against APRIL because of their relationship with the Finnish based UPM, using these links as a tool to pressurise APRIL (id1) (personal communication campaign leader, FoE Finland). However, FoE Finland has not actively campaigned against APP (id2), which has very similar issues to APRIL, which can be explained by the weak links between APP and Finland. While in the Metsähallitus campaign (fi) this is illustrated by Greenpeace Germany and Netherlands targeting the customers in their respective countries. Furthermore, the conflicts in North America (ca, us1 and us2) remain regional in their focus (in line with the regional extent of their economic links) which fits with the work by Sandberg et al. (2004) who felt that criticism of forestry companies in North America was national in origin.

Mikkilä and Toppinen (2008) feel that Nordic forest companies are more strongly criticised (e.g. by customers) than their Asian and North American counterparts. Our findings, though focussing on criticism by ENGOs, shows that the Asian companies, with international partners, are just as strongly criticised as those from the Nordic countries, though the pressure comes from other continents as much as from within their own country. This may also be explained by the continued growth in the media attention on deforestation in the tropics (e.g. Indonesia and Brazil), though we feel it is more likely that the ENGOs are using their resources (i.e. partner ENGOs throughout the world) to target the partners of the focus company. For example, both APP and APRIL are Asian companies, with headquarters in Singapore, but they have partners throughout the world. Therefore, the ENGOs are utilising their links where the company has, for example, customers to ensure that pressure is exerted on them so that they stop buying from these companies. Even though ENGOs’ power is limited in Indonesia compared to Europe (see Nomura 2007), they are able to use their partnerships in Europe to pressure the companies in Indonesia. This is a reflection of the blanket nature of the campaigns, in other words covering as many areas of the company’s operations (i.e. customers, shareholders and those providing financial services).

The link between location of market, partners and ENGOs campaigning appears to be confirmed by the results. Those companies with a broader geographical spread, in terms of sales and operations, are more likely to have a superior corporate social performance, a view supported by Brammer et al. (2006) and Mikkilä (2006), either because companies imagine that they need a better social reputation to anchor their broader operations, or because they are actually vulnerable to concrete pressures from more geographical sources. An example of this is Pan Paper Mills (ke) who do little, if any, corporate reporting, an explanation for this, in line with Brammer et al. (2006), is because their operations and sales are confined to Kenya and East Africa.

As mentioned earlier the decision by ENGOs to campaign on an issue is based on certain factors centred around the campaign complementing the group’s agenda (McAdam et al. 1996). This would influence the amount of media coverage a conflict would get. Rose (2005), a former campaign leader of Greenpeace, highlights the importance of communication, and with that media coverage, in the success of a campaign: If a campaign is unlikely to attract media coverage then it is unlikely to become a campaign issue. For example, the Pan Paper conflict (ke) has various factors against it regarding media coverage: lack of involvement of ENGOs (both local and international), little internationality regarding the issue, as well as research. An additional issue regarding Pan Paper is that Greenpeace and FoE do not have offices in Kenya and therefore do not have such a strong network compared to Brazil or Indonesia, which greatly influences the groups’ ability to succeed according to the criteria of McAdam et al. (1996) as presented above. Furthermore, the environmental movement, according to Haynes (1999), is more developed in South America and Asia than in sub-Saharan Africa. This would impact on the approach taken by both local and international ENGOs in their targeting of the company. For example, regarding the Metsähallitus conflict (fi), a significant level of cooperation between the national Greenpeace offices (e.g. Greenpeace Finland, Netherlands, Germany and the UK) facilitated the high levels of pressure being brought to bear on Metsähallitus in targeting the customers in the UK, Germany and the Netherlands (personal correspondence campaign leader Greenpeace Finland). For instance they worked together establishing a campaign camp in one of the forests affected by Metsähallitus’ operations, and publicised this in their respective countries, as well as utilising other tactics, such as blockading the transport of pulp from the conflict area to the Netherlands and Germany.

The APP and APRIL campaigns, though focussing on non-western companies, have attracted many national and international ENGOs as they have various factors in support, including, the previous history of campaigns by ENGOs against the pulp and paper industry in the region (e.g. Sonnenfeld 2002), support of scientists and researchers, for example at CIFOR (e.g. Barr 2001; Pirard and Cossalter 2006; Pirard and Rokhim 2006) which bring legitimacy to the campaigns (Gritten and Saastamoinen in press), as well as an active network of local and national ENGOs with links to international partners (Gritten and Kant 2007). In addition to the fashionable nature of the subject; protection of well-known endangered species include the orangutan (Pongo pygmaeus), and the increased concern regarding deforestation of tropical forests (e.g. Geist and Lambin 2002) make it more likely that the ENGO can overcome the five hurdles presented by McAdam et al. (1996) and therefore campaign on the issue.

The research also raised the question of what the ENGOs are trying to actually achieve in their campaigns; specifically even though the campaigns are targeting a corporation, in the long run their aims related more to governance issues (Amenta and Young 1999). In other words the targeting of a company may be putting increased pressure on the government to introduce legal reforms, this can be viewed as being a blanket strategy as well, and is close to the boomerang pattern suggested by Keck and Sikkink (1998). For example, our correspondence with some of the campaign leaders of ENGOs targeting APRIL (i.e. FoE EWNI, FoE Finland and WWF Indonesia) showed differing campaign aims, for example, both FoE offices stated that their ultimate aim was changing the policy of Indonesian Government with regards to the pulp and paper industry, while WWF Indonesia stated their ultimate target was getting APRIL to greatly improve its operations (personal correspondence with FoE EWNI campaign leader, FoE Finland campaign leader and WWF Indonesia campaign leader).

An issue not examined here, but worth acknowledging, is the blanket strategy of the ENGOs from the perspective of tactics; specifically related to the collaborative or confrontational stance that the groups take in their campaigns against companies. For example, in the Metsähallitus conflict (fi) Greenpeace (Finland and Germany) have taken visible confrontational strategy, while the Finnish Association for Nature Conservation (FANC) has taken a more collaborative stance. The complexity of this is further illustrated by FANC, whose national office in Helsinki had a different approach in the campaign in terms of the focus compared to the regional office in Lapland, where the conflict is based: The former placed as much emphasis on the rights of the Sámi indigenous people in the area, as conserving old growth forests, while the office in Lapland played down the Sámi issue for fear of alienating other local groups (personal correspondence lead campaigner FANC).

Further research on the topic can include the chronological factors associated with each of the links established by the conflicts. A deeper examination of this and its impacts on the campaigns is of value, especially if it is done in conjunction with a detailed study of the impact of the blanket campaigns, in geographical terms, on the success or failure of a campaign. In addition, the analysis of a broader number of conflicts, for example, including campaigns against oil palm companies, can help to confirm the hypotheses examined in this paper. A large number of cases can also allow the application of more complex geo-statistical techniques, and would permit the inclusion of other variables associated with the political and socio-economical context of the counties involved.

5. Conclusions

This is the first study, to the authors’ knowledge, that analyses the connections between a forest company/enterprises’ partners (financiers, shareholders and customers) and the location of ENGOs targeting the company, using a broad sample of empirical cases. There appears to be a strong geographical link between the site of the company’s partners and the location of the ENGOs, which supports the idea that a blanket strategy is used by ENGOs when campaigning against the forest industry, covering various aspects of the target company’s operations. Though there are various factors that determine whether the blanket strategy is utilised.

The work attempts to develop this relatively under-researched field of the relationship between ENGOs and the forest industry, which is particularly relevant considering the inevitable campaigns that result from company’s establishing new operations. The conclusions of the study provide potential input in forest industry’s interaction with its stakeholders, including ENGOs: for example, opening a dialogue process with ENGOs not just in the country of operations, but also in countries where the company has its customers.

The work also raises questions related to future research regarding the intensity, impact and media coverage of conflicts related to forest management and the role of ENGOs within this. Future research that includes a broader number of cases, compares the strategies of ENGOs including the levels of networking and the temporal dimension of the links, and includes indicators based on, for example, the political system and the degree of development of the countries involved would be a logical progression from the work presented here.