In the article ?The Mosquito in the Net,? author Marc Gunther explores the impact of a small environmental group, Rainforest Action Network, on corporate giants such as Citigroup, Home Depot, Ford, and others. Gunther provides examples of how corporations are influenced by RAN?s less than conventional campaigns and how corporate environmental polices are changed in response. By applying the six theories, one can gain a better understanding of how RAN?s tactics are justified and effective.
The utilitarian theory seeks the greatest good for the greatest number of people. In the article, the effort of ran to hold corporations to a higher environmental standard appears to support the utilitarian theory. For example, ran targeted Citigroup for its support of logging, mining, and oil-drilling projects due to the impact on rainforests, indigenous people, and the acceleration of global warming (Gunther, 2). Global warming, although a very long term problem, clearly has a world wide impact. Thus, by applying a utilitarian approach it appears that the greatest good for the greatest number of people is met by RAN?s efforts to stop global warming.
Under the rights theory, consumers and corporations have the right to choose. Consumers must have the ability of choosing what is good or what is bad, without influence from third parties (Weiss, 88). From the article, it appears that ran is a third party influencing both corporate decisions. For instance, ran turned buyers against Boise Paper in order to influence where and how Boise purchases wood for their production of paper (Gunther, 4). However, most Americans have a low regard for big business, and most believe that RAN?s efforts are protecting the environment, thus ran is essentially protecting the consumers? rights from big business (Gunter, 3).
The justice theory states that one must verify whether RAN?s efforts to influence corporate policy and decisions are a violation of the law (Weiss, 87). With a budget of $2.4 million and a staff under 30, ran has to resort to some unique techniques to influence corporations that rank on the Fortune 500. These techniques include street theater, internet organizing, celebrity endorsement, and others, all for the purpose of bothering corporations until they give in (Gunther, 2). As long as the tactics used by ran are legal, they are justified under the justice theory.
The application of the free market theory assumes that as long as corporate action is not breaking any law; no interference by the government is essential (Weiss, 168). Using an example for the article, a free market theorist might say that the ran tactic of using a Home Depot intercom to announce a message to protect wood from the Amazon basin may be a violation of store security, but not necessarily unlawful (Gunther, 4). Finally, under the free market theory, only the consumer demand can ultimately decide whether a product can stay on the market (Adam Smith?s ?Invisible Hand?), not a corporation?s decisions to protect the environment (Weiss, 168).
The stakeholder theory explains how RAN?s actions to protect the environment one corporation at a time are justified. The theory states that the corporations should operate, and in this case protect the environment, for the benefit of all stakeholders. For instance RAN?s sixty foot banner stating ?FOREST destruction & global warming? WE?RE banking ON IT!? was clearly designed to provoke a response from Citigroup (Gunther, 2). In this case, RAN?s efforts were in hopes of gaining a change in corporate policy toward the environment. If all the stakeholders are concerned about the well being and continued existence of the earth and environment as it is today, then RAN?s actions are clearly justified under the stakeholder theory.
Finally, by applying the social contract theory, the reader takes note of how stakeholders should be aware of their roles of members of a society. Stakeholders acting for the good of society are maximized, and any damage to society is minimized. Under this theory, profits are no longer the only form of measuring success within a business (Weiss, 160). Again, by going back to the protection of the environment, and preventing long term damage RAN?s efforts to change corporate policy are essential. In this case, the benefit to society is a clean healthy environment, and it is maximized through RAN?s efforts no matter how confrontational.
The Rainforest Action Network is a small fish in a big pond, but it?s actions continue to be effective in influencing corporate policy to protect the environment. The application of the six theories allows one to gain a better understanding of how RAN?s tactics are justified and effective. Whether they are campaigning to improve corporate monitoring of greenhouse emissions, or trying to protect the rainforests of the Amazon basin; RAN?s consistency continues to pay off.
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Mosquito 9.3 of 10 on the basis of 3937 Review.