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Centre for Building Sustainable Value

Kate Odziemkowska

Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania

Sleeping with the Enemy: Target Selection in Cooperative Private Politics


This paper studies target selection in cooperative private politics – which firms social activists collaborate with. I endeavor to show that activist-firm collaboration is driven by the dynamics and structure of both social movements and inter-firm relations. Specifically, in selecting firms to collaborate with, activists are influenced by the prior pattern of contentious targeting which opens up some firms to collaboration, and the structure of the social movement which influences the likelihood of the collaboration being criticized as greenwashing. Further, given that activists are interested in field-level change, their choice of collaboration targets is influenced by the structure of inter-firm relations which alters the likelihood of institutional change via practice diffusion. I test my propositions using a unique panel database of all contentious and cooperative interactions, including formal collaborations, between 118 U.S.-based environmental NGOs and 300 firms between 1988 and 2012, complemented by network data on movements and firms.


Kate is a PhD Candidate in Management at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School. Her research examines how firms manage their relationships with non-market stakeholders, such as social movement organizations, communities and governments, and how the dynamics and governance of these relationships creates firm value. In her dissertation, Kate explores the antecedents and consequences of cooperative private politics – social movement organizations’ collaborations with firms. Kate’s research has been published in the Strategic Management Journal, and has received several awards including the Strategic Management Society’s Best Conference PhD Paper Prize (2016) and the Best Paper Award from the Alliance for Research on Corporate Sustainability (2017). 

Kate Odziemkowska

Kate Odziemkowska

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