Organizational Responses to Public and Private Politics: An Analysis of Climate Change Activists and U.S. Oil and Gas Firms
By Shon R. Hiatt, Jake B. Grandy, Brandon H. Lee
The Institute for Operations Research and the Management Sciences
We explore how activists’ public and private politics elicit different organizational responses. Using data on U.S. petroleum companies from 1982 to 2010, we investigate how climate change activists serving as witnesses at congressional hearings and engaging in firm protests influenced firms’ internal and external responses. We find that public politics induced internally focused practice adoption, whereas private politics induced externally focused framing activities.We also find that private and public politics had an interaction effect: as firms faced more private political pressure, they were less likely to respond to public political pressures; similarly, as firms faced greater public political pressure, they were less likely to respond to private political pressures. The results suggest that activists can have a significant impact on firm behavior depending on the mix of private and public political tactics they engage in. We discuss the implications of our study for social movement research, organization theory, and nonmarket strategy.